Toy Poodle

PetMD Editorial
Written by:
PetMD Editorial
Published: November 24, 2008

The Toy Poodle is the diminutive version of the Standard Poodle. Retaining the Poodle's elegant appearance and personality, the Toy Poodle proves the old adage: Great things do come in small packages.

Vital Stats

Breed Group: Companion Dogs Height: Up to 10 inches Weight: 6 to 9 pounds Lifespan: 12 to 14 years

Physical Characteristics

As it descends from the working retriever stock, the Poodle’s body is a reflection of its athletic background. Many breed standards list the Toy Poodle as 10 inches (or under) at the highest point of the dog's shoulders. This square-proportioned dog also has an elegant appearance and a proud carriage. It moves with effortless, springy, and light strides; its coat is dense, curly, and sometimes harsh. The Toy Poodle's conventional clips (or hairstyles) originally served to insulate and protect the dog’s chest and joints.

Personality and Temperament

This breed is very dedicated to its family. Some dogs can be shy in front of strangers and some may bark too much. As the energetic and sprightly Toy Poodle is among the brightest of breeds, it is a pleasure to train -- eager to please, responsive, alert, sensitive, playful, and lively.


The Toy Poodle is not meant for outdoor living, but it enjoys moving to and from the yard. Its coat requires it to be brushed on alternate days. When hair sheds, it does not fall off easily, but gets tangled, thus causing matting. Clipping is recommended four times annually, while the feet and face require monthly clipping. Most Poodles need professional groomers, but owners of the dogs can also learn the grooming procedure. Poodles require plenty of physical and mental exercise -- indoor games, short walks, etc. -- as well as lots of interaction with humans.


This dog has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years and may suffer from minor diseases like trichiasis, entropion, cataract and lacrimal duct atresia, and major aliments like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, patellar luxation, and epilepsy. Urolithiasis and intervertebral disk degeneration are sometimes noticed in the breed. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hip, knee, and eye exams on the dog.

History and Background

Even though this breed is associated with France, the early ancestors of the Toy Poodle were likely to be the Central Asian curly-coated dogs. These ancestors helped in herding and followed their masters to various routes taking them to different parts of Europe. Many rough-coated water dogs are also said to be the ancestors of the Poodle. Poodle is derived from pudel, a German word meaning "to splash," or puddle, indicating the breed's water abilities. It was also known as chien canard in France, reflecting its duck-hunting abilities.

The Poodle served as a guard dog, military dog, wagon puller, guide dog, and a circus performer. For swimming, its coat was sheared but was left a little long on the chest to keep it warm. The Poodle later became a stylish companion for trendy ladies. The French aristocracy also favored it and finally it became France’s national dog. The dog’s characteristic clip was highlighted and smaller varieties of the breed were successfully made.

In the late 19th century, Toy Poodles became show dogs. Some of these early show dogs had corded coats, meaning the coat was allowed to entangle in thin, long tresses. This trend lost popularity, as it was difficult to maintain, and the bouffant styles took its place. Even though the popularity of Toy Poodles in the United States diminished in the late 1920s, it has since made a successful comeback and is once again quite popular.

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