Poodles have a curly coat that never stops growing, setting
them apart from most other breeds of dogs. While they shed very
little and can make good companions for people with allergies,
the poodle’s coat also presents some unique challenges when it
comes to grooming. They typically need to be groomed at least
once every two months to prevent them from becoming matted and
developing skin problems. Although grooming a poodle can be a
challenge, especially if you’ve never done it before, there are
ways to make it easier on both you and your dog, while still
getting the results you want.
Puppies frightened by clippers may develop an aversion to them
and be hard to groom; it’s best to introduce them slowly. Touch
your poodle with the clippers while they are off, then turn
them on and allow your dog to see and smell the clippers while
getting used to the noise. Extra time spent while poodles are
young can prevent trauma and make clipping easier for the rest
of their lives. It is also important that you never use dull
blades to clip poodles, since these will pull their hair and
scrape their skin. This hurts and causes clipper burn,
characterized by raw spots that turn into open sores when your
dog scratches them. Sharp blades will keep your dog
comfortable, prevent clipper burn and cut the hair much more
efficiently than dull blades.
Very fine hairs grow way down inside poodles’ ears, and the
hair must be pulled out so that it won’t hold moisture and dirt
in. Removing the hair inside the ears helps to promote airflow
and minimizes ear problems. This is important since a dirty or
moist ear canal can lead to serious ear infections. It is best
to ask a professional groomer or the technician at your
veterinary clinic to perform this grooming task as it can be
painful and cause inflammation and irritation for the dog if it
is not done correctly.
Even if you brush poodles every two to three days, mats can
sneak in and cause problems. Cutting them out or pulling on
them with a brush or rake can cause pain to your dog and will
certainly break the coat, possibly even leaving a bare patch.
To coax the mats out without damaging the coat, part the hair
as far down as possible and spray the mat with coat
conditioner. Once the mat is dampened with the conditioner, use
a flat metal comb held perpendicular against the dog’s skin and
pick the mat apart with the teeth. If you are patient with this
process it won’t hurt your dog or your dog’s coat. There are
specially made mat removal tools for this purpose.
Poodles get that fluffy, full look to their coats from being
properly dried. While you can simply use a drier to dry them or
even let them outside on a warm day, blow drying is the only
way to get the classic look that poodles are famous for. First,
get them as dry as possible by rubbing them well with towels
before you even start the drier. This will save you lots of
time and tedious brushing, yet still give your dog the look you
want. Run the drier on high and direct a stream of air at the
dog, moving it across the body so that all of the hair gets
separated and dried. Once the basic drying is done, but while
the coat is still slightly damp, go back over each section and
blow the hair while you use a slicker brush to brush it against
the airflow, straightening the hair out and making your
poodle’s coat stand out from the dog’s body.
Poodle Cuts and Hairstyles
Your Poodle has
several options for coiffing their fur: they can be trimmed
neatly all over, or decked out in elaborate cuts that involve a
mixture of shaving and growth for a pompom effect. Only a few
fur stylings -- which are often referred to as clips --
are allowed at showings like the Westminster Dog Show. Discover the clips
available for your pet Poodle, and choose your favorite!
This grooming style,
which is also referred to as a Miami clip, involves shaving the
Poodle around their face and feet, as well as the tail. Hair is
grown out elsewhere on the Poodle’s body to your desired
length, and there is a pom at the base of the tail as well as
by each of the Poodle’s paws.
This interesting and carefully executed look has some areas of
the Poodle shaved completely, like the face, belly, and legs.
Other sections are allowed to grow out, and there are a poms at
the feet of the Poodle. This cut is one of the ones permitted
at dog shows.
A variation on the Continental Clip is the English Saddle Clip,
which also shaves the face and tail, but has pom-poms along the
Young dogs can be shown with this grooming style, which
involves shaving the face, tail, and feet, and pulling the top
knot into a ponytail using a ponytail holder. Hair elsewhere on
the dog’s body is trimmed with scissors.
Also known as utility clips, this grooming style features a
topknot and tail that are a bit longer than the rest of the
dog’s fur. Elsewhere, hair is scissored on the dog’s body
except for the face, feet, and end of the dog’s tail. This
style is allowed at dog shows.
This grooming style is very similar to the kennel, or utility,
clip -- face, tail, and feet are all shaved. In this clip, the
topknot and tail are basically the same length as the dog’s
hair elsewhere on the body, which can be the length you choose.
This is one of the grooming styles allowed at shows.
Town and Country Clip
This involved grooming style, with a shaved face, feet, belly
and neck, is not allowed at shows. Elsewhere on the dog’s
body, hair is trimmed to the desired length.
References & Resources
More on Poodles