Introduction | History & Health | Temperament & Personality | Breed Standard


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The Poodle, also known as the Pudel, the Caniche (which means "duck dog"), the Chien Canne (meaning "reed dog"), the Barbone (which means "barbered") or the canis familiaris aquatius, is one of the most famous of all dog breeds and is known to be proud, intelligent and elegant. "Pudel" refers to playing in water. Supposedly originating in Germany, the Poodle is more known for its association with France. Both the French and German names for this breed pertain to its keen ability to hunt and to retrieve waterfowl. Also called the "French Poodle," this breed actually developed and achieved its fame as a hunting retriever and a circus trick dog. He also for a time was used to sniff out the famous truffle mushrooms. The Poodle is now best known as an intelligent companion and show competitor. The Poodle was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1887. The Standard Poodle (and the Miniature Poodle) are members of the Non-Sporting Group, while the Toy Poodle is a member of the Toy Group. They are each considered to be members of the same breed, with the smaller varieties having been bred down in size from the Standard Poodle.
The Standard Poodle is over 15 inches at the withers. The Miniature Poodle is 15 inches or less at the withers, but over 10 inches in height. The Toy Poodle is 10 inches or less at the withers. When competing in the show ring, the Poodle's coat requires immense attention. However, when trimmed in a companion "puppy" clip, it is a very low maintenance breed and is practically non-shedding. The Standard Poodle is known to be the most stable, affectionate and sensitive of the poodle family. It is very good with children and other dogs and is the calmest of the poodles.

History & Health


Despite its "froo-froo" reputation, the Poodle actually was bred as a working water retriever. It is said to have descended from the Barbet and the Hungarian Water Hound. The elaborate, exaggerated trims seen on Standard Poodles in the show ring today are actually a quite practical adaptation of trims developed to facilitate its life as a tough working water dog. Its dense coat was shaved to facilitate its progress and speed, and to provide protection and maintain warmth in key areas, while it was retrieving in icy water. This led to the clipping pattern that it is known for and shown in today. It remains one of the best waterfowl retrievers. The Standard Poodle was also admired for its ability to sniff out truffles, a prized mushroom that remains a culinary delicacy to this day. Poodles were common in Europe well before the eighteenth century, particularly in Spain, Germany and France. There are three distinct varieties of Poodles today: the Toy, the Miniature and the Standard. They come in black, white, brown, cream, blue, gray, silver, apricot and any other solid color. However, despite the size differences, this is still one breed, governed by the same standard. The Standard is the foundation for all other poodles.
Poodles are known for their extreme intelligence, athleticism and trainability, and they are remarkable family companions. Despite their fancy reputation, Standard Poodles are terrific outdoor dogs. They enjoy and excel at all types of outdoor activities, including field trials, agility, fly ball, rally, obedience and other outdoor sports. The Standard Poodle remains a skilled retrieving and hunting dog and thrives in the conformation ring, as well.


The average life span of a Standard Poodle is 10 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include epilepsy, hip dysplasia, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, patent ductus arteriosis, dilated cardiomyopathy, patellar luxation, progressive retinal atrophy, sebaceous adenitis, a number of skin problems, renal disorders and von Willebrand disease.

Temperament & Personality


Poodles have a reputation for being "sissies." They way their hair is cut for shows probably doesn't help that image, but Poodles are by no means fragile, shrinking violets. They are outgoing, friendly dogs who love to run and romp, and interestingly, they were originally used to assist hunters of water fowl. They are true family dogs who can play hard with children all afternoon, then curl up in the living room for an evening of relaxation. Poodles make excellent watchdogs, they are alert and curious and will sound the alarm that a person or animal is approaching. They make an excellent choice for families of all sizes and ages, and are great for first time dog owners.

Activity Requirements

Standard Poodles are large dogs who need lots of room to move, both indoors and out. They are well-behaved inside, which can make them attractive for people who live in cities or in condominiums, but unless a commitment is made to exercising your Poodle, these may not be the best environments. Daily walks and the chance to run can keep your Standard Poodle happy and healthy.
They are a smart breed who need to use their minds as much as their bodies, so it is important to give your Poodle lots of interesting activities to do during the day, and you should consider enrolling your Poodle in agility activities where they can use both mind and body at the same time.


