Are Standard Poodles Good Family Dogs?

family with standard poodle

Last updated on October 14th, 2020 at 08:41 pm


What are you looking for in the perfect family dog? Do you want a dog who is smart, trainable, sensitive, great with kids, and won`t leave a mess of hair or slobber all over your home? The Standard Poodle is the breed for us for these reasons and more, and it might be the breed for you too. 

This versatile, athletic dog is far from the froofroo reputation that they too often unfairly hold. In fact, this is a robust working and family dog renowned for success in water retrieval, service dog work, and of course, as fantastic family pets. 

our poodle in our home
Our gorgeous poodle, Sansa

Standard Poodle History

One of the best clues to a breed`s fitness as a family dog is what they were bred to do. Dogs who were bred to live closely with a family are often a better fit for family life. Poodles were always family dogs, along with many other roles. They have some traits that make them excellent family pets:

Retriever That Needed Obedience and Self-Control

Standard Poodles were developed as water retrievers who lived at home with the hunter. They needed the self-control to stay close to the hunter and retrieve game unharmed. This obedience and self-control also comes in handy in how the Standard Poodle conducts themselves at home with children. 

Water Dog With a Low-Shed Coat

The tight, shed-free coat was developed to protect the Poodle from cold water. The haircut that most of us associate with Standard Poodles was designed for function.

The shaved legs and neck offered freedom of movement, while the thick hair was left to protect the hips and chest. Joints were protected with rounded tufts called pompoms. Today, most families choose to keep their Poodles in a shorter, easier to maintain clip. 

Intelligence and Trainability for Versatile Roles

As the Poodle`s history progressed, their intelligence continued to serve them in new roles, although they remain highly effective water retrievers to this day. In fact, they are the only dog classified as a non-sporting breed that can compete in AKC Retriever Hunting Tests. However, a beautiful, trainable, low-shed dog like the Poodle was destined to do more than retrieve.

Poodles became popular with luxury nobles throughout France and Europe. The dogs were so popular that they were bred down into two additional sizes to accommodate the needs of any family. Both smaller versions are perfect miniature versions of the full-size Standard Poodle. 

The toy and miniature versions became popular in their own right, but in no way did they diminish the ongoing popularity of the Standard. Standard Poodles were favorites as circus dogs, and soon became a beloved city companion. Their intelligence and trainability prepared them well for these new roles. 

The Standard Poodle has continued to evolve as well as maintaining its previous positions. These dogs are a first choice of many families for therapy and service dogs and thrive in competitive agility, obedience, and more. 

our poodle in our backyard

Is the Standard Poodle Right for Your Family?

The Standard Poodle is an amazing family dog, but that doesn`t mean that the breed is right for every family. Here are a few characteristics of these dogs and the pros and cons that your family may find with them. 

Big

The Standard Poodle is a fairly big dog. Females weigh between 40 and 50 pounds while males weigh between 60 and 70 pounds. They`re a tall breed, standing over 15 inches at the shoulder and often even higher. Poodles are light on their feet and graceful. They often don`t seem to take up space in a house the way another breed the same size might. 

However, a dog this size isn`t right for everyone. Children who are nervous around dogs or sensitive about their space may find the tall Poodle intimidating, especially if the Poodle isn`t sufficiently exercised and is rambunctious inside. However, children who are engaged with the family dog will find the Poodle to be a delightful companion. Poodles are sensitive enough to control their size extremely well, especially with deliberate training. Their self-control means that a child can easily walk a well-trained Poodle by themselves, despite the size. 

Energetic

Poodles were bred to be retrievers, and like most retrievers, they are energetic, work-driven dogs. Given direction, the Poodle is able to divert their plentiful energy into pretty much anything you want to train them to do. These dogs are not nearly as energetic as some other breeds, including other breeds with retrieving roles, but they are not for the couch potato family. 

What the high energy involved when my poodle was playing with another poodle.

