Before you bring home that fuzzy little bundle of joy, you’re going to want to know everything there is to know about taking care of your new poodle. And there’s a lot to know! For such a tiny little thing, it sure requires a lot of care. From grooming, to vet care, to diet and exercise we are here to give you tips on caring for your new little companion.
One of the first things to know about owning a poodle is that they require a lot of grooming. It is crucial to get your puppy in to a groomer early and often. Take your puppy to the groomer even in between grooms for a touch up. Even though grooming is expensive, this will save you money in the long run. When your puppy is young, the more exposure to grooming he has, the better. If you do not expose your puppy to enough grooming when she is young, she might end up becoming a difficult dog to groom, and most groomers and pet stylists will charge extra for dogs that nip at them or otherwise make it difficult to groom them. Not to mention, if your dog ends up biting a groomer, many groomers will not take them back as a client. When you first buy your poodle puppy, you will want to make sure that you have money set aside to groom early and often so that your puppy becomes very comfortable on the grooming table. This will make your life (and your puppy’s life, for that matter) much easier in the years to come. A lot of breeders will even start exposing puppies to grooming early on by getting them used to the sound of a blow dryer, bathing them often, and shaving their feet and snouts before they go to their new homes.
Poodle Nail Care
You will want to keep your poodle’s nails trimmed. You can get a nail clipper and do this by yourself, but it is easy to clip them too short. This can startling because there can be a lot of blood when you accidentally cut a nail too short. If you do make this mistake, don’t worry. The nail will heal quickly, and even the most practiced groomers will occasionally clip a nail too short. You can put pressure on the bleeding nail to stop the bleeding. Some groomers will use corn starch to stop the bleeding until it clots and begins to heal. If you would rather not deal with clipping your poodle’s nails, you can purchase an electric nail file or simply schedule grooms regularly enough that the groomer will keep your dog’s nails trimmed. A groomer can clip or file your dog’s nails. Usually, clipping nails is sufficient. However, if you have wood floors, you may want to opt for having your dog’s nails filed instead of clipped since freshly clipped nails could scratch up your flooring.
Poodle Teeth Care
You should plan on having your groomer clean your poodle’s teeth at every groom, and you should plan to brush your poodle’s teeth daily. That seems excessive to some owners, but it actually can make a difference. Start when they are puppies and continue throughout their lives. No matter how old or young they are, dogs need their teeth cleaned the same as humans. Professional groomers suggest brushing your dog’s teeth daily as well as having a deep cleaning procedure at the vet. You’ll want to schedule a deep cleaning at the vet as well. Talk to your vet about your specific dog’s needs, and he or she will tell you when to schedule these cleanings. Your poodle will have to go under anesthesia for these cleanings, so you do want to make sure that they are full grown. Many owners decide to have their dog’s teeth cleaned when they get spayed or neutered since they will already be under anesthesia. This is usually when a dog is one or two years old, so you will want to have your vet continue to check your dog’s teeth at his check-ups so you know when to schedule another deep cleaning.
Poodle Eye Care
Since poodle’s have long hair and eyelashes, it’s important to keep your poodle’s fur trimmed neatly around the eyes to prevent eye infections. If your poodle is extremely well behaved during grooming, you may be able to clip this hair yourself. If your poodle gets a little bit anxious during grooming, you will want to leave this up to a professional as working with scissors or clippers near your dog’s eyes could result in injury.
Whether or not you worry about eye stains probably depends on the color of your new poodle. Eye stains are typical in the poodle breed, and they tend to be more prominent among the smaller poodles. If you have a dark colored poodle, you probably won’t even notice them. But if you have a white or cream poodle, you will probably notice the eye stains pretty early on. Some owners don’t worry about the eye stains, since they are not harmful. Others don’t like how they look so they will try to treat them one of three ways.
How to Prevent Eye Stains in Poodles
- Supplements: There are some supplements on the market that claim to reduce eye stains.
- Topical Treatment: One of the simplest ways to treat eye stains, or to get rid of the discoloration from eye drainage is to put a topical cream on the fur. There are many on the market that will not hurt your dog’s eyes but claim to lighten the stains. It’s kind of like using a doggy-safe stain remover on your dog’s fur.
- Frequent Grooming: If you don’t want to deal with removing the stains from your puppy’s fur, you could just continue to clip the hair around the eyes so that you’re removing the stained fur in between grooms.