Poodles are highly trainable dogs. They catch on very quickly to patterns and don't require much motivation beyond praise and a couple of treats. Poodles should never be treated harshly as they will simply stop listening to you. They are natural learners, however, so they shouldn't test your patience too far during training sessions.
Once basic obedience has been mastered, Poodles should graduate on to advanced obedience, trick training, or the agility course. They are thinking dogs and will appreciate the opportunity to learn new things.

Behavioral Traits

The biggest mistake Standard Poodle owners is not exercising them enough. The breed's reputation for being dainty leads novice owners to believe these dogs don't require vigorous activity, but they need to run daily. Poodles who don't get enough exercise can be anxious or destructive.
Poodles are sensitive dogs who like to live in peaceful environments. If your house is full of chaos, it can cause your Poodle unnecessary stress. Though they are good with kids, they often don't do well in homes with lots of children where there may be a great deal of yelling and tension.

Breed Standard

The Standard for the Poodle (Toy variety) is the same as for the Standard and Miniature varieties except as regards heights.

General Appearance, Carriage and Condition
That of a very active, intelligent and elegant-appearing dog, squarely built, well proportioned, moving soundly and carrying himself proudly. Properly clipped in the traditional fashion and carefully groomed, the Poodle has about him an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself.

Size, Proportion, Substance
The Standard Poodle is over 15 inches at the highest point of the shoulders. Any Poodle which is 15 inches or less in height shall be disqualified from competition as a Standard Poodle.
Poodle (Miniature)

The Miniature Poodle is 15 inches or under at the highest point of the shoulders, with a minimum height in excess of 10 inches. Any Poodle which is over 15 inches or is 10 inches or less at the highest point of the shoulders shall be disqualified from competition as a Miniature Poodle.

The Toy Poodle is 10 inches or under at the highest point of the shoulders. Any Poodle which is more than 10 inches at the highest point of the shoulders shall be disqualified from competition as a Toy Poodle.

As long as the Toy Poodle is definitely a Toy Poodle, and the Miniature Poodle a Miniature Poodle, both in balance and proportion for the Variety, diminutiveness shall be the deciding factor when all other points are equal.

Proportion - To insure the desirable squarely built appearance, the length of body measured from the breastbone to the point of the rump approximates the height from the highest point of the shoulders to the ground.
Poodle (Toy)

Substance - Bone and muscle of both forelegs and hindlegs are in proportion to size of dog.

Head and Expression
(a) Eyes-- very dark, oval in shape and set far enough apart and positioned to create an alert intelligent expression. Major fault: eyes round, protruding, large or very light.

(b) Ears-- hanging close to the head, set at or slightly below eye level. The ear leather is long, wide and thickly feathered; however, the ear fringe should not be of excessive length.

(c) Skull-- moderately rounded, with a slight but definite stop. Cheekbones and muscles flat. Length from occiput to stop about the same as length of muzzle.

(d) Muzzle-- long, straight and fine, with slight chiseling under the eyes. Strong without lippiness. The chin definite enough to preclude snipiness. Major fault: lack of chin. Teeth-- white, strong and with a scissors bite. Major fault: undershot, overshot, wry mouth.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck well proportioned, strong and long enough to permit the head to be carried high and with dignity. Skin snug at throat. The neck rises from strong, smoothly muscled shoulders. Major fault: ewe neck.

The topline is level, neither sloping nor roached, from the highest point of the shoulder blade to the base of the tail, with the exception of a slight hollow just behind the shoulder.

(a) Chest deep and moderately wide with well sprung ribs. (b) The loin is short, broad and muscular. (c) Tail straight, set on high and carried up, docked of sufficient length to insure a balanced outline. Major fault: set low, curled, or carried over the back.

Strong, smoothly muscled shoulders. The shoulder blade is well laid back and approximately the same length as the upper foreleg. Major fault: steep shoulder.

(a) Forelegs - Straight and parallel when viewed from the front. When viewed from the side the elbow is directly below the highest point of the shoulder. The pasterns are strong. Dewclaws may be removed.

Feet - The feet are rather small, oval in shape with toes well arched and cushioned on thick firm pads. Nails short but not excessively shortened. The feet turn neither in nor out. Major fault: paper or splay foot.

