Poodles sport a single coat with a curly texture. It's similar to human hair in that it doesn't have a genetically determined length -- it just keeps growing. Like human hair, it can be styled as plainly or as fancifully as you wish. It is, however, an ongoing maintenance challenge.
Neither you nor your furniture and friends will be covered with dog hair if there's a poodle in the house. Poodles do shed, but the dead hair remains trapped in the curls of the coat. Because the coat is so curly, dead skin cells (dander) also stay there, making the poodle a good breed for people with allergies. On the downside, the curls can also hold onto dust, mud, lint and even plant seeds.
All this shed hair must be removed from a long coat before it tangles irremediably into mats that must be scissored out, leaving the coat a ragged mess. Regular brushing at least three times a week can accomplish this. Brushing out a poodle is not difficult, but it is time-consuming. You'll need a pin brush or slicker brush, some conditioning spray and a lot of patience. If you're persistent, your poodle may even learn to sleep through her toilette.
Once your poodle is fully brushed from topknot to tail pompom, bathe her only if she really needs it. Poodles tend to have less of that "doggy" odor than most other breeds, but even they can become stinky if not maintained. If you notice a strong odor from your poodle, check her over to find the source -- it could be an ear infection, impacted anal glands or other medical problem. If it's just all over, she's probably rolled in something with an aroma that delights her, but offends you. It's important to use the right shampoo and conditioner on a poodle, and your vet or groomer can advise you on this. After the bath, towel-dry her as much as possible and use a blow dryer to finish the job.
Unless you insist on the bizarre topiary of a show coat, a poodle in a short clip of no more than 1 to 2 inches, whether all over or with shaved areas, can be attractive, stylish and far easier to maintain. You can buy clippers and learn to do this yourself or resort to a professional groomer every 6 to 8 weeks, but it will make regular brushing simpler and your dog much more comfortable.
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