- Dye-Free Diet: Make sure that there are no dyes in your poodle’s dog food as artificial colors could contribute to eye
Poodle Ear Care
It’s very common for poodle’s to experience ear infections. Their hair is meant to keep out moisture, but it can also trap moisture in. When a poodle’s ears get wet, the hair can trap the moisture inside the ear canal and cause an infection. To prevent ear infections, keep your poodle’s hair trimmed short in the ears. Some groomers used to recommend plucking the hair inside the ear, but most agree that keeping it trimmed short is a better option. It is still a contended issue among breeders, groomers, and owners. Ear infections can be quite painful, so if you notice your poodle shaking his head or wining when you scratch him behind the ears, you’ll want to take him to the vet. If he does have an ear infection, he’ll be prescribed ear drops, which you will administer until the ear infection is gone.
Many owners and groomers recommend rinsing poodle’s ear’s with a mixture of warm water and vinegar to prevent infections and keep ears clean.
You can also purchase a solution for keeping your poodle’s ear’s clean. It is a deodorizing and disinfecting solution. Some owners do want to keep their poodle’s ear’s plucked. If you do choose to pluck the hair out of the ears, this solution can help keep the pores inside the ears from getting infected. If you choose to keep the hair in the ears trimmed short instead of plucked, this solution can still help keep them clean and clear of infection.
You should plan to pluck or trim your dog’s ear hair every other week. You can start this process when your puppy comes home with you at 8 weeks old and keep up the routine throughout their lives. This will help reduce the likelihood of your poodle developing painful ear infections.
Poodle Coat Care
If you plan on taking your poodle to a groomer at least every 8 weeks, you can probably just let your groomer worry about coat care. But many poodle owners want to stretch the budget by doing a little grooming at home in between scheduled grooms. Other owners are ambitious enough to take on grooming on their own. Whatever your plan, it’s important to know how to take care of a poodle’s coat. There are a couple different ways to care for a poodle coat. Some owners like to keep their fur clipped short. This is a pretty straight-forward way to care for a poodle’s coat.
If you plan to keep your poodle’s coat long, you should plan to bathe, dry, and brush your poodle regularly.
Bathing Your Poodle
When you’re bathing your own poodle, it is really important to get your poodle as wet as possible. Spray them backwards going against the fur. A poodle’s fur is designed to keep out water, so you need to make sure that you get them wet down to the skin if you want to get their coat nice and clean. Once your poodle is thoroughly wet, shampoo him immediately. Crazy Dog Shampoo is some of the best shampoo for poodles. If your poodle has sensitive skin, you might want to try Oatmeal and Aloe shampoo. You need to dilute the shampoo in water so that it spreads evenly over the coat of your poodle. Some owners like to use shampoos that are specific to their poodle’s color. There are both whitening and blackening shampoos that can enhance your poodle’s natural coloring. Rinse your poodle until the water runs clear.
You should bathe your poodle at least once a month, beginning as soon as you bring him home around 8-12 weeks and continuing on throughout his life.
During bathing, you might need to express your dog’s anal glands. Some dogs will express them naturally when they relieve themselves. Usually bigger dogs do this on their own, but smaller dogs may need them expressed. Some larger dogs need them expressed as well. The glands are located on either side of the dog’s anus, and pressing them together in a motion moving toward the anus will express them. This can be done by a vet or groomer if you are uncomfortable with this process.
Drying Your Poodle
One of the trickiest parts about grooming your own poodle at home is getting your poodle’s fur completely dry. If you allow your poodle to air dry, their fur is likely to mat very quickly.
If you plan to keep your poodle clipped short, you can just use a regular blow dryer, but if you plan to keep your poodle long and fluffy, you will definitely want to invest in a pet grade dryer because it is more powerful than a regular dryer and can fluff your poodle’s fur so that it is completely dry and so that it doesn’t mat easily.
Thoroughly dry your poodle every time you bathe him.
Brushing Your Poodle
If you plan on doing your own grooming, you will definitely need a good brush to work through your poodle’s thick coat, and stainless steel combs to work out mats. Start with a slicker brush and work through your poodle’s coat starting with the outer coat and working toward the undercoat. When you’re finished with the slicker brush, use the steel comb to make sure there are no mats left under any of the fur. Make sure that you are getting to the skin when you brush. With poodles, it’s easy to brush through the outer coat and think there are no mats when really the entire undercoat is matted. Matts can be painful for your poodle as they pull on their skin, so it’s really important to make sure that you are brushing down to the skin.
Thoroughly brush your poodle’s hair every other day if your poodle has long, fluffy fur.
If you keep your poodle’s fur trimmed short, brush him once a week.
