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If you're looking for a curly-coated companion, you have a lot of options. There are either three or five types of poodles, depending on who you ask, and that's before we even get to doodles, the designer poodle-crossbreeds that have won over America.

The different types of poodles are classified by size. Smaller sizes of poodles were bred from larger poodles, so all of the sizes have ancestry and certain personality traits in common. But each is predisposed to different types of health problems

Here, we'll look at the common personality traits of poodles, what new poodle owners should expect, and what the differences are between each of the poodle breeds

What Makes a Poodle a Poodle?

Types of poodles: poodle swimming while carrying a toy

Whenever you get a purebred puppy — or any puppy — you're taking a gamble. Dog breeds are a much better predictor of looks than personality. So, while there are breed personality descriptions, every dog is different. It’s similar to how different you are from your siblings. However, we can draw a few basic conclusions about poodles based on their history.

Poodle Ancestry

However, you can get an idea of a dog's most likely personality traits by looking at what it was bred to do. And while you might imagine poodles were bred to walk the posh streets of Paris, au contraire! These pooches were actually bred to retrieve. They are water dogs, and their curly coats were originally used to protect them from cold water.

This is reflected in the word “poodle,” which comes from the German "pudelin," which means "splashing in puddles." And although we frequently refer to this breed as the "French poodle," these pups are originally from Germany and not France. Over time, poodles began to be bred as companion dogs instead of water dogs, but all of the poodle breeds still maintain a strong connection to their working dog ancestors.

Behavioral Characteristics

Like most retrievers, poodles tend to be an intelligent breed. (They rank high in lists of the smartest dog breeds.) They're also active, playful, and attentive to their owners. 

Because they were bred to work in the field with hunters for most of the day, they require a fair amount of exercise and like to spend a lot of time with their owners. They can be prone to separation anxiety if they're left alone for too long. Leaving them with puzzle toys or long-lasting treats, like Yak Chews, can help decrease separation anxiety by keeping your dog entertained.  

Smaller poodle breeds tend to be easier to exercise than standard poodles, especially if you have limited space. 

Poodles are also known for being friendly and polite. They make good family dogs, and they're well-behaved with other dogs, cats, and kids — as long as they're socialized from an early age. While all poodles make good watchdogs and will alert you to visitors, they're usually too polite to be guard dogs

The Poodle Look 

2 groomed white poodles

There is probably no breed more famous for its looks than the poodle. Their signature curly coat can be styled into a variety of cuts. And while elaborate pom poms may be popular at dog shows, most poodle owners prefer more practical poodle haircuts, like a puppy cut or teddy bear cut.   

The poodle coat can come in many color variants, including solid black, white, grey, or chocolate, as well as less common colors like apricot, café-au-lait, and parti (a combination of black and white that's reminiscent of cookies 'n cream). 

Because of the texture of their coat, purebred poodles are virtually non-shedding and are considered to be the best dog for allergy sufferers. But, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, so if you are allergic to dogs, try fostering a poodle or spending time in a home with purebred poodles before you bring home a poodle puppy

Now that you know the similarities among all poodles, let's take a look at the different poodle breeds

The 3 Types of Poodles Recognized by the AKC

The American Kennel Club, the authority on purebred dogs in the United States, recognizes three different breeds of poodles. But many poodle enthusiasts recognize two additional ones (more on those below). 

AKC recognition isn't necessary to make a good pet, but it's important to some dog owners for two reasons: Conforming to an AKC recognized breed is essential if you want to compete in dog shows, and AKC certification can help dog owners identify good breeders who produce happy, healthy, well-adjusted puppies.  

Here are the three sizes that the AKC recognizes. Note: The AKC measures height from the ground to the top of a dog's shoulder when the dog is standing. So, each of these poodle breeds will appear taller than the height listed because this height doesn't include their neck and head. 

1. Standard Poodles 

Types of poodles: Standard poodle biting a frisbee

Size: Over 15 inches and 40-70 pounds 

Life span: 10-18 years

Also called royal standard or royal poodles, the standard poodle is the original of the poodle breeds, and it's the largest. This dog is a good choice for anyone with an outdoor space, an active lifestyle, or boisterous children who may accidentally hurt a small dog.  

The standard poodle is less prone to orthopedic issues than smaller poodles, but it is more prone to two health issues: gastric dilatation with bloat and sebaceous adenitis. These dogs may benefit from digestive supplements and skin and coat supplements

The AKC recommends a hip evaluation and ophthalmologist evaluation for standard poodle puppies in addition to testing for: 

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Von Willebrand's disease
  • Immune-mediated disorders.  

2. Miniature Poodles 

Couple walking a white Miniature Poodle

Size: 10-15 inches and 10-15 pounds 

Life span: 10-15 years 

The next size down for AKC poodle breeds, the miniature poodle is a small breed dog with the smarts and stamina of a large breed dog. If you're looking for a jogging companion who is still happy in an apartment, a mini poodle might be for you. 

This size of poodle can also be the ideal companion for children. It's too small to easily knock children down, but it's not so small as to be easily injured. 