The angulation of the hindquarters balances that of the forequarters.

(a) Hind legs straight and parallel when viewed from the rear. Muscular with width in the region of the stifles which are well bent; femur and tibia are about equal in length; hock to heel short and perpendicular to the ground. When standing, the rear toes are only slightly behind the point of the rump. Major fault: cow-hocks.

(a) Quality--(1) Curly: of naturally harsh texture, dense throughout. (2) Corded: hanging in tight even cords of varying length; longer on mane or body coat, head, and ears; shorter on puffs, bracelets, and pompons.

(b) Clip-- A Poodle under 12 months may be shown in the "Puppy" clip. In all regular classes, Poodles 12 months or over must be shown in the "English Saddle" or "Continental" clip. In the Stud Dog and Brood Bitch classes and in a non-competitive Parade of Champions, Poodles may be shown in the "Sporting" clip. A Poodle shown in any other type of clip shall be disqualified.

(1) "Puppy"--A Poodle under a year old may be shown in the "Puppy" clip with the coat long. The face, throat, feet and base of the tail are shaved. The entire shaven foot is visible. There is a pompon on the end of the tail. In order to give a neat appearance and a smooth unbroken line, shaping of the coat is permissible. (2) "English Saddle"--In the "English Saddle" clip the face, throat, feet, forelegs and base of the tail are shaved, leaving puffs on the forelegs and a pompon on the end of the tail. The hindquarters are covered with a short blanket of hair except for a curved shaved area on each flank and two shaved bands on each hindleg. The entire shaven foot and a portion of the shaven leg above the puff are visible. The rest of the body is left in full coat but may be shaped in order to insure overall balance. (3) "Continental"--In the "Continental" clip, the face, throat, feet, and base of the tail are shaved. The hindquarters are shaved with pompons (optional) on the hips. The legs are shaved, leaving bracelets on the hindlegs and puffs on the forelegs. There is a pompon on the end of the tail. The entire shaven foot and a portion of the shaven foreleg above the puff are visible. The rest of the body is left in full coat but may be shaped in order to insure overall balance. (4) "Sporting"--In the "Sporting" clip, a Poodle shall be shown with face, feet, throat, and base of tail shaved, leaving a scissored cap on the top of the head and a pompon on the end of the tail. The rest of the body, and legs are clipped or scissored to follow the outline of the dog leaving a short blanket of coat no longer than one inch in length. The hair on the legs may be slightly longer than that on the body.

In all clips the hair of the topknot may be left free or held in place by elastic bands. The hair is only of sufficient length to present a smooth outline. "Topknot" refers only to hair on the skull, from stop to occiput. This is the only area where elastic bands may be used.

The coat is an even and solid color at the skin. In blues, grays, silvers, browns, cafe-au-laits, apricots and creams the coat may show varying shades of the same color. This is frequently present in the somewhat darker feathering of the ears and in the tipping of the ruff. While clear colors are definitely preferred, such natural variation in the shading of the coat is not to be considered a fault. Brown and cafe-au-lait Poodles have liver-colored noses, eye-rims and lips, dark toenails and dark amber eyes. Black, blue, gray, silver, cream and white Poodles have black noses, eye-rims and lips, black or self colored toenails and very dark eyes. In the apricots while the foregoing coloring is preferred, liver-colored noses, eye-rims and lips, and amber eyes are permitted but are not desirable. Major fault: color of nose, lips and eye-rims incomplete, or of wrong color for color of dog.

Parti-colored dogs shall be disqualified. The coat of a parti-colored dog is not an even solid color at the skin but is of two or more colors.

A straightforward trot with light springy action and strong hindquarters drive. Head and tail carried up. Sound effortless movement is essential.

Carrying himself proudly, very active, intelligent, the Poodle has about him an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself. Major fault: shyness or sharpness.

Major Faults
Any distinct deviation from the desired characteristics described in the Breed Standard.

Size-- A dog over or under the height limits specified shall be disqualified. Clip-- A dog in any type of clip other than those listed under coat shall be disqualified. Parti-colors-- The coat of a parti-colored dog is not an even solid color at the skin but of two or more colors. Parti-colored dogs shall be disqualified.

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