So you've decided to add a dog to your family! Congratulations! There are few animal relationships more rewarding than the one between a dog and its human "pack".
Now comes the task of deciding which breed you would like. With over 150 registered breeds, there is an astounding amount of variety in the canine world. One of the most recognizable breeds is the Standard Poodle, the largest of the three types of poodles. Is this regal breed the one for you? Here are some important things to consider about the Standard Poodle before adding one to your family.
The most noticeable trait of the poodle is its famous curly coat. Poodles are covered head to toe in hair that naturally grows into tight curls. Unlike most dogs, who have a double coat consisting of a outer layer of tough guard hairs that protect a softer down layer underneath, poodles have a "single coat." Their bodies are covered with one layer of fur that is more similar to human hair than most animal fur. This unique coat serves the poodle is its traditional job as a retriever, as water flows quickly out of the hair and helps the dog dry out faster and stay warm.
This curly haircoat will grow indefinitely, so grooming is a necessity for any poodle to stay clean and healthy. A professional dog groomer can clip a poodle into a variety of cuts, from the instantly recognizable Continental show trim that features artfully arranged poofs, to a shorter, low maintenance kennel clip. Because it is a big job, professional grooming can be quite expensive for a Standard Poodle, often over $100.
Another option is to learn to clip your poodle yourself. This requires a set of professional grooming clippers (clippers intended for humans usually aren't powerful enough) along with a maintenance kit, combs, scissors, and a LOT of patience! This method can be expensive upfront, as a good set of clippers and related equipment can cost several hundred dollars. It takes time to learn how to clip a poodle, as well as training your dog to accept the clippers and stand patiently during the groom. There are books and tutorial videos online demonstrating the proper method for safely grooming a poodle. It's a challenge, but with proper time and patience, it can be a great way to train and bond with your pet.
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Underneath that mop of curls, every poodle has a vibrant personality! In general, Standard Poodles are friendly, well-mannered dogs. They are very people oriented, often described as "velcro dogs" because of their intense desire to be near their humans. They love children and other dogs, and can usually get along with animals like cats and livestock if properly exposed to them in puppyhood.
One important aspect of their personality is prey drive: the desire to pursue, catch, and kill prey. Poodles were originally bred as hunting dogs, and most of them still retain this instinctive hunting drive. It is wise to raise a Standard Poodle puppy along with cats or small dogs so they see them as companions and not prey. Small wildlife like birds, squirrels, and rabbits will almost always be chased, so keep this in mind when outdoors!
If you are looking for a companion for hiking, jogging, or hunting, a Standard Poodle is a great choice! They are high energy dogs, and will gladly run and play for many hours. As a result, regular exercise is important for a healthy and happy dog. Built up energy will be redirected elsewhere...sometimes in bad habits like excessive barking or destructive chewing.
A fenced yard is a plus, but what Standards really love is exercise time with their humans. They need at least one walk a day, more if possible! Hiking, biking, jogging, and other outdoor activities are heaven to a poodle. Dog parks can also be helpful, because they allow your pet to run and play with other dogs in a controlled environment.
Before getting a Standard Poodle, make sure you can commit to giving your dog the exercise he needs.
Dogs are generally healthy and hardy animals, but each breed has its own set of potential health problems. A controversial process called "linebreeding", which was very common in the middle of the 20th century, caused certain problems to be amplified in each breed.
Standard Poodles can be affected by a number of health issues. Hip displaysia, a painful disorder where the hip joints don't function properly, can be seen in the breed. They can contract Addison's disease, where the adrenal glands don't produce the proper amounts of a certain type of hormone. The most frightening problem can be Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, more commonly known as Bloat, a fatal condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists around.
These problems are not common in most poodles, but it's important to consider them before getting a dog. Remember that all pets need regular checkups and vaccinations to stay healthy!
Another important aspect of a Standard Poodle is their voice. Poodles LOVE to bark! They have a strong, powerful voice, and they use it whenever they can. The good part of this is that they make excellent watch dogs, and will immediately alert you of any unusual sights or sounds. On the other hand, this could potentially be a problem in an apartment or other dwelling where there are neighbors close by, or if anyone in the household is sensitive to loud noise.
Does the Standard Poodle sound like the right dog for you? Choosing a breed that is a good match for you and your family is very important to ensure a lifetime of happy dog ownership. Good luck in your search!