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Breed Profile: Poodle

Proud, elegant, clever, and bred to live a life of luxury, is the first thing that comes to mind for many people when they see a Poodle. Yes, with its regal attitude and beautiful haircuts, the Poodle is a very impressive breed that has won many “best in show” awards. Rather than being the aloof type of dog that many make them out to be however, the Poodle is a wonderful and extremely affectionate, family dog.

History of the Poodle

One of the oldest breeds developed especially for hunting waterfowl, the Poodle is believed by most historians to have originated in Germany but developed France, into the distinct breed as we know it today. There are several other theories surrounding the origin of the Poodle, but no matter what it’s ancestry is, the general consensus is that the Poodle is one of the oldest breeds around.

Drawings found on Roman and Egyptian artifacts and tombs dating back to the 1st century BC, depict poodle-like dogs being used for the herding of animals, retrieving hunted game from marshes, as well as hauling in fishing nets.

It was only in the 1400s - or so many believe, that first Miniature and then Toy Poodles were developed, mainly for the elite of Paris, with the miniature and toy varieties being created not by breeding Poodles to smaller breeds, but rather breeding small Poodles to each other.

The large, Standard Poodle was used by the French for duck hunting, the Miniature Poodle for tracking down truffles in the woods, and the Toy Poodle bred simply to be a companion for nobility and the wealthy elite.

General Physical Characteristics

Toy Poodles are about 10” tall at the shoulder, and weigh around 6 to 9 pounds, with Miniature Poodles standing at around 11 to 15” tall and weighing about 15 to 17 pounds. The large Standard Poodle stands from about 15 to 22” tall, with females weighing from 45 to 60 pounds, and males between 45 and 75 pounds.

Poodles are a great choice for people with allergies since many Poodle-owners who are allergic, show no reactions at all. Their dense, wiry and curly hair and comes in a wide range of colours, such as black, white, cream, blue, grey, brown, silver, apricot, and café-au-lait, and is able to be shaped into a variety of interesting styles at the grooming parlour. Although the Poodles coat needs a lot of maintenance to keep it in good condition, there are many owners who like to take the easy and inexpensive way out, by simply having the high-maintenance coat shaved off entirely.

Temperament and Character

This is a loyal, loving, clever and mischievous breed that, despite a seemingly snooty attitude, is actually extremely playful and highly trainable. The Poodle is very protective of his family, and will sound the alarm if someone strange approaches the property. Even though he is very affectionate toward his family, he does take a bit of time to trust and get close to people he doesn’t know.

They get on exceptionally well with children, although a Toy Poodle, the smallest and most fragile of the breed, can possibly get hurt by small children who do not know how to handle and respect a dog properly.

Poodles get on well with other pets in the home, provided that they’ve known the other animal/s since puppyhood and/or have had plenty of opportunities to interact with other animals. Adult poodles that have always been an only pet however, will need some patience and training to accept a new addition to the family.

Life Span of the Poodle

The life span of the Poodle is anywhere between 12 and 15 years.

Common Health and Personality Issues

Although the Poodle, like any other breed, is prone to certain illnesses, this is not to say that all of them will suffer from any or all of the following:

  1. Addison's Disease – a very dangerous condition caused by insufficient production of adrenal hormones by the adrenal gland
  2. Cushings Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism) – caused by the overproduction of cortisol by the body
  3. Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus – a life-threatening condition caused when the stomach becomes distended with air or gas, and then twists over
  4. Epilepsy - idiopathic epilepsy, often inherited, and occurring in all types of Poodle
  5. Hip Dysplasia – an inherited disease, where the top of the femur and the hip socket do not fit together as they should
  6. Hypothyroidism – under-active thyroid gland
  7. Legg-Perthes Disease – a disease of the hip joint which affects many toy breeds
  8. Patellar Luxation – when the knee joint, usually of the hind leg, slips in and out of position, causing pain
  9. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)- an eye disease causing gradual deterioration of the retina
  10. Optic Nerve Hypoplasia – congenital failure of the optic nerve which eventually causes blindness
  11. Sebaceous Adenitis (SA) – genetic condition of the skin, mainly cosmetic, but does cause discomfort to the dog. There are various options for treating this disease
  12. Von Willebrand's Disease – a genetic disorder of the blood that causes problems with the blood’s ability to clot.

Poodles, just like most other breeds, tend to pick up weight quickly if overfed, so it is very important that they get enough exercise, are fed regular, measured meals, and have limited treats too, to prevent them from becoming obese.

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