Standard Poodle Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Standard Poodle Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014
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 into shorthaired, normal -looking dogs who are a snap to brush. Poodles also have the advantage of being the lightest-shedding, most hypoallergenic of all coated breeds.
Second, Standard Poodles are elegant, energetic athletes who move with a light, springy gait. 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.
Even better, a good Standard 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, Standard Poodles NEED some sort of mental stimulation in order to be happy -- advanced obedience classes (not just basic), agility classes, or 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 Standard Poodles make great watchdogs and some even have mild (and sensible) protective instincts, but this is not an aggressive breed. Their attitude toward people varies from friendly to politely reserved. Early socialization is important to avoid excessive watchfulness or timidity.
With other dogs and cats, Standard Poodles are usually peaceful and accepting.
However, this breed is by no means perfect or low-maintenance. Besides the regular clipping (every 4-6 weeks), they need a good deal of daily exercise. Their energy level varies from moderate to high and they require brisk walks, jogging, swimming, and/or vigorous play sessions to keep them fit, satisfied, and calm indoors.
Standard Poodles also need a lot of daily companionship. They suffer from loneliness and separation anxiety if left alone too much.
Most Standard 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, Standard 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 Standard Poodle lines are high-strung, nervous, even neurotic.
If you want a dog who...
- Is medium to large, combining sturdiness and athleticism with elegance and grace
- 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 Standard Poodle may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- A careful search to avoid the high-strung lines
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Exuberant jumping, romping, and bounding about, especially when young
- Skittishness in some lines, or when not socialized enough
- Emotional sensitivity to stress, tension, and loud voices
- Clipping the curly coat every six weeks
- Serious health issues
A Standard 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 Standard Poodle
If I was considering a Standard Poodle, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Standard Poodles MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing. Bored Standard Poodles can make a shambles of your house and yard.
If you simply want a casual pet and don't have the time or inclination to take your dog running or swimming, or to play extended retrieving games, or to get involved in agility (obstacle course), or advanced obedience, or tracking, or some similar canine activity, I do not recommend this breed. They must have productive outlets for their energy and intelligence.
- Bounciness. Young Standard Poodles (up to about two years old) romp and jump with great vigor, and things can go flying, including people.
- Providing enough socialization. Standard Poodles need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become skittishness or suspiciousness, which are difficult to live with.
- Emotional sensitivity. Be honest...is there tension in your home? Are people loud or angry or emotional? Are there arguments or fights? 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. Poodles are peaceful, sensitive dogs who need a peaceful, harmonious home.
- Grooming. To keep their curly coat short and free of mats, Standard Poodles require clipping every 4 to 6 weeks. You can ignore the ridiculous show ring clips and trim your Standard Poodle short, with short ears, a rustic whiskery face, and no pompoms on their head or feet or tail. Poodles don't have to look like frou-frou dogs.
- Barking. Standard Poodles are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them.
- Serious health problems. Inbreeding is extremely high in Standard Poodles, which has led to a host of health problems becoming embedded in the gene pool. Standards are at risk for eye diseases, skin diseases, digestive diseases, immune system diseases, seizures, and more.
To learn more about training Standard Poodles to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Standard 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 Standard 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 Standard Poodle might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Standard 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 Standard Poodle...
When you're acquiring a Standard 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 Standard 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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