They’re adorable, athletic, smart, and — as a bonus for allergy sufferers — somewhat hypoallergenic.

What are we talking about? The French Poodle!

This amazing dog has been popular in the US for over a hundred years and was one of the first breeds to be recognized by the AKC soon after it was founded. Their origins in Europe can be traced back an impressive 400 years.

Yep, these dogs have enjoyed a lot of time in the limelight.

While the dog itself is quite recognizable, many people get confused by the name. You hear about French Poodles and Poodles — are they the same breed? If they are, why are they sometimes referred to as French?

Let’s find out!

Facts on the French Poodle — Is It Real?

Of course, French Poodles are real dogs, over 110,000 of them are registered each year in 25 countries. The debate is over calling them French.

You see, though some people will state otherwise, almost everyone agrees that Poodles did not originate in France. They are actually distinguished dogs of German descent.

Even their name is German, it comes from the German word “pudelin” which means “to splash in the water.” In fact, they’re not even called Poodles in France. They are called Caniche, which means duck dug.

So why the French moniker? Well, the Poodle did become wildly popular in France when it was introduced. And it is the national dog of France to this day. So, it could be argued that France has adopted this adorable pup.

But the French aren’t the only ones…

History of the Poodle

Though Poodles fill a myriad of roles in modern society, their original purpose was to serve as duck-hunting dogs.

Their energy, intelligence, and even their characteristic curly coat were all carefully bred to produce a highly capable working dog. Their thick hair served to keep them warm when they retrieved ducks from cold water.

Even the somewhat fluffy traditional “Poodle cut” often seen on Standard Poodles hails back to their days as duck hunters. Cutting it short in certain areas gave them more freedom of movement in the water without losing the warmth around the vital organs.

Most agree the Poodle originated in Germany, but its popularity soon spread. They proved to be stellar water dogs and were used extensively for retrieving felled waterfowl and even lost bolts and arrows.

As highly intelligent dogs and natural entertainers, they could learn all sorts of tricks and it was common to see them performing in circuses. Plus, their excellent noses made them useful as truffle hunters. In short, people from every walk of life could find some reason to love this dog.

Their popularity grew quickly among European aristocrats, particularly those in France. They began breeding them smaller to create more comfortable lapdogs and thus began the variation of Poodle sizes we see today.

Standard poodle before the hair cut

Different Types of Poodle

In German, these dogs are called Pudel, in French Caniche, and in English Poodle or French Poodle.

With so many different names, it’s no wonder people get confused about the different types of Poodles. However, there is only one Poodle.

No matter what it is called, the breed still consists of the same genetic makeup. With the normal variation among individuals, all Poodles share the same basic demeanor and physical characteristics.

Though some will try to say that the French Poodle is a separate breed, it’s not true. All Poodles are Poodles regardless of what they are called.

Pedigree Poodle Breeds

There are, however, different categories of Poodle based on their size. The original Poodle was a large dog but European aristocrats wanted the desirable characteristics of the Poodle in a more manageable package.

Thus they began breeding them smaller and today there are three recognized sizes of Poodles in the US — the Standard, Miniature, and Toy. In France and Germany, there are four, they add the Moyen (Medium) size in between Standard and Miniature.

Standard Poodles

Standard Poodles are large dogs. They are defined as any Poodle that stands over 15 inches tall at the shoulder. However, they can grow up to 24 inches which is quite large for a dog!

Though tall, they tend to have a slim, athletic build and will weigh somewhere between 35 and 70 pounds.

Miniature Poodles

Miniatures are defined as those between 10 and 15 inches. They have the same basic physical characteristics and body shape, they simply come in a smaller package. Miniature Poodles typically weigh between 26 and 31 pounds.

Toy Poodles

Toy Poodles get even smaller. They are a relative newcomer to the Poodle family, having been bred around the turn of the twentieth century after coming to America.

Again, they have the same physical characteristics and demeanor as other Poodles with the exception of their size. These little guys have a maximum height of only 10 inches tall and only weigh about 14-17 pounds.

