Poodles are great dogs for a variety of people. They are considered the second most intelligent breed (border collies coming in first) and are devoted to their special person. They also have the unique attribute of being allergy-friendly. Unlike most breeds which shed short hairs periodically or throughout the year and run the risk of dander, poodle-hair is more easily compared to human hair. It grows continually and does not fall out on its own. While this can make bathing and combing them a time-consuming ordeal, poodles are agreeable to being short-haired and thus needing no more than a quick de-matting once or twice a week. When trimmed down, poodles resemble a slender Labrador or retriever.
They are very athletic dogs and love to be on the go, yet they also acclimatize themselves to people who walk or run for only short periods. So long as they are given a daily walk, like any other dog, they are content. Due to their variety of sizes they can also fit in a variety of living conditions. The smallest size is a Toy which stands at or under 10 inches. Next is the Miniature standing between 10 and 15 inches, followed by the Standard at 15 inches and above.
Unofficially there is a fourth size smaller than the Toy. It is called the Teacup and dates back to the days when small dogs were the fad in the French and English courts. They were specially bred to fit into a cup, hence the name. Being an unofficial size there is no standard to measure them by, but any incredibly small poodle is sometimes called a Teacup.
Temperament-wise poodles are naturally cautious and wary around strangers, yet typically warm up quickly if introduced. They are a friendly breed overall and if introduced to varieties of strangers throughout puppy-hood they are quick and eager to make friends. Dogs less used to seeing strangers may take longer to warm up, if ever, and are more likely to remain on guard.
Poodles are protective of their human families and their ‘territory.’ Unlike most dogs which bark continually without or during an attack, poodles are just as likely to approach silently and with little or no warning. They do not bite and hold on but prefer to take nips to drive people away. In the dog world, poodles are the ninjas.
At the same time, they are sensitive to being scolded and will change their ways if caught and chastised by their owner. It may take several times but it will happen. Poodles cannot bear to be in disfavor with the people they love.
Perhaps because of their original purpose, poodles of all sizes have a marked tendency to point or try to hunt other animals, including but not limited to rabbits, birds, horses, and the like. With proper training, poodles have proven to be excellent hunting dogs. Their athleticism and intelligence also translates well to competitions in agility and in performing tricks.
Toys and Miniatures generally die of old age and Standards usually die due to Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (Bloat) and Addisons. As they get older cancer also becomes a risk. The main illnesses that endanger poodles, including those listed above, are Cushings, Epilepsy, Hip Dysplasia, Hypothyroidism, Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, and Atrial Septal Defect.
In general, however, the poodle lives a long and active life. Their lifespan is around 12 years for Standards and around 14-15 years for Miniatures and Toys. Some Toys have been known to live for 20 years if kept in good health and with a good diet. As with humans, much depends on good diet, exercise, vaccinations and genetics.Poodle Health Information
Official Poodle Breed Information