One of the most intelligent of dog breeds — and my personal favourite, the poodle — is popular with many dog lovers. Its origins can be traced back to Germany and then France as it was bred to retrieve fowl, mainly ducks, in the water. The name “poodle” is said to come from the German word “pfudel” which means to splash or puddle and “pudelhund”, meaning water dog. Today, poodles are endearing companion animals whose non-shedding coat will give your vacuum cleaner a well-deserved break.
Poodles come in three sizes: standard (45-70 lbs.), miniature (12-17 lbs.) and toy (6-9 lbs.) and in a variety of colours: black, brown, grey, blues, apricot, cream, silver and white. On average, their lifespan ranges from 11-16 years depending on the size, with smaller dogs usually living longer than larger ones.
Regular grooming and bathing is very important for poodles or their curly hair will become tangled and matted. A professional groomer can make your poodle look like a show dog or simply give it a puppy cut where most of the hair is the same length. Poodles are considered to be hypoallergenic but some people may still be allergic to the dander that is produced under the coat.
As with all dogs, early socialization with poodle pups is the key to having a friendly, well-adjusted pet that gets along with other dogs, cats, and people. Poodles are intelligent, loyal, playful and make excellent watchdogs. They do tend to enjoy barking and may need some training so this doesn’t happen in excess. Their reputation of being nervous, yappy dogs may apply more to the toy variety of the breed whereas the standard poodle has a calmer demeanour. Regardless of size, all poodles, like all dogs, need training to be good dogs.
Good nutrition is of prime importance so always choose a top quality dog food that is free of useless grains and fillers and one where the chicken didn’t just fly over the bag. There is no need to fall for the marketing ploy that claims certain foods are breed specific and for poodles only. Read the list of ingredients and seek advice from the knowledgeable staff at pet supply stores if you have any questions or concerns.
My poodle is thriving on freeze dried raw food, having turned his nose up at kibble a couple of years ago. He also gets his teeth brushed every day once I can get him to sit still.
Daily exercise is a must for poodles as with all dogs but the smaller varieties of this breed are not necessarily jogging partners as they may have difficulty keeping pace with you. Still, two to three decent walks a day will keep your pet in good shape and will do you some good, too.
Poodles tend to have certain medical issues that you need to watch for throughout their lives. Not all poodles will get any or all of these diseases but it’s important to be aware of them if you are considering this breed.
Hip dysplasia, Addison’s disease, Cushings disease, epilepsy, patellar luxation, Legg-Perthes disease and Sebaceous Adenitis are some of the most serious conditions that can afflict poodles. They are easy to research and understand and shouldn’t prevent you from bringing a poodle into your home once you consider how many things can go wrong with the human body.
This has been but a brief introduction to this wonderful breed and there is a wealth of information available online and in pet books should you be considering giving a poodle a good home. My Donny came to us from Animatch having been found dumped on the street, filthy, matted and neglected. He’s a smart little guy who has blended perfectly into our family and allows us to adore him on a daily basis.
Poodles are not for everyone. Could they be the right breed for you?
This column was previously published in February 2016. Judie Amyot is a volunteer with Animatch, a non-profit dog adoption service. For more information, visit www.animatch.ca