Cording a Poodle
If you are willing to put in the work and time on the front end, cording might be a good option for you. When you cord your poodles hair, you take the mats that begin and form them into cords. This requires you to stop brushing or trimming your poodle’s hair. When you notice mats, separate the mats and shape them into the size you want and form them into the beginnings of cords. Snip the hair nearest the skin so that each cord is full separated and not connected to any other cord. Once the cords are well established, you can use scissors to trim and shape the cords. Corded poodles need to be bathed once per week, and it’s vital to fully dry the cords to avoid skin irritation. You will want to use a pet grade dryer to make sure that each cord is completely dry.
Your poodle will need regular vet care. Hopefully, you will have a healthy poodle who only needs regular checkups and preventative healthcare such as flea and tick prevention. Some poodles will have other health issues come up, and it’s important to have regular vet care for your poodle.
Cost of Poodle Vet Care
Undoubtedly, vet care is the biggest cost to factor into dog ownership. It can be difficult to budget for vet care because you can’t always foresee what health issues your poodle could develop in the future. Some new owners opt for pet health insurance as a way to budget for vet costs and avoid astronomical bills if something serious were to present itself. Other people put aside money on their own every month so that they have a little emergency fund built up specifically for their pet’s vet care. Hopefully, you will never need to use it all in case of an emergency, but at least it will be there if you need it then. You can also draw from this savings to cover routine vet care.
You will want to take your puppy for his first check up as soon as you can after bringing him home. It’s important to establish that you brought home a healthy puppy, and to have all age appropriate vaccinations.
Flea and Tick Prevention
Your first few vet visits will consist of a puppy check up where your vet should check for a heart murmur, look at your puppy’s teeth, and take his temperature. Your puppy will also receive vaccination for parvovirus and distemper. At one of these first visits, your vet should talk with you about how you want to prevent heartworm and ticks. There are a few different options ranging from topical, to oral, to specific types of collars. Your vet can help you decide what is best for your poodle. If you decide to purchase a topical treatment, make sure you weigh your puppy and only administer the amount appropriate for your puppy’s size. The flea and tick treatment is slightly toxic, so it’s important not to administer too much.
Spaying and Neutering
Should you spay or neuter your new poodle or not? This has actually become a more controversial issue in recent years. It used to be that people across the board agreed that spaying and neutering was a good idea for your pet. Now, however, experts know that when your poodle is spayed or neutered at too young of an age, it can cause developmental problems as they grow. Most agree that a puppy should be at least one year of age before being spayed or neutered. Some contend that your puppy should be at least two years old, while others argue that males should never be neutered.
Experts have concluded that females should be spayed if they are not going to produce litters. When a female dog goes through a heat cycle and does not get pregnant, she is at an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Therefore, all female poodles should be spayed between one and two years of age.
Males, on the other hand, may benefit from never being spayed at all. Some claim that an in tact male has a longer life expectancy than a neutered male. The data is not all in on this issue, and experts are still learning.
Most owners of male dogs still choose to neuter at some point if the dog is not a sire in a breeding program. Neutering can reduce unwanted behaviors such as marking territory.
Whether or not you neuter your male poodle depends on whether or not you are using him as a sire in a breeding program. If you are not using him in a breeding program, you can still keep him in tact if you choose, but you will want to make sure that you have a fenced in area for him that he cannot get out of and that you keep him on a leash whenever you are in public with him. You won’t want to deal with an unwanted litter because you were not able to keep tabs on your poodle.
If you have a female, you should definitely plan to have her spayed between the ages of one and two.
Your Poodle`s Diet
Poodles can tend to have more sensitive digestive systems than most breeds, so it’s definitely important to choose your puppy’s diet carefully. You will want to avoid foods with high levels of grain, but you may not want to eliminate grain completely. Talk with your vet about what type of dog food he recommends, and discuss with other poodle owners to find out what foods they have found to work best for poodles. You can find more information about the best food for poodles here.
Exercising Your Poodle
The good news about poodles is that they can be couch potatoes. That doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy exercise, though. They just aren’t the type of dog that will eat your couch if they don’t get walked four times a day, and that’s great news for owners that don’t go for daily walks or jogs. However, poodles can become overweight if they don’t have enough exercise. Overweight poodles are more likely to experience patellar luxation, a painful and serious condition that can require surgery to fix. Keeping your poodle in good health requires some form of exercise throughout the week. If your poodle is spayed or neutered, he or she might gain weight more easily and you should plan to adjust the diet accordingly.
