Despite his diminutive size, the Toy Poodle stands proudly among dogdom’s true aristocrats. Beneath the curly, low-allergen coat is an elegant athlete and companion for all reasons and seasons. Poodles are eager, athletic, and wickedly smart ‘real dogs’ of remarkable versatility. With an abundance of steady character and intelligence, the Toy Poodle is a “person” and expects to be treated like one. The Poodle is the national dog of France, and the French sure do love their Poodles. There is, however, no such breed as the “French Poodle.” In France, Poodles are known as the Caniche, or “duck dog.” The Poodle’s many fine qualities allowed it to move from the lake to the lap of luxury. The breed’s showy looks and trainability made it a natural entertainer and companion.
The flamboyant Poodle show coat served a practical purpose in the breed’s early years. Hunters wanted their dogs to have free range of movement in the water, but they also wished to protect vital areas of the anatomy from the cold. They shaved the legs, neck, and tail but left the chest, hips, and leg joints coated. The rounded tufts on the legs, hips, and tail tip are called pompons. (Note the spelling: Cheerleaders have pom-poms; Poodles have pompons.)
Most Toy Poodles live long, happy, healthy lives thanks to the efforts of dedicated, responsible breeders who routinely test all breeding stock. As with all breeds, however, some health issues can occur, including hip dysplasia and several eye disorders. Idiopathic epilepsy, sebaceous adenitis, von Willebrand's disease, and immune-mediated disorders are also seen in the breed on occasion. Two orthopedic problems, Legg-Calve-Perthes and luxating patellas, are more likely to occur in Toy and Miniature Poodles than in Standards.
Poodles of any size are very active dogs who require good exercise every day to suit their high energy level. Poodles are eager for all kinds of activity, and they enjoy keeping busy. Swimming is great exercise for them, and most Poodles love to get in the water. Bred as hunting dogs, their impulse is to retrieve, so tossing toys, sticks, or balls for them will exercise both their mind and body. They also thrive on going for jogs or long walks with their human.
Unless you plan to keep your Poodle clipped in a short trim, you will need to learn how to brush how to brush him daily to keep his coat from matting. If you do not brush and comb a full-coated Poodle completely to the skin, the hair will mat near the roots and will have to be shaved off to start all over with new growth. Most pet owners opt to keep the Poodle in a shorter trim. Some owners learn to do this clipping and trimming themselves, while others choose to take their dog to a professional dog groomer every four to six weeks for a bath, grooming, and nail trim. The breed's relatively nonshedding coat makes the breed a good choice for people with allergies.
Toy Poodles are extremely intelligent and are easily trained. They are agile and graceful as well as smart, and they enjoy and excel in a variety of canine sports, including agility, obedience, and tracking. They are excellent water-retrievers and also compete in dock diving and retriever hunt tests. Poodles are very people-oriented, and if your training routines are fun and positive, they are quick to please you. Just be sure that you are being consistent with what you ask.