Miniature poodle sitting in his bed with grey background.

The Physical Appearance of Poodles

Poodles are popular dogs, but that’s not what makes them so easy to spot. They have a very distinctive appearance that makes them quite recognizable among dogs.

They are squarely built, athletic pups with smoothly muscled bodies. However, you often can’t see their body shape because it is covered with the Poodle's most recognizable feature, their tight curly hair.

This wiry coat is highly desirable due to the fact that it makes them “hypoallergenic” dogs due to low shedding. Keep in mind that Poodles still shed, but the loose hairs are usually caught up in the tight curls so they don’t leave it lying all over your house.

However, they do require regular grooming to keep their hair clean and neat. Otherwise, they’ll end up with hair mats that can lead to skin irritation and infections.

Poodles come in a wide variety of colors including:

  • Apricot
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Cafe au lait
  • Cream
  • Gray
  • Silver
  • Silver beige
  • white

There are lots of variations of these colors and some crossover as well, though these are the ones recognized as standard colors by the AKC.

Their hair can be cut in a variety of shapes from the traditional froofy look of the pampered standard Poodle to short sport cuts that are easy to care for.

The Personality of a Poodle

Poodles have awesome personalities, this is another reason why they are such popular dogs. They don’t make good watchdogs because they don’t tend to be aggressive and suspicious of strangers. However, they are super friendly and make wonderful family dogs.

An appropriately sized poodle is perfect for playing with small children. And, though energetic, they can also be calm and are happy to spend time cuddling with their owners (particularly the smaller varieties).

Poodles love interacting with their owners and are delighted to be involved in virtually any activity that includes spending time with you. They are highly intelligent and can be a little mischievous, but that just adds to the fun. Plus, you can teach them all sorts of cool tricks!

Fluffy dog in front of fire.

How to Care For Your Poodle

Caring for your Poodle is similar to caring for any dog. They need lots of love, exercise, healthy food, and grooming. Well, that last part is different than other dogs. Because of their unique hair, Poodles have unique grooming needs. However, their low-shedding quality makes up for it!

1. Exercise

Poodles were bred to work so they are active, energetic dogs. They are up for any physical activity and make great companions for hiking, jogging, and other outdoor activities.

Due to their heritage, they especially love swimming and retrieving things so always have a stick or ball on hand to toss.

The nice thing about Poodles is that when properly exercised they can also be calm. Other high-energy dogs can have a hard time being still and just sitting with their owners, but Poodles love to cuddle! After a good run, of course.

2. Grooming

Poodles need daily brushing to keep their hair from getting matted. If you don’t keep up with this, the hair can mat up near the roots. Once this happens, you’ll have to shave the hair off and start over from scratch.

To help avoid this problem, many Poodle owners keep their dogs’ hair clipped short. Some do this themselves, others prefer to take their dog to the groomer every 4 to 6 weeks.

3. Socialising

As a sociable breed, Poodles love being around humans. They also get along well with other animals and are great in multi-pet households. They are gentle with kids and make great companion dogs for people of all ages.

However, they don’t do well on their own and can suffer from separation anxiety. Once boredom sets in, behavioral problems can follow. This includes tearing up things they shouldn’t be tearing up and excessive barking. Once addressed, these problems are usually easily corrected.

poodle on skateboard

Is the Poodle Right for You?

By the time you’ve got to the end of this article, no doubt you’re excited about bringing home your own wriggling bundle of joy. But getting a dog is not only a privilege but also a responsibility.

Your Poodle will depend on you for all their basic needs and require constant care and attention to live a happy life. If you live by yourself in a tiny apartment and spend all day, every day at work, getting an active dog like a Poodle might not be the best choice.

However, if you like to spend active time outdoors, or have a family who would all enjoy a rambunctious pup, a Poodle can be the perfect companion!

Get more expert advice on pet-parenting by visiting the Off Leash blog at

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