Poodles are an adorable breed of dog with several variations—there are Standard Poodles, Toy Poodles, and Miniature Poodles. Each of these Poodle variations are different sizes, and although they must be groomed much the same way, each variation has different grooming needs.
Poodles are extremely intelligent dogs, and they are often mischievous in their behavior. Poodles are known for their curly coat; however, those not familiar with the breed may not realize the Poodle has a double coat, meaning Poodles have an undercoat that requires its own type of grooming.
Poodles were originally developed as hunting companions. They were trained to accompany humans when duck hunting and their job was to go into the water and bring back any ducks the hunter harvested. Although today we think of Poodles as being chiefly companion dogs, there are some hunters across the world that use a Poodle as a water retrieving dog.
FUN FACT: The Standard Poodle’s unique trademark haircut is actually a functional trim! The cut was originally intended to make the Poodle a better swimmer. However, sporting less hair would make the Poodle vulnerable to chill in cold water, so owners began leaving tufts of hair in the upper torso area as well as around the joints as a means of protecting the Poodle when he’s doing what he’s bred to do.
Poodles actually have three varying cuts when they are professionally groomed. If a Poodle is intended to enter in dog shows, then there are specific rules about where each puff of hair should be. An adult show Poodle must wear one of three cuts: the Continental Clip, the Modified Continental Clip, or the English Saddle. However, puppies may wear what is called the “Puppy” clip, which is an even amount of hair over the entire body.
Owners must also remember that Poodles are one of the most intelligent dog breeds, and they are incredibly active. Pet parents must allow for this when grooming the Poodle. If a Poodle will not be a show dog, pet parents should consider a haircut that will allow for the Poodle to be active and happy. Poodles love to swim, naturally; they also love to play fetch, going for extended walks, and they are great jogging companions.
Poodles do not have fur. Contrary to popular verbiage, Poodles have hair, not fur. They are known as hypoallergenic dogs, but that is because they really do not shed. Poodles do need to be groomed regularly, including bathing, brushing, and clipping. However, Poodles will not show signs of shedding like a different dog breed might. This is because fur grows up to a certain point, then it falls out. A Poodle’s hair will grow much like our human hair. Poodles DO experience hair thinning, but it is usually due to hormonal issues, such as a Poodle mom losing hair after pregnancy. If your Poodle begins to lose hair, you should see your vet as something could be occurring that requires medical attention.
Poodle Hair 101
Okay, so we’ve looked at a few fun facts regarding the Poodle breed. They are smart and active dogs that can be a joy for their owners. However, many pet parents are reluctant to purchase a Poodle because they do require a great deal of upkeep when compared with other breeds.
When a Poodle is not properly cared for, skin infections can occur. This is a costly but preventable issue and one that only vets can treat. Furthermore, when pet parents unwittingly neglect to properly groom a Poodle’s coat, it may have to be completely shaved off (like a sheep’s wool). Poodle hair can mat easily without proper care, and the hair can develop terrible tangles that can’t always be brushed out. Poodle hair is very soft, and it is typically described as wavy, not curly.
Poodles do not have a double coat; however, when their hair falls out (just as a human’s hair would) the surrounding wavy hair traps the dead hair. This is what causes the matting and tangling described above. Poodles require grooming every three to six weeks, and some experts would recommend the assistance of a professional. It’s helpful to know the dog grooming prices if you decide to hire people to groom your poodle. However, you can do a good bit of grooming at home if you so desire.
Poodle Grooming Styles
Previously we described the three acceptable hair cuts for a Poodle – the Continental, the English Saddle, and the Modified Continental. French hunters originally developed the pattern for the Poodle hair cut; the topknot on the head of Standard Poodles was functional in that hunters left this tuft of hair so they could see their dogs in the water.
The Continental Cut involves shaving the Poodle along the stomach and the lower torso, leaving a tuft of hair at the tail, on the shoulders, on each paw, and at the ears. Some think of this as the “Lion Cut.”
The Modified Continental Clip is basically the same, but the fur on the rear end of the dog (not the tip of the tail) is shaved as well. It is chiefly popular with toy Poodles.
The English Saddle clip is much like the Continental Clip, but the hair on the tail is left as is, and the hair on the legs of the dog is left longer—no “pom-poms” on the paws of the Poodle. The hair is actually uniformly cut on each leg.
Again, many pet parents who choose to clip their Poodles with any of these three accepted haircut styles rely on a professional groomer to properly cut the hair. However, if you never intend to show your Poodle, there are some easy and popular hair cuts that you can do yourself at home.
Popular and Easy Poodle Hairstyles
The Puppy Clip
This hair cut shaves the face, feet, and tail, and the remainder of the Poodle’s hair is cut with scissors. Some owners will ask for a topknot. NOTE: The puppy clip is accepted for dog shows as long as the dog is under twelve months of age.