Miniature and toy poodles are more prone to orthopedic issues, including Legg-Calve-Perthes and luxating patellas. These dogs may benefit from mobility supplements

For miniature poodles, the AKC recommends: 

  • Hip evaluation
  • PRA Optigen DNA Test
  • Ophthalmologist evaluation
  • Patella evaluation

Plus, all breeds of poodle should undergo testing for: 

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Von Willebrand's disease
  • Immune-mediated disorders.  

3. Toy Poodles 

Types of poodles: Toy Poodle at an agility course

Size: Under 10 inches and 4-6 pounds 

Life span: 10-18 years 

Toy poodles are the smallest poodle breed recognized by the AKC, but not the smallest of all the poodles. These pups are a great option for city dwellers, or for anyone looking for a lap dog who can still join you at the beach or on a short hike. 

Because of their smaller size, toy poodles can be more fragile than larger poodles. So, they won't be as well suited to a household with boisterous children. 

Toy poodles are prone to the same health issues as miniature poodles and breeders should do the same health screenings we listed above. 

2 More Types of Poodle 

In addition to the AKC recognized breeds, there are two additional poodles: a medium size and an extra, extra small. If you choose either of these breed sizes, your poodle won't be able to compete in dog shows in the U.S., but they will still be able to compete in skill-based canine competitions, like obedience, agility, and flyball.  

1. Moyen Poodles 

Moyen Poodle lying on a rug beside an empty food bowl

Size: 15-20 inches and 15-40 pounds 

Life span: 10-15 years

Also called medium poodles or Klein poodles, the Moyen poodle is smaller than a standard poodle but bigger than a miniature poodle. This breed is recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, an international breed certification organization similar to the AKC

Although you won't find AKC-certified breeders for Moyen poodles in the United States, you can make sure you're choosing a responsible breeder by checking that they perform all the recommended health screenings that we listed for the AKC-recognized breeds above.. 

2. Teacup Poodles 

Types of poodles: Teacup Poodle

Size: Under 9 inches and under 6 pounds

Life span: 10-15 years 

If you look at the AKC size standards for a toy poodle and then look at the size of a teacup poodle, you'll notice a lot of overlap. Teacup poodles are ever so slightly smaller at nine inches, they can also weigh less than four pounds. 

But the smaller the dog is, the more likely they are to inherit health conditions because the smallest dog breeds are often created by breeding the runts of different litters. The runt of the litter can be born healthy, but they are often born with congenital problems that are responsible for their low birth weight. The prevalence of health problems among teacup dogs has led many to question the ethics of breeding teacup pups

If you're longing for a teacup poodle, take extra care in choosing your breeder, and make sure they perform all the relevant health screening on both their parent dogs and their puppies. 

What About Doodles? 

Cute Goldendoodle puppy

Doodles, or poodle mixes, are quickly becoming some of the most popular dogs. While they are not purebred dogs, they're considered designer mixes, and they can cost as much or more than a purebred dog. 

These mixes are meant to be low-shedding dogs that are good for allergy sufferers, but there's no guarantee that a first-generation doodle won't shed. It often takes until the third generation of breeding to get a non-shedding dog. So, if you're an allergy sufferer looking for a doodle, choose your puppy carefully. 

These are some of the most popular poodle mixes:  

  • Labradoodle: A poodle crossed with a Labrador retriever 
  • Goldendoodle: A poodle crossed with a golden retriever 
  • Cockapoo: A poodle crossed with a cocker spaniel
  • Shih-poo: A poodle crossed with a shih tzu 
  • Maltipoo: A poodle crossed with a Maltese 
  • Schnoodle: A poodle crossed with a schnauzer 
  • Chi-poo: A poodle crossed with a chihuahua 
  • Pugapoo: A poodle crossed with a pug 
  • Poochon: A poodle crossed with a bichon
  • Cavapoo: A poodle crossed with a King Charles Cavalier  

Because doodles have become so popular, there's concern about overbreeding, which is when one bloodline is bred too often or breeders begin to breed lower-quality dogs (dogs that are less healthy or have personality disorders) in order to keep up with demand. 

Since doodles are not purebred dogs, there's no organization certifying the quality of doodle breeders. The AKC doesn't certify mixed breed dogs — not even designer mixes like doodles — but if a type of doodle, like a labradoodle for example, is intentionally bred from many generations, it could one day be recognized as a new, distinct breed. 

Until then, it's up to us as dog owners to carefully consider the breeders we work with and only purchase from breeders who conduct thorough health screenings and are diligent about socializing their puppies. By doing so, every doodle or poodle owner can help keep this breed happy and healthy.  

Poodles Turn Our Hearts to Puddles

Types of poodles: cute poodle kissing a woman

No matter which type of poodle you choose, we're sure your dog will be the best poodle EVER. These sporty, intelligent, and polite pups can adapt themselves to any surroundings from country homes to urban apartments. They adapt well to family life and can live peacefully with other dogs, cats, and kids. And with all the different sizes to choose from, you're sure to find a poodle that's the perfect fit. 

For more information on your pet's health and wellness, check out the Native Pet blog.


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