Miniature Poodle Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Miniature Poodle Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
Many people have misconceptions about Poodles -- that they look and act like "sissy" dogs.
That is one of the biggest myths in dogdom.
First, ignore the silly show-ring clips. Poodles can be clipped to look like normal dogs. Look at the Miniature Poodle in the photo -- that's my dog, Buffy. It takes me 15 minutes every 6 weeks to run over her coat with a handheld clipper and turn her into a shorthaired, normal-looking dog who is a snap to brush. (Poodles also have the advantage of being the lightest-shedding, most hypoallergenic of all coated breeds.)
Second, Miniature Poodles are miniature athletes. They excel in advanced obedience competition, where retrieving and jumping skills are required, and in agility (obstacle course) competitions, where they fly over and under and through the obstacles with a strength and grace that is breathtaking to watch.
I do need to mention the two different builds, though. The correct build for the breed is "square", which means their legs are long enough that their height is approximately equal to their length. These Miniature Poodles are both elegant and athletic, moving with a light, springy gait.
Other Miniature Poodles are built lower to the ground, with short legs and a long back -- these dogs have inherited a physical deformity called chondrodysplasia. They don't have the same elegance or agility as square Miniature Poodles and they are more susceptible to disk disease.
But whatever the build, a good Miniature Poodle is one of the smartest and most trainable of all breeds. He is a "thinking" dog who pays rapt attention to his owner, learns quickly, and responds eagerly to positive training methods. Indeed, Miniature Poodles NEED some sort of mental stimulation in order to be happy, even if it's just challenging games such as hide 'n seek, or fetching a variety of named toys. This intelligent breed cannot simply sit in the backyard and be ignored.
Most Miniature Poodles make great watchdogs -- they will bark sharply at the door and they tend to be reserved (though polite and non-aggressive) with strangers. But there are also individuals like my dog Buffy, "who never met a stranger." (She loves everyone.) With other dogs and cats, Miniature Poodles are peaceful and accepting.
However, this breed is by no means perfect. Besides the regular clipping, they do need daily exercise, as they are lively dogs. And they do need a lot of daily companionship. They suffer from loneliness and separation anxiety if left alone too much.
Poodles also learn "patterns" so quickly that they tend to anticipate everything you're going to do next, which can be disconcerting. They expect their routines to always be the same, and they can get flustered if you change things.
Poodles are "soft" and sensitive dogs, sometimes hypersensitive. If you touch them unexpectedly or startle them with a sudden loud sound, they tend to flinch. The most sensitive individuals are not good with small children.
Similarly, Miniature Poodles can get emotionally upset if there's too much activity or conflict or roughhousing in your household -- they prefer peace and harmony.
You do have to watch your lines: some Miniature Poodle lines are too high-strung and nervous, and this is where you'll find those neurotic Poodles that people scoff at. But much also depends on socialization and training -- i.e., when brought out to experience the world and treated like an intelligent, capable fellow, he is likely to live up to these expectations.
If you want a dog who...
- Is conveniently-sized, light and graceful, athletic and agile
- Has a short curly coat that is virtually non-shedding (the best coated breed for allergy sufferers)
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Is lively and playful
- Is one of the brightest and most attentive of all breeds, such a skilled reader of body language and expression, that he often appears telepathic
- Is easy to train and housebreak
- Is usually polite with strangers and sociable with other animals
A Miniature Poodle may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- A careful search to avoid the high-strung lines
- Timidity or skittishness when not socialized enough
- Emotional sensitivity to stress, tension, and loud voices
- Clipping the curly coat every six weeks
A Miniature Poodle may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Miniature Poodle
If I was considering a Miniature Poodle, I would be most concerned about...
- Unstable temperaments. Poodles are a dime a dozen, and most of them are bred and offered for sale by people who don't have the slightest idea of how to breed good-tempered dogs. Obedience instructors and behavioral consultants see lots of Poodles with neurotic behaviors, including snappiness and and hyperactivity. You want to avoid these lines, and instead get one of the many confident and happy Miniature Poodles!
- Providing enough socialization. Miniature Poodles need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become shyness or suspiciousness.
- Emotional sensitivity. Be honest...is there tension in your home? Are people loud or angry or emotional? Are there arguments or fights? Miniature Poodles are extremely sensitive to stress and can end up literally sick to their stomachs, with digestive upsets and neurotic behaviors, if the people in their home are having family problems. Miniature Poodles are peaceful, sensitive dogs who need a peaceful, harmonious home.
- Grooming. To keep their curly coat short and free of mats, Miniature Poodles require clipping every 4 to 6 weeks. You can ignore the ridiculous show ring clips and trim your Miniature Poodle short, with short ears, a rustic whiskery face, and no pompoms on their head or feet or tail. Miniature Poodles don't have to look like frou-frou dogs.
- Barking. Miniature Poodles are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them. For the same reason, Miniature Poodles should never be left outside in your yard, unsupervised.
- Health problems. Miniature Poodles can be very long-lived, but they can also suffer from joint problems, eye diseases, and heart disease.
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Miniature Poodle the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Miniature Poodle puppy. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Miniature Poodle might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Miniature Poodle home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Miniature Poodle...
When you're acquiring a Miniature Poodle PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Miniature Poodles who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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