The Lamb Clip
This haircut requires that all hair be clipped to the same (short) length. The idea is to leave enough waves in the hair so that it looks like the dog is wearing a fuzzy coat.
The Teddy Bear Clip
Again, this hair cut leaves the Poodle with hair evenly shorn across the head and body. Hence, the dog looks like a teddy bear.
The Bikini Clip (also known as the Miami clip)
With this hair cut, hair is shaved on the face, feet, and tail, but the other hair is cut to a uniform length of the owner’s choice.
The Kennel Clip (also known as the Utility Clip)
This is also a “functional hair cut that features a tail pouf and a topknot on the dog’s head. The rest of the hair is cut in the same length with the exception of the face and feet (often trimmed shorter).
The Town and Country Clip
This style requires that the belly neck, face, and feet are all shaved, but any remaining hair is long and untrimmed.
What Tools Will I Need to Groom my Poodle at Home?
You really don’t need anything fancy at home to groom your Poodle, especially if you don’t intend to show her. You can get a regular clipper that will help to uniformly trim her hair. You’ll probably want some scissors, a slicker brush, and a detangling brush or comb for daily grooming.
You’ll want a shampoo made for dogs, and one that is truly all-natural. Now, that means you’ll need to turn the bottle over and read the ingredients list. Stay away from shampoos that have lots of chemicals, artificial colors, and fragrances. Open the bottle, look at the consistency, and take a whiff of the product. If the product is truly all-natural, the shampoo will be thin, almost reminiscent of water. Thickening agents are chemicals that can harm your dog’s skin. The product should have a light scent if any scent at all (added fragrances do the same damage as chemical thickening agents—they can burn your dog’s sensitive skin). The color of the product should be a very light yellow, almost clear in appearance. Again, the addition of dyes can harm your dog; look for bright blue and bright pink—this is a tell-tale sign that the shampoo isn’t all-natural.
For Poodles, you’ll also want a conditioner. Follow the same guidelines for choosing a product. Avoid products with lots of chemicals and additives.
You’ll probably want to invest in a blow dryer for your dog after bath time. You may be able to find a blow dryer just for dogs at your local pet store.
How Can I Prepare my Puppy for her First Grooming?
It is highly important that you begin socializing your dog with the idea of grooming almost immediately. You can do this as soon as you bring her home. Make a habit of rubbing her paws, her back, and especially her back legs. Get her used to you handling these parts of her body that most dogs are a little reluctant to allow your touching.
As she grows older (within a week or two of bringing her home), introduce her to the brush and comb. Let her look at them before you begin using them. Rub them over her feet and her back. Gauge how she reacts. You may be able to begin gently combing or brushing her fairly quickly. If so, try to make brushing a part of your daily routine. It will prevent tangling, and it will further expose her to grooming.
Now, when she is comfortable with brushing and with you handling her legs and feet, then it is time to introduce the clipper. You’ll need to be careful here. You don’t want her to become frightened at this stage, or it could affect how she responds to grooming her entire life. Show her the clipper and scissors while the clipper is powered OFF. Let her sniff and inspect as she sees fit. Then run the clipper over her feet, legs, and back—but make sure the power is still off. Give her a few repeat sessions until you see she isn’t nervous when you bring these tools out.
When you see she is calm with the presence of the clipper, you can power it on to a low setting. Do your best to turn it on while your dog can see the tool in your hand. Personally, you should choose a clipper made for pets as these tend to be quieter than if you choose a “human” clipper.
Take the powered-on clipper and run it (no attachment should be on at this time, just run the body of the machine over her body so she can get used to the idea of the clipper) over her back and her legs. Never run the clippers if you see your dog becoming anxious. You may need to repeat this a couple of different times before she’ll accept the noise and vibration of the clippers. This is also how you introduce dog nail grinders to your pooch prior to grooming.
Once your dog accepts the tools of grooming, you can begin carrying out grooming at home.
1. How often should Poodles be groomed?
Some Poodles need clipping every three to six weeks. However, this will depend upon the hairstyle you choose for Fido. Many Poodles can be bathed and slipped every six weeks and have very healthy hair as a result.
2. How do you groom a poodle?
It depends on how you choose to keep your Poodle clipped. Poodles need daily brushing and consistent use of a de-matting tool. They also need to be clipped at least once a month, along with a monthly bath.
3. Can you groom a poodle yourself?
Yes! Unless you choose to show your Poodle, most pet parents can clip the Poodle themselves.
4. What happens if you don’t groom a poodle?
The Poodle that is left ungroomed may develop lots of tangles and matting of the hair . He may need to have the entire coat shaved off if this happens. Poodles that are not groomed may also develop skin infections that will have to be treated by a vet.