If your family loves being outdoors, active and involved with the family dog, a Standard Poodle may be ideal for you. However, if you have to pester the kids to go outside and would rather settle in for a good TV show than go for a walk every day, the Poodle might be too energetic for your family. A Poodle that doesn`t get sufficient exercise, engagement, and training, may become hyper and get into trouble. 

energetic poodle

No-Shed Coat

The Poodle`s gorgeous, lush, curly coat is a defining characteristic of the breed and one of the primary reasons that so many people are drawn to this dog. The coat comes in a number of lovely colors, each of which fits into some shade of white, grey, black, or red. Breeders often offer these dogs in parti colors, which means patches of colors and white, but only solid colors are currently standard. The curly, lush coat can be shaped as desired or kept clipped very close to the dog`s skin for a super low-maintenance effect. 

While a well-groomed Poodle is practically shed-free, gorgeous, and delightful to pet, all of that grooming takes either money or work. Families aiming for a low-maintenance coat can clip it very close to the skin, but this will need to be done monthly at a minimum, with brushing in between to keep mats from forming. 

For families looking for an unusual low-maintenance technique that keeps their dogs warm, cording is a great option recognized by the AKC as an acceptable way to maintain the coat. In this technique, the hair is twisted together into cords. If you`ve ever wondered how the average hunter maintained the Continental cut, cording is your answer. To maintain, you`ll just need to wash your Poodle twice a month, and spend some spare time pulling cords apart all the way to the skin. After a year of this process, you`ll have an incredibly low-maintenance coat. 

Even if you choose a very low-maintenance coat like clipping short or cording, you`ll put a few hours of work every month into maintaining your dog`s coat. The consequences of slacking on this responsibility means pain and discomfort for your dog, or mildew and odor in the coat. Paying to have your Standard Poodle groomed might be a considerable monthly expense since this is such a large dog. If you want to maintain the coat in a longer cut, you`ll need to devote time to brushing every day. 

Sensitive

Poodles are outgoing, people-loving dogs when properly socialized, and they are typically friendly and people-oriented. It is extremely unusual to meet a Poodle with strong home protective drives or aggressive drives. They have a deep sensitivity with their families and even with new people. This trait often makes them ideal service and therapy dogs. Your Poodle may well be able to sense your family`s moods in a way that almost seems magical. 

However, the Poodle`s sensitivity can be a downside in some families. Families that are often very loud and rambunctious can sometimes overwhelm some Poodles. Instability and people coming and going often may cause anxiety. Poodles do best when they can bond closely with their family group and have stability in the home.

 

How to Raise Your Standard Poodle

Raising your Poodle well is essential to a well-balanced, confident, self-controlled family pet. Poodles are quick to look to their people for direction and are eager to learn. However, training and socialization are not optional for this whip-smart breed. Here are some tips to raising the best Standard Poodle that you can:

  • Socialize often and control socialization. Without regular socialization, your Poodle won`t be confident with new people and dogs. However, these sensitive dogs can be very stressed by negative interactions. Therefore, give your Poodle plenty of socialization, but make sure they don`t get overwhelmed. 
  • Groom from the beginning. Too many Poodle owners wait until their dogs are a few months old before introducing grooming. By this time, the coat may already be matted, and the dog resistant to grooming. Introduce grooming with lots of positive reinforcement from the time your puppy is small. 
  • Build confidence. More Poodles have too little confidence than too much. Work actively to encourage confidence in your dog from the time that they are very young and be careful to protect your Poodle from potentially traumatizing experiences. 

The Standard Poodle: an Amazing Family Dog

If you`re looking for a large-breed dog for your family, it`s pretty hard to beat the Standard Poodle. Standard poodles are sensitive, intelligent, low-shed, and endlessly charming: the whole package for many families. As long as your family is active enough for this energetic breed and you don`t mind the hair upkeep, you`ll adore the Standard Poodle as your family dog.