Initially bred for retrieving game from water, poodles are a European breed first documented in Germany in the 14th century. They've become France's national dog and gained worldwide popularity.
Their distinctive show cuts have evolved from practical origins, yet poodles maintain their intelligent, working-dog essence. Their wooly coats are specialized for aquatic environments, deriving from the German "pudel," meaning "to splash in water."
How many sizes of poodles are there?
The American Kennel Club acknowledges three poodle sizes:
Unofficial sizes include:
Giant Poodle: essentially taller Standard Poodles, not a separate breed, sometimes referred to as Royal Poodles, standing over 20 inches at the shoulder.
Teacup Poodle: ultra-small Toy Poodles, not officially recognized, standing about 8 inches tall and weighing under 7 lbs.
Coat color and grooming for poodles
Poodles recognized for showing are single solid colors, with the breed standard including white, apricot, brown, black, blue, cream, red, and silver. Non-standard colors feature patterns or combinations, such as two-toned or sable coats. Regular grooming is crucial due to their non-shedding, continuously growing wooly hair, requiring professional grooming every six weeks or so.
Apricot (a creamy tan-orange colour)
Blue (a deep grey)
Poodles with two or more colours in their coat are considered non-breed standard, although they're still very attractive:
Black, apricot, brown, blue, cream, red or silver with white patches
Particolor (mostly white with coloured patches)
Black and tan
Sable (just the hair tips are black and the rest of the hair is a different color.)
There are lots of other beautiful poodle coat colours, like merle (mottled grey) or phantom (mostly one colour, but with splashes of a second colour in a distinctive pattern on the face, chest, and legs). They might not fit the highest show standards for the breed, but they still have attractive and interesting coats.
Grooming and Poodle cuts
Poodles are pretty high-maintenance. Wooly Poodle hair grows continuously and doesn’t shed, so it needs daily brushing and clipping or professional grooming at least every six weeks.
If you’re thinking about buying a Poodle puppy, all that extra grooming is definitely an ongoing cost you should think about at the start.
The way poodles usually have their hair trimmed has become so distinctive that lots of people don’t even recognise an unclipped Poodle in their wooly, ungroomed state.
These are some of the poodle-cut styles your dog can try out:
Teddy bear cut: A teddy bear cut keeps the hair the same length all over your poodle’s face and body instead of shaving it closer in certain places. It gives a more natural, wooly appearance that can be less fussy to maintain. It’s sometimes called a puppy cut.
Lion cut – This is perhaps the most recognisable and extravagant poodle cut. It involves a shaved rear end, but with bobbles left unshaved on the tail and feet. It’s sometimes called a Continental cut.
Lamb cut: the poodle’s face, tail, and feet are shaved close, but the rest of the coat is left at a uniform length. This gives the distinctive puffy ears, topknot, and tail tip many people associate with a poodle.
Shaved: Sometimes poodles are just shaved all over. It’s certainly a practical and no-nonsense approach, especially to keep them cool in the summer. You’ll end up with a very different-looking dog than one with a traditional Poodle cut.
Poodle tail: Poodle tails are traditionally shaved but left with a distinctive ‘puff’ at the end. They certainly don’t grow like this naturally; a natural poodle tail is puffy from base to tip.
Are poodles hypoallergenic?
Technically, no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic, but poodles are often considered close-to-hypoallergenic due to minimal shedding and dander release. Regular grooming is essential to prevent matting.
Poodle temperament and characteristics
Poodles have a reputation for being one of the most intelligent dog breeds around. They're highly trainable and have a strong sense of fun.
Because they’re so clever, it’s really important to give them the company and activity they need to keep their busy brains occupied. How about trying some of these tennis ball games for dogs to get them thinking?
Thanks to their general good health, Poodles are a fairly inexpensive breed to insure. Pet insurance for poodles averages:
Toy Poodles are about 15-20% cheaper to insure than the other two types which might partly be because there are so many of them.
Poodle mixes – doodles and crossbreeds
Popular Poodle mixes, or "doodles," combine the Poodle's hypoallergenic coat with other breeds' traits.
The top crosses include Cockapoo, Cavapoo, Labradoodle, and Goldendoodle, among others. These mixes aim to blend the Poodle's qualities with those of other breeds for specific characteristics.
According to our data, the top 10 most popular Poodle crosses in 2021 were:
Australian Mini Labradoodle
Cockapoos were the first designer crossbreed to be developed, back in 1950s America and their popularity has soared in recent years.
They’re a cross between a Poodle and a Cocker Spaniel, with breeders hoping to combine the friendly and playful nature of the Cocker Spaniel, with the aptitude of the Poodle.
Cavapoos are another Spaniel Cross – this time combining a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle. As well as the desirable hypoallergenic traits of the Poodle, breeds aim to eliminate the genetic health conditions that Cavs are predisposed to.
This is the original ‘designer’ breed. It was this cute name for a cross between a Labrador and a Poodle that started the craze for creating mixed-breeds with specific requirements in mind.
The name ‘Labradoodle’ was first coined by Australian breeder Wally Conron in 1988, when he bred one to help a blind woman whose husband was allergic to most guide dog breeds. It soon became popular with dog owners, including the rich and famous – Jennifer Aniston, Elle Macpherson and Graham Norton are all Labradoodle fans.
A cross between a Poodle and a Golden Retriever. This crossbreed was first developed in the 1990s in both North America and Australia. Like the Labradoodle, the Goldendoodle was also created to act as a hypoallergenic service, guide and therapy dog – combining the intelligence of Poodle with the trainability of the Golden Retriever.
A cross between a toy or miniature Poodle and a Maltese. These tiny dogs tend to be affectionate and playful. Their size means they are suitable for apartment living, and the combination of these two parent breeds usually creates affectionate, gentle pooches who make great therapy dogs.
Both Poodles and Maltese dogs are non-shedders, so they are considered semi-hyperallergenic. This means a Maltipoo puppy is very likely to be hypoallergenic as well, though this can never be guaranteed.
There are loads of other interesting poodle crossbreeds not mentioned here, like the Pugapoo Pug and Poodle), Schnoodle (Schnauzer and Poodle and the PatterPoo (Patterdale Terrier and Poodle).
Frequently asked questions about Poodles (and Doodle mixes)s
Are all Poodle mixes hypoallergenic?
There’s never any guarantee that a Poodle cross will be as hypoallergenic as a purebred poodle. Sadly, it’s one reason why many of these crossbreeds find themselves in rescue centers after a previously owner has discovered they shed more than expected.
Do poodles bark a lot?
Poodles can have a reputation for incessant barking if they’re not well trained. It’s because they’re so clever–they quickly learn that barking gets them the attention they crave, so sometimes they’re accidentally trained to bark more.
Are poodles aggressive?
Poodles don’t have a reputation for aggression, but they can be quite highly strung, which might manifest as snarling or snapping in some circumstances.