Standing straight and proud, the poodle is an elegant and intelligent dog with a distinctive, sculptable coat of thick, curly hair. The toy is the smallest of the three varieties of the poodle breed and, although his size is smaller, his grooming requirements are the same as his larger cousins'.
With dense, wiry hair in a strong curl, your poodle looks like the victim of an '80s perm. But this hair serves a purpose: Poodles traditionally worked as retrievers for hunters. The curl-topped dogs would jump into water after downed game, and their coats kept them warm on their cold swims.
To maintain the coat's appearance and health, you'll need to brush your tiny poodle daily to remove shed hair and smooth out tangles. The texture of your pup's coat means loose hair will not fall out of the coat once it releases, promoting the formation of mats. Use a pin brush or a slicker brush to go through the whole coat at least once a day.
Lightly spritz the coat with water or detangler spray before you brush, as dry-brushing tends to break the ends of the hair and cause static. Brush a small section at a time, and hold a batch of hair in your hand as you brush through the ends so you don't yank and hurt your pup if you encounter a tangle. Once that is smooth, move back toward the skin. Brush slowly to make sure you get through the entire coat, all the way to the skin, ending up with a smooth, untangled section before moving on.
Your little poodle's unique hair texture is a sculptor’s dream. His coat can be grown, clipped, trimmed and shaved into just about any shape you'd like. It grows fairly quickly, meaning you'll need to tend to his hairdo every three weeks or so to keep it looking neat and tidy. Show dogs are relegated to only four styles, but pet poodles can wear their hair however you like. Your bookstore or library should have plenty of books showing you how to properly primp your poodle in myriad styles, or you can leave the chore to a professional groomer.
Bathing your pint-size poodle is a regular chore, as his dense hair can hold the dirt, debris and smells he encounters in his daily journeys. He'll need a bath at least once a month, or more often if he seems particularly dirty. Brush him thoroughly before you put him in the tub, as water tends to “set” tangles, turning them into unholy mats and making them virtually impossible to remove without clipping.
Wetting and shampooing him may take some time, as his coat is thick and you'll need to make sure to get every part thoroughly. Run your fingers through his coat to help the water penetrate through to his skin. Once he's completely soaked, massage a gentle dog shampoo into the coat, making sure to lather well to remove all dirt. Rinse thoroughly, running your hand through his coat as before to get every hair. Any leftover shampoo will dry and irritate his skin, so once you're done rinsing, rinse again to be sure it's all washed away.
Leaving your poodle to air-dry will cause his coat to form incredibly tight curls, which will increase the danger of mats and make brushing more difficult. Dry him using a hair dryer on a low heat setting and a brush to loosen his curls. This may take some time, but it will give your toy poodle the best appearance once done.
The Eyes Have It
A sensitive soul, the poodle often weeps for the days of old when he romped happily in the streets of gay Paris. Well, not really. But your toy poodle does tend to have weepy eyes, leaking tears down his face which can stain his fur. Wipe his eyes daily with a cotton ball soaked in some warm water to pre-empt the problem. Many retail or pet stores sell products specially designed to remove tear stains; consider these if the marks are too stubborn to remove with just water.
Although well-hidden by his poofy hair, your toy poodle's ears will need checked on a weekly basis to ensure all is well inside. Their heavy, droopy nature mean what goes in may not come out easily, including moisture, debris and ear mites. Lift his ears once a week to check for redness or discharge, and clean them with a cotton ball and ear cleaner. Keep water and shampoo out of them during bath time by placing cotton balls inside as you wash him.
Your tiny toy's tiny toes need attention at least once a month, as those little claws can grow too long and cause pain if not trimmed regularly. Although you can technically do it if given some expert guidance from a groomer or your vet, it's best to leave this chore to the professionals. A little vein called the quick grows in each nail, and trimming the nails too short will cut the quick, causing bleeding, pain and yelping -- and unimaginable guilt for you. Save yourself the grief and let a pro do the clipping.
Hair grows between the pads on your poodle's feet, which can become matted and tangled with foreign objects. Check his feet once a week or so to make sure he's still clean and comfortable. If you find a problem, have the vet or a groomer check it out. The hair will need snipped regularly to prevent future problems, so have them do that while they're clipping your pooch's nails.
Jane Williams began her writing career in 2000 as the writer and editor of a nationwide marketing company. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Williams briefly attended college for a degree in administration before embarking on her writing career.