The Breed History
"Poodle" likely derives from Pudel, a German term describing one who plays and splashes in water or puddles. The exact lines of genetic origin are obscured, but ancient breeds such as the Irish water spaniel, Rough haired water dog and others contribute to the type, and perhaps the first of the smaller types of poodles originated by crosses with terrier type for use in truffle hunting. German history records poodle type dogs in the 15th century. The toy version of poodle first widely entered the history record in the 18th century. Very early records in the Mediterranean place poodle type dogs in the first century. Though often referred to as the French poodle, the breed is not though to have originated there. AKC recognition occurred in 1887.
Breeding for Function
Originally these dogs were bred as gundogs for waterfowl hunting, as a water retriever. The origins of the fancy coat clips trace back to early times when the hunters clipped the bulk of the dog coat so that they would dry quickly, and to minimize the weight of the wet hair for ease of swimming, but they left fur over bony prominences to help insulate joints from the cold. In France, the dog was also used extensively as a circus dog. Toy, miniature, and standard poodles are all popular as companion dogs, and the smaller types were bred down in size from the standard; it was the larger standard poodle that was originally used for hunting. Guide dogs, therapy dogs, police work and obedience and agility competitions round out some of their modern functions.
All three types share the same breed standard, only the size and weight varies between the three.
Height at Withers: female up to 10" (25.4 cm), male up to 10" (25.4 cm)
Weight: females 6-9 lb (2.5-4 kg), males 6-9 lb (2.5-4 kg).
Height at Withers: female 10-15" (25.5-38 cm), male 10-15" (25.5-38 cm)
Miniature Weight: females 15-17 lb (7-8 kg), males 15-17 lb (7-8 kg).
Height at Withers: female 15 " (38 cm) or more, male 15" (38 cm) or more.
Standard Weight: females 45-60 lb (20-27 kg), males 45-70 lb (20-32 kg).
Coat: All solid colors accepted (e.g., apricot, black, gray, silver, blue, cafe-au-lait, cream) and the coat is dense, wiry and curly. If left unclipped, it tends to form ringlets (cording) and waves. There are specific clips used in show, and their coat is a distinguishing breed feature.
Longevity: 12-15 years. The smaller types may reach 15-17 years on average.
Points of Conformation: A long face, with medium-sized and leathered triangular ears lying flat, and wide, almond-shaped dark brown eyes, a slight stop, and fairly narrow muzzle typify the poodle head. They possess a level topline, feet are compact and webbed, and they have straight limbs with the dewclaws generally removed. Tails are usually docked to one half length, and they are proportioned to be as high as they are long. Their gait is lively and elastic, and they move straight.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Extreme intelligence, sociability, and excellent trainability are well known poodle traits. Very lively, they do tend to bark, and need to be socialized to other pets and people or else they can potentially be nippy. They need close human companionship and tend to be aloof with strangers. They are good alarm barkers.The poodles require regular clip and grooming (every 6-8 weeks), and are low shedding and low allergy dogs. They tend to need more frequent dental care. They do well in town or country and need moderate levels of exercise. They are high activity around the house, though the standard poodles are often less active indoors.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Echocardiographic Normal Values for Miniature Poodles:
Parameter Median/ (Range)
Weight (kg) - 3/ (1.4-9)
Heart rate (bpm) - 150/ (100-200)
LVPWD (mm) - 5/ (4-6)
LVPWS (mm) - 8/ (6-10)
LVD (mm) - 20/ (16-28)
LVS (mm) - 10/ (8-16)
FS (%) - 47/ (35-57)
EPSS (mm) - 0/ (0-2)
RVd (mm) - 4/ (2-9)
IVSd (mm) - 5/ (4-6)
IVSs (mm) - 8/ (6-10)
AOD (mm) - 10/ (8-13)
LAS (mm) - 12/ (8-18)
N - 20
LVPWD, LV posterior wall dimension at end-diastole; LVPWS, LV posterior wall thickness at end-systole; LVD, LV chamber dimension at end-diastole; LVS, LV chamber dimension at end-systole; FS, percent fractional shortening; EPSS, E-point septal separation; RVD, RV chamber dimension at end-diastole; IVSd, interventricular septal thickness at end-diastole; IVSs, interventricular septal thickness at end-systole; AOD, aortic root at end-diastole; LAS, left atrium at end-systole; N, number of animals.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 12.3% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Reported 9.7x odds ratio in Toy Poodles, 4.1x odds ratio in Miniature Poodles, and 3.2x odds ratio in Standard Poodles versus other breeds. OFA reports 4.4% affected.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): Autosomal recessive progressive rod cone degeneration (prcd) form seen in Minature and Toy Poodles. Age of onset between 3-8 years of age, eventually causing blindness. Optigen reports 3% testing affected, and 28% testing carrier in Miniature Poodles, and 5% testing affected, and 29% testing carrier in Toy Poodles. Dorn reports a 9.71x odds ratio versus other breeds. A genetic test is available.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 2.8% affected.
