The national dog of France is often depicted as snooty, pampered, silly, dressed to kill and called Fifi. Whether she is a toy, miniature or standard poodle, she is far from empty-headed and, although her coat needs trimmed regularly by a professional groomer, she is not a high-maintenance dog.
Poodle Clip Styles
The French poodle is historically a German retriever breed called a "pudel," which means "to splash around in puddles." Interestingly, even the typical poodle haircut has its origins in hunting, the poodle's original activity. Hunters trimmed parts of her coat away to make it easier for her to swim and retrieve waterfowl from rivers. The style known as "the lion cut," or "continental clip," leaves the poodle with a full coat in front and a shaved rear. This style protected the parts most sensitive to cold, but made it easier for her to swim. The little muffs of hair on the legs protected her joints and, believe it or not, the pom-pom tail was supposed to act as a rudder. So, your poodle's appearance is that of a practical, working animal, not a dandified pooch. It is not necessary to clip her hair in this style, but if you intend to show your dog, the Kennel Club specifies the clip expected from the age and size of poodle.
Your poodle's curly coat needs regular attention. So if you want a poodle, be prepared to spend time and money at the groomers. If you don't, not only will your poodle start to look like a ragamuffin, she will smell and may develop skin diseases. Between visits to the groomers for a coat trim, bathe your poodle as often as weekly using a mild dog shampoo and conditioner to keep her coat soft. Remember to rinse her well to prevent skin irritations. If you let her coat dry naturally it curls more, which can make it more difficult to brush. For easier brushing and a less curly look, use a slicker brush and work through her coat as you blow-dry her hair. Brushing and combing her on a daily basis prevents mats forming and improves her circulation.
Ears, Eyes, Teeth and Nails
Check your poodle's ears regularly and clean them with a damp cotton pad when necessary. Poodles have hair inside the ears that needs removed to prevent ear infections. It is better to get a groomer to do this unless you are experienced. A poodle is one of the breeds whose eyes tear up, leaving reddish-brown stains around the eyes. This is more visible in light-colored poodles. Clean the eyes daily with a wet cotton pad to stop the secretions building up and hardening. Don't forget to use a clean cotton pad for each eye. Teeth and nail care is the same as for most dog breeds. Clean her teeth with canine toothpaste and a soft brush once a week and ask your vet to remove tartar if there is buildup. This is not something you can do at home. Her nails also need a regular trim, and as this is a delicate job you may prefer to let your groomer do it.
Exercise and Nutrition
A poodle needs a daily walk, but they're not the sort of dog that needs a yard to run around in. The toy and miniature poodles tend to be more active indoors than the standard poodle. In addition to making sure your poodle gets enough exercise, she needs good food. A balanced diet is necessary to keep her coat thick. Ask your vet about a breed-appropriate food brand for your poodle's size and age, and whether he recommends supplementing food with vitamins or essential fatty acids to keep her skin and coat healthy.
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.