Poodles are one of the most beautiful and versatile dogs out there. They are smart and athletic while being affectionate and elegant. A poodle is a great choice for almost anyone, which is likely a huge reason why people are mixing them with just about every dog out there! They have curly coats with very minimal shedding, but they do require very regular grooming and the earlier you get your poodle started with grooming the better.
When we think of poodles there is a look that almost always comes to mind, a clean shaven narrow muzzle, a big round poof of hair on top of their heads, dainty little feet, and pom poms, even though most poodles don’t wear pom poms. While all of these things exist for a reason and (in my opinion) look beautiful, sometimes these hairstyles can turn people off. Well I am here to tell you not to let this stop you from getting a poodle because you don’t have to do any of these things!
I encounter many people with poodle mixes that request their dog not “look like a poodle” but the truth is even a poodle doesn’t have to look like a poodle! If you so choose, you can have your dog’s face long and fluffy, not shave the feet, and even leave their tail long. You can really do anything with their coat type providing it is being well maintained. They are truly one of the most versatile dogs even in the way they are groomed.
With that being said, if you want your dog to have the poodle look the following are the key aspects of what makes their style so special, and what you want to ask your groomer for.
Poodles get what we call a “clean face”, this is where we shave the dogs face starting from the corner of the eye to the corner of the ear, all the way down the muzzle, and including part of the throat. Getting a shaved face is not going to be your dog’s favorite thing, but with an early start and consistent grooming, most poodles get used to it fairly quickly and become well behaved for it.
Similar to the face, “clean feet” are when we shave the foot completely, we get all the little hairs in
their pads, on the top of their foot, and in between their toes. This is also something that is super important to get started on early.
Please remember to have patience with your dog and your groomer. The first few times your poodle has their feet and face shaved may not be as clean as we want but especially in the case of a puppy we are trying to make sure they have a good experience first and foremost. The perfect job will only happen if we can get the dog comfortable.
The tail of a poodle is what we call “banded”, the top 1/3 or so of the tail is shaved and the remaining hair is scissored into a pom pom.
The top knot is the ball of hair you see on top of a poodle’s head. When you shave the face, you’re left with a long tuft of hair on the top of the head that is blended and the sides, then scissored into a nice rounded shape. One hallmark of a poodle topknot is that the hair over the ear is scissored to creating definition between the ear and the topknot.
You can’t really have a shaved face without also getting a topknot, I’ve seen it done, but it looks very odd. What you can instead do is either get a very short topknot or decide not to cup the hair over the ears so the topknot blends into the ears and creates what can be a very cute look.
If you’ve asked for all of the above, your poodle is definitely going to have the “poodle look” so at this point you can really do whatever you want with the hair on their body. Most (not all) of the fancy clips you see on poodles are often show dogs that are kept in wraps during downtime as well as being bathed and brushed out constantly. Some of these clips can certainly be modified for pets so definitely ask your groomer. However, if that is something that you really want, you must be willing to put in the time and work closely with your groomer
If you have an active dog that enjoys swimming and hiking, then keeping their body short all over is likely a great option for you. Short is also great if you know your not going to spend lots of time brushing and combing your dog out. The great news is, poodles look adorable with any length of hair so its best to choose what is the most comfortable and realistic for you both.
If you are looking for something a little more stylish you can opt for a style where the legs are left fuller than the body, some call this the lamb, the puppy cut, the teddy bear, they are all essentially the same thing. This is a great look for poodles and depending on the length you choose to leave the hair and how often you bring your dog in for grooming can be low maintenance for you. Obviously if you leave the hair longer and go longer between grooms, please do the necessary brushing and combing at home.
Pro Tip : Check the ears!
Poodles have hairy ears, outside and inside. When brushing and combing your poodle at home, pay special attention to their ears. Be sure you are able to easily get your comb all the way through them paying close attention to the back where the ear meets the head.
Poodles are such great dogs with really some of the most fun hair to groom, I encourage you to try different looks for your fuzzy companion. Look into asian fusion, grow the face out, shave the ears (trust me it’s super cute!). Life is too short for boring hair!