Legg-Perthes Disease: Polygenically inherited aseptic necrosis of the femoral head seen in Toy and Miniature Poodles. Causes degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. Usually presents unilaterally. Reported 22.4x odds ratio in Toy Poodles, and 12.1x odds ratio in Miniature Poodles for Legg-Calve-Perthes versus other breeds. OFA reports 1.0% affected.
von Willebrand's Disease Type 1 (vWD): Autosomal recessive genetic disorder causing a mild bleeding syndrome. A direct genetic test is available from VetGen, reporting 1% affected, and 9% carrier in the breed.
Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's disease): Controlled by a major autosomal recessive gene, but not a simple recessive disorder. Immune mediated destruction of the adrenal gland seen in Standard Poodles. Typical presentation of lethargy, poor appetite, vomiting, weakness, and dehydration occuring from 4 months to several years of age. Can also present with painful muscle cramping. Treatment with DOCA injections or oral fludrocortisone. Heritabililty of 0.75 in the breed. No genetic test is available.
Neonatal Encephalopathy: Rare, autosomal recessive disorder causing poor growth, ataxia, whole body tremor, and tonic-clonic seizures between 1-5 weeks of age. A genetic test is available.
Mucopolysaccharidosis VI (MPS VI): PennGen reports MPS VI identified in the Miniature and Toy Poodle. This is an autosomal recessive disorder causing skeletal deformities, including defects in the sternum, vertebrae and particularly the hip joints. To varying degrees they may also experience corneal cloudiness and facial dysmorphia. A genetic test is available.
Gastric Dilation/Volvulus (GDV, Bloat): Life-threatening twisting of the stomach within the abdomen. Requires immediate veterinary attention. There is a 25.3% lifetime risk of developing GDV in Standard Poodles, with 6.3% of all Standard Poodles dying from the condition.
Epiphora: Ocular tear drainage with hair staining is reportedly a common occurrence in Toy Poodles. Can occur secondary to medial canthal trichiasis and/or entropion. Treat by keeping hair clipped short, and daily cleaning. Medial canthoplasty is curative in severe cases.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 11.72% of Toy Poodles, 9.08% of Miniature Poodles, and 1.04% of Standard Poodles CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cataracts: Cortical and nuclear cataracts predominate in the breed. Reported at a frequency of 10.79% in Miniature Poodles, 10.21% in Toy Poodles, and 7.00% in Standard Poodles. Reported at a frequency of 13.8% in Toy Poodles in Brazil. Dorn reports a 3.10x odds ratio in Standard Poodles versus other breeds. One study showed a 6.1x odds ratio for Toy Poodles, and a 4.3x odds ratio for Miniature Poodles versus other breeds. Mean age at onset of 9.6 years in Miniature and Toy Pooodles. Identified in 3.95% of Toy Poodles, 3.63% of Standard Poodles, and 2.82% of Miniature Poodles CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Poodle with a cataract.
