How to Know If Your Dog Is a Miniature Poodle

Untended poodle coats can quickly become a mess.
i poodle image by veseliysyslik from

Poodles are smart, active dogs who can add a lot of fun to any household. If you aren’t sure whether your pet is a miniature poodle, but you think he might be, several indicators may help you to figure it out.


Poodles come in three sizes, but all three are considered to be variations of the same breed. Toy poodles are 10 inches or less when measured at the shoulders, miniature poodles are between 10 and 15 inches in height, and standard poodles are 15 inches or more. With your dog standing squarely on all fours, measure him from the floor to the highest point of the shoulders. If he is at least 10, but no more than 15 inches tall, he’s the right size to be a miniature poodle.


The thick, curly poodle coat is different from that of other breeds. It is a dense coat that never stops growing, and if not cared for can easily become a mass of mats and tangles. Poodles don’t shed like other dogs, either, making them a good choice for people who have allergies. A well-brushed poodle coat is full and fluffy, and the hair on a poodle’s ears is quite long, hanging well below the bottom of the ear. If your dog’s coat matches this description, he may be a miniature poodle.


Purebred poodles come in many different colors, including black, white, apricot, silver and red. If your dog is any solid color, he could be a poodle, but if he has more than one color, chances are he’s not a purebred miniature poodle. The exception to this rule is various shades of the same color, such as darker hair on his ears, or single silver hairs mingled with black to create an overall gray or silver color.

Other Considerations

Poodles have other features you can consider, such as long ears that hang straight down, elegant, fine-boned faces and no obvious jowls. They also have dark, expressive eyes and typically carry themselves proudly, moving easily when they walk, trot or run. If your dog has all these characteristics, he may very well be a miniature poodle, or he could be a mixed breed that favors the poodle side of the family.


While you should never consider breeding him, if your dog looks like a miniature poodle, you can register him with the American Kennel Club and get him a Purebred Alternative Listing/Indefinite Listing Privilege number. This number means he looks like a purebred miniature poodle, but you can’t prove it. When you get him a PAL/ILP number, he’s eligible to participate in many of the events the AKC sponsors, such as rally, obedience, tracking and agility. The number is easy to get and can be obtained by submitting two photos of your dog, along with the registration fee, to the American Kennel Club. Your dog can then join in the fun at AKC sporting events.

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