Training Your Poodle
When you bring your new poodle home, whether it is a puppy or adult, you will want to begin the training that will help your poodle become compatible with your lifestyle. You can train your own poodle or hire a professional trainer. Either way, it’s important for your poodle’s safety that he follow simple commands such as “heel” and “stay”. You want to make sure that your poodle listens to you when you call to him. Different trainers have different philosophies about how to train a dog, so you’ll have to decide what approach you want to take with your poodle. Many professional trainers suggest keeping your dog on a leash by your side at all times during the training period. This includes while you are in your home. Having your dog on a leash allows you to control his behavior and give him commands and reward him when he obeys. When you have your dog on a leash by your side, you will notice his every behavior. The consistency of rewarding good behavior and redirecting bad behavior will usually produce good results.
Socializing Your Poodle
Proper socialization in the early weeks of your poodle’s life will affect her personality and temperament, so it’s really important that you purchase a puppy who was properly socialized by the breeder. If you rescue a poodle, you don’t have control over the socialization that took place before you adopted your poodle, but you can still make great strides by socializing your poodle.
The key to proper socialization is to expose your poodle to enough people and other animals that he will become comfortable with them without making him feel overwhelmed.
Poodle owners want to make sure that their poodle’s are comfortable with kids. The best way to do this is to make sure that your dog is exposed to kids, but that the kids he is around are gentle with him. If your poodle is around children that do not know how to treat a dog respectfully, that will do more harm than good, and he may become frightened of children. On the other hand, if your poodle is never exposed to children, he will almost certainly become frightened when he does encounter them. Poodles who have never been exposed to children and then are confronted by them when they are older may end up becoming aggressive out of fear. The last thing any owner wants to deal with is a poodle that has bitten a child. This is why it’s so important to have gentle, respectful children around your poodle when he is a puppy. If you have rescued an adult, you will have to really watch his behavior around children to determine if the situation is safe and slowly introduce him to gentle children in a safe and monitored environment.
Extra Tips Based on Size Toy, Miniature, and Standard
There are three different sizes of poodles recognized by the American Kennel Club. For the most part, poodle care is the same from one size to the next. There are, however, certain things to take into consideration when it comes to the size of your poodle.
Caring For a Toy Poodle
A toy poodle requires extra consideration because of her small size. You’ll want to make sure that she doesn’t get stepped on if she gets underfoot. You will also need to take a toy poodle outside far more often than a standard poodle since toy poodles will not be able to hold their bladders for nearly as long as larger poodles. They will need to be taken outside at least every two hours when they are puppies.
A toy poodle will probably require less exercise than the larger poodles, but that is not necessarily true if you have a toy poodle with a lot of energy. However, a small yard is usually sufficient for a toy poodle.
A toy poodle can tend to have patellar luxation at higher rates than miniature and standard poodles. When your toy poodle is two years old, you can have his elbows x-rayed and sent in to the Orthopedic Animal Foundation for a rating. This will give you an idea about how your poodle’s patellas look and whether or not luxation will be a problem in the future.
Caring For a Miniature Poodle
People love miniature poodles because they are the perfect in-between size, and they actually tend to have fewer health problems than the standard or toy poodles. They are not so small that you need to be careful of them getting underfoot (except perhaps when they are very small puppies) and they are not so big that they need a large area to run.
Unlike toy poodles, they have lower rates of patellar luxation, and unlike standard poodles they do not have high rates of hip dysplasia.
They will need to be taken outside every few hours during house training.
Caring For a Standard Poodle
Standard poodles are the largest of all the poodle sizes, and their size does come with a few extra considerations. Standard poodles suffer from hip dysplasia at higher rates than toy or miniature poodles. When your standard poodle turns two years old, you can have her hips x-rayed and sent in to OFA for a rating so you can determine whether hip dysplasia is likely in her future.
Standard poodles are often the easiest size to house train as they can hold their bladders longer than the toy and miniature sizes.
Standard poodles will usually need more room to run than the smaller poodles. If you don’t have a large yard for them, plan to take them out for walks or to the dog park regularly.
Standard Poodles suffer from bloat at higher rates than the smaller sizes as well. To prevent his condition, some owners will have their stomachs tacked during spay or neuter. Others will make sure that they don’t drink water that is too cold and that they do not have vigorous exercise immediately before or after drinking large amounts of water.
If your poodle tends to drink very quickly, there are certain kinds of bowls designed to slow down how quickly your poodle drinks, thereby reducing the risk of bloat.
Final Thoughts: Giving Your Poodle His Best Life
Using these tips and bits of advice, you can give your poodle companion his best possible life, and possibly even extend his years. Through proper grooming, regular vet care, training, and socialization you can do everything within your power to make sure that your poodle has the longest and happiest life as your companion.