Breed breakdown: A look at the poodle
The vet’s office
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
While many people think of three different breeds, poodles are actually one breed divided by size. The breed standards describing the breeds’ attributes are identical except for the size requirements. The “original” poodle was the standard poodle, measuring over 15 inches at the shoulder. The miniature poodle should be between 10 and 15 inches at the shoulder, and the toy poodle is less than 10 inches.
Poodles get their name from their German roots, the “pudelhund” or water dog. Drawings of the pudelhund have been found from the 15th century. The refinement of the breed, however, occurred in France, giving the dogs that country association. The toy variety is thought to have been refined in England.
Poodles are known to be active, intelligent, and elegant with “an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself,” according to the breed standard. Poodles are a very intelligent breed, ranking No. 2 behind the border collie. Their intelligence makes them desire a job and eager to please.
The standard poodles were developed as retrievers. Standards have been used for military work and as service dogs. Miniatures were used to find truffles before joining the toys with their jobs as lap dogs.
Poodles are also well known for their coat. A low shedding dog, this single coated breed has a variety of identifiable haircuts. The most distinctive is the “show” cut. It is thought the “pom-poms” were over the joints to keep the dogs warm in the water, and shaving the rest of the body decreased drag for swimming.
However, there is conjecture this cut came about during the poodles’ popularity with the circus. This cut takes a lot of time and care, and many opt for a puppy or a sporting cut. Uncommonly known, it is acceptable for poodles to be shown “corded,” the dog version of dreadlocks.
Any sized poodle can develop eye diseases such as retinal atrophy; sebaceous adenitis, a skin disorder requiring lifelong management; von Willebrand clotting disorder; adrenal gland problems; and heart disease. Standards are more likely to develop stomach bloat, hip dysplasia, and the fatal brain disorder neonatal encephalopathy. Toys and minis have other types of growth issues, including luxating patellas, or loose kneecaps. The smaller breeds are more likely to have developmental liver disease and collapsing trachea.
Poodles are a fun, active breed but do need regular training, socialization, and grooming. With a variety of sizes and colors, most people can find the perfect poodle for their lifestyle. As always, ask questions, meet the parents, and do your homework on your next great companion.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.