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Deciding Whether a Poodle Is Right for You

In This Chapter

Poodles are real people pleasers who have keen intelligence and a sense of humor. But take a minute to really think about what owning a Poodle entails. Not every breed is right for every person.
You can choose from more than 300 breeds of dogs worldwide. That means that everyone can discover a breed that matches an individual’s personality. So think about your home, your family, and your finances (among other things), and then think about which breed is best for you.
This chapter helps you to consider what having a Poodle means and whether a Poodle is right for you. If, after careful thought and thorough research, the Poodle seems like the perfect dog for you, chances are he is. (And in that case, head to Chapter Deciding Whether a Poodle Is Right for You for tips on picking the best Poodle out there for you.)

Asking Yourself a Few Important Questions Upfront

You may have had a Poodle when you were growing up, and now you want another dog just like your childhood pal. You may never have owned a Poodle (or any dog for that matter), but you’ve always liked their looks. These things may, or may not, be good reasons to own a Poodle. In the following sections, I give you a few questions to ponder before you take the plunge with Poodle ownership.

Does a Poodle fit in with your lifestyle?


Poodles are people dogs. They need some quality time with their humans. If both you and your spouse work and the kids are always off playing soccer or attending play rehearsals, when does the dog get some attention? Certainly you can leave a Poodle alone for part of the day, but too much time alone, and he’s going to get bored, and maybe destructive.

If you enjoy hiking, jogging, throwing a ball for a dog, playing doggy games, or competing in organized dog events, then a Poodle fits right in. But if your idea of exercise is changing the channel on the television, rethink your breed choice.

Do you have room for a Poodle?

Even a Standard Poodle can be happy in a small apartment, if a lot of exercise is on the daily schedule (and it should be!), but remember, you need to have room in the apartment for your Poodle. Think about whether you have space for a large crate or a plush bed in the living room. Do you even have a living room?
The bigger the dog, the nicer it is to have an entire house. You can generally play games with your dog indoors, such as tag or hide-andseek, and houses have more room for dog beds and crates. If you’re paper training, a house is more likely to have a room that you can close off for training purposes (see Chapter Keeping Your Poodle Clean and Attractive for details).
Many apartments don’t have access to a yard; that means that each and every time your Poodle goes out, you have to go, too. A fenced yard also offers a safe place to throw a ball or run a race with your Poodle. If you live in an apartment, you’ll need to find somewhere else for your Poodle’s daily exercise.

How will a Poodle respond to your children and other pets?

Children and other pets need to be considered before making your final decision. Most Poodles adore children, but if you have younger children, make sure they understand how to handle a dog. No ear or tail pulling allowed. If children are allowed to tease a dog, treat him roughly, or pull his tail or ears, the dog may learn to avoid the children or may even retaliate by biting. Poodles are usually good natured with children, but any dog has limits of tolerance.


Never, ever leave babies unattended with any dog. Babies make high-pitched, squeaky noises that are similar to those of prey animals. They also make sudden, jerky movements — again, like prey animals. These noises and movements can trigger the prey drive in a dog and lead to disaster.

Experienced breeders don’t recommend Toy Poodles for children under age ten, as they’re just too small to romp and play safely with young children. Standards are large and can be boisterous, especially as puppies, so they need very close supervision when interacting with smaller children. A larger Miniature Poodle, at least 13 inches tall and weighing 15 to 20 pounds, is often the best choice for families with children.
Poodles raised with cats are generally fine with them. Make introductions gradually, and always make sure that the cat has somewhere to go where the dog can’t.


If you have smaller furry pets like guinea pigs or rabbits, keep them away from your Poodle. Although some Poodles may get along just fine with the family guinea pig, your Poodle may consider it lunch.

Chapter Preparing for Your Poodle’s Homecoming has detailed information about introducing Poodles to children and other pets.

Considering the Costs of Poodle Ownership

When you fall in love with that adorable Poodle puppy or charming Poodle adult, you’re thinking with your heart, which is fine, except that your heart rarely concerns itself with finances and time. Think about what a dog can cost during its lifetime, which can be 12 to 14 years for a Standard and 13 to 17 years for a Toy or Miniature. In the following sections, I explain money and time costs that may affect your decision to adopt a Poodle.

How much is that doggy? Money matters


It’s not entirely true that the best things in life are free. There’s nothing better than having a dog in the family, but expect expenses:

– Consider the price of a dog, which can be anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. Think about the everyday costs of food, toys, beds, crates, collars, and leads. (See Chapter Choosing the Best Poodle for You for details on the gear you need for your Poodle.)

– You need to budget for annual visits to the veterinarian, vaccinations, assorted medicines, and possibly even surgery. If you’re not showing in the breed ring, you’ll want to spay or neuter, and even the healthiest dog may have an accident or swallow something he shouldn’t. An annual tooth cleaning is a good idea, too. (See Part IV for more about health issues.)

– Grooming supplies, or professional grooming, comes next for Poodles. Poodles are labor-intensive when it comes to coat care, even though they don’t shed. Many Poodle owners have a standing appointment with a groomer. The cost per session is anywhere from $50 to $150 for a Standard, and $35 to $50 for a Toy or Miniature. These prices are for pet clips. Show clips, if a groomer even does a show clip, are much more. Most groomers also charge extra if the coat is matted. Using $50 as an average monthly grooming trip, that’s $600 per year for every year of your dog’s life. (I cover grooming in more detail in Chapter Providing Your Poodle with a Nutritious Diet.)

The clock’s ticking: Time issues


Before you add a Poodle to your family, consider the following time factors:

– You or someone else in the family need to spend time housetraining your Poodle puppy, and that may include being home at lunchtime or cutting an evening out short. See Chapter Keeping Your Poodle Clean and Attractive for more about housetraining.

– Plan to spend time teaching your Poodle basic manners, as I explain in Chapter Housetraining Made Easy. You may also want to go further and train for competitive events (which I cover in Chapter Showing Off and Enjoying Your Poodle’s Talents).

– You need to devote time to weekly grooming in between the full grooming, whether done at home or by a professional. A Poodle kept in a fairly short, simple clip needs brushing and combing once or twice a week. For each session, plan to spend 20 minutes on a Toy, 30 minutes on a Miniature, and as much as 45 minutes on a Standard. If the Poodle is in a long or elaborate clip, he needs more frequent brushing. The time needed to brush a Poodle increases in proportion to the length of hair. (See Chapter Providing Your Poodle with a Nutritious Diet for details on grooming.)

– You also need time to exercise and play with your Poodle. A game of fetch and a walk around the block once or twice a day may be fine for a Toy, whereas a Miniature will appreciate a mile or more, and a Standard can be your jogging buddy. Exercise amounts will vary, depending on your dog’s age and conditioning.

by Susan M.Ewing

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