Toy Poodle Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Toy 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. That's my dog Buffy on the right. She's a Miniature Poodle, but you can do this same clip with a Toy. 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, Toy 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 Toy Poodles are both elegant and athletic, moving with a light, springy gait.
Other Toy 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 Toy Poodles and they are more susceptible to disk disease.
But whatever the build, a good Toy 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, Toy 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 Toy 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, Toy 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, Toy 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 Toy 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.
However, Toy Poodles are not for children. Some Toy Poodles are such gentle souls they are overwhelmed by the roughhousing and mischief of small children, while others simply won't put up with it.
If you want a dog who...
- Is very small, 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 Toy 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 Toy 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 Toy Poodle
If I was considering a Toy Poodle, I would be most concerned about...
- Avoiding neurotic lines. Many people breed Toy Poodles without regard for good temperament. As a result, obedience instructors and behavioral consultants see many Toy Poodles that are high-strung or snippy. Obviously you want to avoid these lines!
- Providing enough socialization. Toy 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? Toy 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, Toy Poodles require clipping every 4 to 6 weeks. You can ignore the ridiculous show ring clips and trim your Toy 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. Toy 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, Toy Poodles should never be left outside in your yard, unsupervised.
- Health problems. Toy 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 Toy 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 Toy 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 Toy Poodle might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Toy 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 Toy Poodle...
When you're acquiring a Toy 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 Toy 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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