At first glance, Miniature Poodles may not look like natural-born athletes. But don't let their small size fool you. The Mini Poodle is every bit the running, jumping, swimming dog as other breeds in the sporting group. This breed just fits on your lap better after a full day of fun!
As the name implies, the Miniature Poodle is a smaller version of the Standard Poodle. So, understanding the history of this breed begins with unpacking the story of the original Poodle.
Despite their strong association with the country, Poodles didn't originate in France. And no one really knows the full story behind the breed's origins. Poodles are likely related to the Portguese Water Dog and Irish Water Spaniel. Some experts believe they originated in Central Europe or Russia, while others think they got their start in Spain or Portugal. Another common theory is that German soldiers brought the Poodle to France during the 1400s.
Regardless of the breed's exact beginnings, everyone agrees that Poodles were bred for bird hunting and water retrieval. And their love of water is how they got their name. "Poodle" has its roots in an old German word meaning "to splash about."
What's the deal with the famous Poodle haircut? Hunters knew that Poodles would be more efficient swimmers if they had less hair. But less hair would leave them more vulnerable to the cold water. So, creative Poodle owners had an idea. They shaved most of the dog's body but strategically left puffs of hair to protect joints and vital organs from the cold. Problem solved.
In the 1700s, Standard Poodles became Miniature Poodles through selective breeding for a smaller size. Though several different sizes now exist, all Poodle varieties share the same breed standard.
Today, there's no question that these smart, fun-loving little pups have won over pet parents everywhere. The Miniature Poodle is always among the most popular dog breeds.
The Miniature Poodle is an elegant, well-proportioned, breed with a frizzy and curly coat.
The Miniature Poodle's dense coat can be curly (frizzy curls over the whole body) or corded (even cords that hang in varying lengths). Poodle owners often give their pups stylized haircuts or a "puppy clip" that trims hair to an even length over the whole body.
Mini Poodles come in a wide range of colors—including solid blacks, grays, silvers, browns, apricots, creams, and shading variations.
The Miniature Poodle has dark, oval-shaped eyes that offer an alert, intelligent expression. Covered in long, wavy hair, the ears are long enough to reach the corner of the lip when pulled forward.
The Miniature Poodle is an incredibly smart, playful breed that's perfect for people wanting a "big dog" personality in a small (and adorable) package. They make great housemates and get along well with kids, dogs, and other pets.
Mini Poodles love people and form tight bonds with their families. And because of their sensitive nature, they even pick up on the moods of people they're close to. This intuitive nature—coupled with their willingness to please—makes the Miniature Poodle a great assistance and therapy dog.
Miniature Poodles may bark, and some can be reserved around strangers. Early socialization can help prevent these and other undesirable behaviors.
Small dogs like Miniature Poodles have little stomachs that don't allow them to eat big meals. So, it's best to break their food up into several small meals throughout the day.
Mini Poodles also need a dog food formulated for their specific life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior). And a diet created for small-breed dogs will have the appropriate blend of nutrients and a smaller kibble size that helps them properly chew and digest their food. Foods developed specifically for Poodles are another great option to consider.
To prevent your Mini Poodle from becoming overweight, keep a close eye on their food portions. And be sure to take treats into account when tracking their daily calorie intake. Even a couple treats can add up to a lot of extra calories for a Miniature Poodle. As a guideline, treats should make up no more than 10% of a dog's calories.
Miniature Poodles have hair instead of fur. That means—unlike fur coats that grow to a point and then shed—a Poodle's hair keeps growing. Similar to human hair, their hair does still fall out. But it usually falls back into their coats (instead of all over the house). Because of this minimal shedding, Miniature Poodles are an excellent breed for people with allergies.
Though Miniature Poodles don't shed a lot, their coats still need regular grooming. To keep their hair free from mats and tangles, brush a few times a week. And because their hair grows continuously, plan on haircuts every month or so.
Miniature Poodles are particularly at risk for dental issues due to their small mouths and crowded teeth. All dogs require regular dental care—including at-home teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings. But Mini Poodles may require more frequent cleanings beginning at an earlier age.
The Miniature Poodle is a very athletic breed that enjoys all the same activities as other dogs in the sporting group. Long walks, jogs, agility, retrieving, rally, and swimming are fun ways for a Poodle to burn off energy. Or for something a little different, try musical canine freestyle—a mix of obedience training, dance, and tricks.
Mini Poodles are very bright dogs, and therefore easy to train. Because they're so responsive and eager to please, reward-based training using treats or favorite toys is the best approach with these pups.
Osteochondrodysplasia is a disorder of bone and cartilage development resulting in stunted growth, misshapen limbs, and abnormal movement.
PRCD is a particularly common form of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and is found in many breeds and mixed breed dogs. PRA is caused by the degeneration of photoreceptor cells of the retina resulting in progressive vision loss and eventual blindness.
von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) type 1 is a clotting disorder that usually causes mild bleeding tendencies in affected dogs though some may have more severe signs. The low level of von Willebrand's factor impacts the bloods clotting ability.
Knowing if your Miniature Poodle is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup’s lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
Reviewed July 26, 2020 by Annette Louviere, DVM