Origin and Brief History
The Poodle breed originated as a hunting retriever in Germany, before gaining widespread popularity in France. The Standard Poodle was bred first, and is a sporting dog. The smaller sizes (Miniature and Toy) were selectively bred later for their size. The smallest of the recognized Poodle breeds, the Toy was developed in England during the 18th century, as a companion dog. They were also commonly used as circus performers.
The Toy Poodle is a friendly and spirited dog, who makes an excellent companion and family dog. Despite their small size, Toy Poodles love to be active. They need regular exercise and mental stimulation; obedience training is highly recommended. They are very intelligent, trainable dogs, and are always eager to please. For this reason they make great agility and performance dogs. Because they are accustomed to being groomed frequently, they are amenable to being handled and are good with children. They are not a suitable breed for small children or toddlers because they can’t tolerate rough play or careless handling; their small size makes them prone to injury.
Poodles have a fine, curly coat, which requires daily brushing to prevent matting. However, they barely shed and they are considered to be “hypoallergenic”, so that many people who are allergic to dogs can tolerate Poodles.
The characteristic “Poodle cut” initially had the functional purpose of insulating the dogs’ joints (hips notably the hips and ankles) from the cold water. Tradition dictates that this cut is used for all three sizes in dog shows. However, there are a number of clips that are easier to maintain, such as a puppy clip, in which most of the hair is clipped short, other than a topknot on the head. Most owners opt for a pet clip, in which the hair is clipped uniformly short. In any case, the Toy Poodle requires professional grooming every 4-6 weeks.
Specification of Breed
There are three recognized sizes of Poodles: Standard, Miniature, and Toy. AKC guidelines dictate that the Toy Poodle should be no taller than 10 inches at the shoulder, but can be smaller. An unofficial variation of the Toy Poodle, the Teacup Poodle, is usually shorter than 8 inches at the shoulder and weighs less than six pounds. Poodles should have a long, straight muzzle, long ears that lie close to the head, and an alert, intelligent expression. Poodles come in a multitude of colors, including black, white, apricot, silver, red, and brown. There are also parti-colored Poodles, whose coats are a combination of colors.
The Toy Poodle is subject to a number of orthopedic problems. Because their bones are small and fragile, they can easily break bones from a fall. They have a very high incidence of luxated patella (kneecap), which can lead to an unstable knee joint, arthritis, and ligament rupture. Both problems require surgery to repair. Toy poodles are prone to collapsing trachea, which can result in coughing (which might be severe). They have a tendency to develop dental disease. They need vigilant home care (tooth brushing) as well as regular dental cleanings by a veterinarian. Like many other small breed dogs, they can develop degeneration of the heart valves, which can eventually lead to congestive heart failure. However, the breed is very long-lived (typically 14-16 years). If a family is willing to commit to regular grooming, the Toy Poodle makes a wonderful family pet and companion.
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