Periodontal Disease: Miniature and Toy Poodles are found to be predisposed to periodontal disease and tooth loss.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 5.54% of Miniature Poodles, 4.12% of Toy Poodles, and 2.08% of Standard Poodles CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Bronchiectasis: Clinical signs of chronic cough with excessive airway mucous. Diagnosis with radiographs. Reported at a frequency of 5.2% and an odds ratio of 2.99x in the Miniature Poodle, and a frequency of 2.4% and an odds ratio of 1.83x in the Toy Poodle versus other breeds. Treatment is with bronchodilators and possibly corticosteroids.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 4.2% positive for thyroid autoantibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5).
Otitis Externa (Chronic Ear Infection): Bacterial, yeast, or mixed infections. Miniature Poodles are one of the breeds with the highest incidence. In one study, 39.29% of dogs with Malassezia (yeast) ear infection were Poodles.
Tracheal Collapse: Seen in Toy and Miniature Poodles. Causes persistent "honking" cough, especially when excited. Dorn reports a 5.92x odds ratio for tracheal collapse versus other breeds. Usually occurs in middle-aged to older dogs. Usually poorly responsive to surgery. Many cases can be controlled medically.
Mitral Valve Disease (MVD): Elderly Miniature and Toy Poodles are prone to mitral valvular regurgitation, at an average age of 9.
years. Can lead to congestive heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) and cardiac failure. Treat with heart drugs.
Cryptorchidism (Retained Testicles): Can be unilateral or bilateral. Reported at an increased frequency in all three varieties of Poodle; with a significant risk in Toy Poodles, moderate risk in Miniature Poodles, and increased risk in Standard Poodles versus other breeds.
Atrial Septal Defect (ASD): Limited echocardiographic screening of Standard Poodles show approximately 5% affected with an ostium secundum atrial septal defect. Some families have up to 40% of dogs affected. If small, an ASD may not produce clinical disease. Medium to large ASD have hemodynamically significant left to right shunting resulting in right atrial and ventricular enlargement and clinical signs of heart failure. Screen with Doppler echocardiography. Undetermined mode of inheritance.
Sebaceous Adenitis: Disorder of immune mediated sebaceous gland destruction, presenting with hair loss, hyperkeratosis and seborrhoea, usually beginning with the dorsal midline and ears. Diagnosis by skin biopsy. Treat with isotretinoin. An autosomal recessive mode of inheritance is suspected. Poodles are reported at a frequency of 0.9% in Sweden. OFA reports 2.8% affected.
Idiopathic Epilepsy: Inherited Seizures can be generalized or partial seizures. In a study of one family, 93% had focal-onset seizures with a median age of onset of 3.7 years, an equal sex ratio, and a possible simple autosomal mode of inheritance. In Standard Poodles, 17.1% start as generalized seizures, and 68.3% begin as partial seizures (with the rest mixed) at a mean age of 2.8 years. 81% of affected Standard Poodles progress to generalized seizures. Control with anticonvulsant medications.
Diabetes Mellitus: Caused by a lack of insulin production by the pancreas. Controlled by insulin injections, diet, and glucose monitoring. Miniature Poodles have an odds ratio of 4.01x, and Toy Poodles have an odds ratio of 3.27x versus other breeds.
Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease): Hyperfunction of the adrenal gland caused by a pituitary or adrenal tumor. Clinical signs may include increased thirst and urination, symmetrical truncal alopecia, and abdominal distention. Reported at an increased frequency in Poodles, representing 38.14% of all cases. Dorn reports a 2.72x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Secondary Glaucoma: Increased intraocular pressure and blindness can occur after cataract formation, lens luxation (predominantly Miniature Poodles), hyphema (predominantly Toy Poodles), or uveitis (predominantly Standard Poodles). One report found an odds ratio of 4.7x for secondary glaucoma in Poodles.
Vitreous Degeneration: A liquefaction of the vitreous gel which may predispose to retinal detachment and/or glaucoma. Identified in 1.85% of Toy Poodles CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Primary (Narrow Angle) Glaucoma: Ocular condition causing increased pressure within the eyeball, and secondary blindness due to damage to the retina. Diagnose with tonometry and gonioscopy. Diagnosed in 1.68% of Miniature Poodles, 1.20% of Toy Poodles, and 0.73% of Standard Poodles presented to veterinary teaching hospitals. CERF does not recommend breeding any Poodle with glaucoma.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA): Polygenically inherited congenital heart disorder; affected dogs are usually stunted, and have a loud heart murmur. Diagnosis is via Doppler ultrasound. Treatment is surgical. Miniature and Toy Poodles have an increased incidence versus other breeds.
