beautiful black poodle on grey background
Dog Profiles

Are Poodles Smart Dogs?

One of the most common questions I hear is “Are poodles smart dogs?”  In my experience with two toy poodles that were family members, I believe I know the answer.  No only are poodles very intelligent, they are also mind readers.

Poodles are one of the smartest dog breeds. They are easy to train and so do very well in agility competition where their intelligence is a definite advantage. The only dog breed that may be as smart as the poodle is the Border Collie.

Poodles Come In Different Sizes

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes 3 different sizes of Poodles: toy, miniature, and standard. They are the same breed, the difference being how tall they are. The smallest or toy poodle is 10 inches or under at the shoulder; the miniature poodle is between 10 to 15 inches; and the standard poodle is over 15 inches tall.

All three size poodles have the same body proportions. If you enlarge a photo of a toy poodle, you will have a photo of either a miniature or standard poodle. The breed standards for dog shows are also the same. You can review the AKC breeds standards HERE.

The toy poodle can weighs as little as 4 pounds, while the standard poodle can tip the scales at an impressive 70 pounds!

Not only do Poodles come in different sizes, they also come in many colors.  Either black or white seems to be the most common color, but they also can be brown, blue, gray, silver, cafe au lait, silver beige, cream, apricot, and red just to name several.  They can even be multi-colored but the AKC will only allow Poodles with solid color coats to compete in conformation contests.

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Here is the AKC take on the three Poodles:

Toy

Agile, Intelligent, Self-Confident
AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 7 of 196
Height: No more than 10 inches
Weight: 4-6 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-18 years

Miniature

Active, Proud, Very Smart
AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 7 of 196
Height: 10-15 inches
Weight: 10-15 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-18 years

Standard

Active, Proud, Very Smart
AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 7 of 196
Height: Over 15 inches (standard)
Weight: 60-70 pounds (male), 40-50 pounds (female)
Life Expectancy: 10-18 years

Are Poodles Good Family Dogs

Poodles age great family pets.  The smaller poodles may be a little high strung and not as tolerant with children are the larger or standard size poodle.   Due to its small size, the toy poodle can become frightened if cornered and may act out.  So if you have toddlers, the toy poodle may not be a good choice until the kids grow up and respect the dogs sensibilities.

The standard poodle is kind, gentle and very good with children.  Even so, kids should be taught to treat pets with kindness and not pull on the dog’s fur or ears.  No dog likes that but some breeds are more tolerant than others.

Poodles are an affectionate dog and tend to love everyone in the family.  They are not usually a one person dog.  There are exceptions, however, and one of my miniature poodles definitely preferred women.  Can’t say I really blamed her for that!

Because they are intelligent, poodles are relatively easy to housetrain.  They are also  hypoallergenic  which makes them a better choice if someone in the family is allergic to dogs.   Every dog breed poses a risk to anyone who is allergic to dog dander.

 Are Poodles Good Watchdogs?

Poodles are good at alerting when they hear something, and they will sound off when someone is at the front door.  They are not aggressive, usually, so can not be relied on as guard dogs.  Some poodles can be trained to be more aggressive and may be trained as guard dogs but this is not a common practice.

Sometimes Poodles have a rather sophisticated hairdo which makes them look, some would say, like sissy dogs.  But don’t be fooled by those looks!  Underneath, they are real dogs and great athletes and can hold their own with any breed.

If you need a guard dog, the poodle is probably not your best choice.  They are several other breeds that are good family pets as well as protectors.  Those include the German Shepherd, which is also a very intelligent dog and popular dog breed.

Are Poodles Good With Other Pets

Poodles are generally not aggressive toward other dogs or animals.  They are peaceful and accepting of other dogs as long as they are properly socialized.  Proper training will take time and patience.

Generally, poodles behave well with cats.  Growing up with a cat will probably result in your poodle believing the cat deserves the same respect that other family members do.  Also, the cat may be the trouble maker and not the dog!

Can Poodles Be Left Alone?

Most poodles can be left alone for several hours once they are adults.  Younger dogs can not hold their business as long, so you may to use training pads or a crate for them if you don’t want to clean up doggy messes in the living room.

No dog really likes being left alone.  Toy poodles are probably more prone to separation anxiety than the bigger poodles.  The toys tend to become more dependent on their owners, and may have “accidents” in the house when they are left alone too long.

Dog separation anxiety is a common problem for dogs because they are social animals and get stressed when left alone for long periods.  Dogs suffering from separation anxiety may become destructive or try to escape.  Because the Poodle is so smart, you should make sure it is secure and can not find a way out.

The ASCPA has an extensive article on the causes, symptoms and treatment of dog separation anxiety.  For more information and guidance if your dog needs help, visit their website.

 

Where Do Poodles Come From

They are frequently called “French Poodles” so they must come from France, right? Well, maybe not.  They may not have start out in France. Would you believe they began as duck hunters in Germany!  Not so fast, the French may argue.  The exact origin of the Poodle is still debated with some claiming it came from a German Water dog and others suggesting it came from the French Barbet, which also is a water dog.

The Poodle hunting instinct has largely been bred out of the dog, but they still can hunt, track, and retrieve from the water.
 

Should I Get A Poodle

The short answer is yes. The Poodle is smart, affectionate, loyal and a great companion. They love kids, at least the larger poodles do, and will  get along with other family pets.  The Poodle came to the United States in the 1800s and for many years was the country’s most popular breed.  It still ranks consistently in the top 10 favorite breeds and I see no reason for that popularity to decline.

With the wide range of colors and sizes that the Poodles come in, you will surely find one that fills your doggy needs!  And remember, the Poodle is a very smart dog.