Calcium Oxalate Urolithiasis: Miniature and Toy Poodles have a predisposition to develop calcium oxalate bladder stones, with a 3.85x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Lens Induced Uveitis: Occurs secondary to cataract formation. 35% of all cases are in Toy and Miniature Poodles, with a mean age of 9.0 years. One-third of cases are bilateral. Can progress to glaucoma.
Juvenile Renal Disease: Young Standard Poodles can develop a progressive renal dysfunction. Typically presents with increased drinking and urination, weight loss or unthriftiness, consistently dilute urine, and elevated kidney blood tests. Late in the disease, affected dogs can leak urinary protein, have non-regenerative anemia, and fibrous osteodystrophy. Onset from weeks of age to over a year in age. Some dogs remain with mild signs, while others rapidly progress to kidney failure. Unknown mode of inheritance. Diagnosis by kidney biopsy or pathology.
Mammary Gland Osteosarcoma: Female Miniature Poodles have predisposition to develop this malignant cancer, with an odds ratio of 2.7x versus other breeds.
Alopecia-X/ Hyperadrenocorticism Associated with Sex Steroid Excess (Black Skin Disease, BSD, Coat Funk, Severe Hair Loss, SHL): Miniature Poodles are overrepresented. Progressive, symmetrical, non-pruritic, truncal hair loss usually beginning in early adulthood. ACTH stimulation test, low-dose dexamethazone suppression test, and thyroid panel results are normal. Alkaline phosphatase and ALT are elevated. Urinary corticoid:creatinine ratio may be normal to elevated. Elevated blood concentrations of 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) have been seen post ACTH stimulation. Oral trilostane reverses the condition in some cases. The disorder appears familial, with a male predilection.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Can present with ventricular arrhythmias, leading to cardiac dilation and heart failure. Increased incidence reported in Standard Poodles. There is a two to one ratio of affected males to females.
Perineal Hernia: Miniature Poodles have a predisposition to developing perineal hernias. Treatment is surgery.
Optic Nerve Hypoplasia/Micropapilla: Failure of development of the optic nerve. Identified in 0.90% of Miniature Poodles CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Poodle with the condition.
Digital Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): Subungual squamous cell carcinoma occurs at increased frequency in black dogs. Treat with digital amputation. Standard Poodles account for 14.3% of all cases.
Shoulder Instability: In a one study, the most frequent breed was Standard Poodles, representing 13% of all cases. Clinical signs included pain and muscle atrophy. Surgerical stabilization provided the best outcome.
Lingual Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): Poodles have a 4.61x odds ratio versus other breeds of developing this cancer. Females are overrepresented in one study.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): Identified as a rare disorder in Standard Poodles, though Miniature Poodles have also been pathologically diagnosed. Affected dogs show an insidious onset of upper motor neuron (UMN) paraparesis at an average age of 11.4 years. The disease eventually progresses to severe tetraparesis. Affected dogs have normal results on myelography, MRI, and CSF analysis. Necropsy confirms the condition. Unknown mode of inheritance. A direct genetic test for an autosomal recessive DM susceptibility gene is available from OFA showing 17% carrier and 1% homozygous genes "at risk" in Poodles. All affected dogs are homozygous for the gene, however, only a small percentage of homozygous dogs develop DM.
Atresia Ani (Imperforate Anus): An increased incidence of this congenital condition is reported in Miniature and Toy Poodles, with a frequency of 0.02%, and an odds ratio of 4.28x. Treatment is surgery.
Polymicrogyria: Affected Standard Poodles present between 7 weeks and 4 months of age with clinical signs that can include blindness, behavior changes, hypermetric gait, complex partial motor seizures, delayed proprioceptive hopping, and resting nystagmus. (1/5), and decreased pupillary light response. Some dogs also demonstrated progressive aggression toward the owner. EEG readings were abnormal. Imaging, and gross and histological examination revealed polymicrogyria that variously involved the occipital, temporal, or entire cerebral lobes of the brain. Undetermined mode of inheritance.
Allergic Inhalant Dermatitis, Anterior Crossbite, Base-Narrow Canines, Brachygnathism, Cerebellar Abiotrophy, Ceroid Lipofuscinosis, Corneal Dystrophy, Cystinuria, Deafness, Entropion, Factor VIII Deficiency, Factor XII Deficiency, Fibrinoid Leukodystrophy, Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy, Growth Hormone Responsive Dermatosis, Hemeralopia, Hydrocephalus, Ichthyosis, Intervertebral Disc Disease, Keratoconjunctivits Sicca, Lafora Body Disease, Leukodystrophy Lymphedemamacrocytosis/ Dyshematopoiesis, Methemaglobin Reductase Deficiency, Microphthalmia, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Narcolepsy, Nodular Panniculitis, Oligodontia, Pancreatitis, Prognathism, Prolapsed Nictitans, Proliferative Episcleritis, Prekallikrein Deficiency, Pseudohermaphrodism, Retinal Dysplasia, Shoulder Osteochondritis Dessicans, Sphingomyelinosis, Tetralogy of Fallot, Vertebral Stenosis, and Wry Mouth are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Chronic Hepatitis: Three related Standard Poodles with chronic liver disease were pathologically diagnosed with lobular dissecting hepatitis.
Nonspherocytic Hemolytic Anemia: A family of Miniature Poodles developed nonspherocytic hemolytic anemia, marked reticulocytosis, hepatosplenomegaly, hemosiderosis of reticuloendothelial organs, bone marrow myelofibrosis, and osteosclerosis by 1 year of age. The disease was fatal by 3 years of age. A pathogenesis was not determined.
Congenital Ectodermal Defect: X-linked recessive disorder reported in male Miniature Poodle siblings. Affected dogs are born without hair (hypotrichosis), have a reduced number or absence of sweat glands, and missing or malformed teeth.
Amelogenesis Imperfecta/Familial Enamel Defect: A multi-generational family of Standard Poodles in Sweden was identified with discolored teeth due to enamel malformation. Defective enamel mineralization was documented histologically.
Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa: A newborn Toy Poodle developed vesicles and bullae on the pads of the feet, oral mucous membranes, and skin if the ventral abdomen. The lesions progressed rapidly, and the pup was euthanized on day 2.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for pcrd-PRA is available from Optigen.
Direct test for von Willebrand's disease (vWD) is available from VetGen
Direct test for neonatal encephalopathy is available from the OFA.
A direct test for an autosomal recessive DM susceptibility gene is available from the OFA.
Direct test for MPS is available from PennGen.
Direct tests for black, brown, cream, white, red, and apricot coat colors, and black and brown nose are available from HealthGene and VetGen.
Tests of Phenotype: Miniature Poodles: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes hip radiographs, CERF eye examination, direct test for prcd-PRA, and patella evaluation. (See CHIC website; caninehealthinfo.org).
Recommend thyroid profile including autoantibodies, elbow radiographs, and cardiac evaluation.
Standard Poodles: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes hip radiographs, CERF eye examination, and one of the following: thyroid profile including autoantibodies, biopsy for sebaceous adenitis, or cardiac evaluation including echocardiogram. (See CHIC website; caninehealthinfo.org).
Recommend elbow radiographs and patella evaluation.
Toy Poodles: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes CERF eye examination, patella evaluation, and direct test for prcd-PRA. (See CHIC website; caninehealthinfo.org).
Recommend hip and elbow radiographs, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, and cardiac evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: Pudel, Toy Poodle, Caniche, Chien Canne, Standard Poodle. Barbone, French duck dog, French Poodle, Toy Poodle, Miniature Poodle.
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC(Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 9 (21,545 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: The Poodle Club of America: poodleclubofamerica.org
Poodle Club of Canada: poodleclubcanada.com
The Standard Poodle Club (UK): standardpoodleclub.com
The Miniature Poodle Club (UK): miniaturepoodleclub.org.uk
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