Poodles are highly intelligent, athletic dogs that were once used for hunting and retrieving ducks in Germany. Today, however, they’re known as the national dog of France and are ranked as one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. by the American Kennel Club.
They don’t shed much hair, either.
Poodles are a low shedding breed with a hypoallergenic coat, meaning they are generally considered more suitable for allergy sufferers than most dogs. However, daily brushing is required to maintain their dense, curly coat and remove any mats, so they are high maintenance with respect to grooming.
Read on to learn more about how much Poodles molt and what sort of effort is needed to maintain their coat so you know what to expect before adopting.
Guide to Poodle Shedding
Poodles are a low-shedding breed.
In fact, they are among the lowest shedding dogs in the world, along with dogs such as the Havanese and Bichon Frise for example.
So if you’re looking for a dog that won’t leave much hair around your home, then Poodles are ideal. And they come in three types (Standard, Miniature, and Toy) which are basically the same dog, just different sizes. And all types of Poodles are low shedders.
With that being said, you may notice some hair dropping off of their coat from time to time. So, despite the myth that they are completely “non-shedding,” they do drop some fur.
Why do they shed so little?
How much a dog sheds really depends on the individual breed. But with respect to the Poodle, there are a few main reasons why he sheds so little:
- They have a longer hair growth cycle. All dog hair goes through a natural “growth cycle” that consists of new hair growing (anagen), resting (catagen), and falling out (telogen). This cycle happens over and over, and so the longer it takes for the hair to finish the growth part of the cycle, the less they shed.
- Their coat traps loose hairs. Poodles have dense, curly, and wiry coats that tend to trap the old, dead hairs once they fall out. So most of the hair they lose tends to get trapped within their coat, meaning most of it will come out during brushing instead of floating around the home.
- They are single-coated. Most dogs have a double coat (outer coat and undercoat), whereas Poodles have just one layer of hair. This means they don’t tend to shed seasonally and drop less hair than a thick, double-coated dog like the Malamute.
Some people think the reason they don’t shed is “because they have hair rather than fur.” However, technically, hair and fur are the same thing. The difference really comes down to the words being used to describe it. Most people associate “fur” with animals and “hair” with humans.
With that being said, there is some research that suggests that there is a distinct difference between hair and fur and that hair takes longer to grow. In other words, hair has a longer growth cycle.
Whatever you want to call it, when you boil it all down, the real reason behind the lower shedding in a Poodle is that they have a longer hair growth cycle.
What if you notice excessive shedding?
It’s normal to notice some hair dropping off your Poodle. But if you’re noticing sudden hair loss or lots of hair everywhere, this could be cause for concern. Things such as fleas, allergies, or hormonal imbalances, for example, can cause excessive shedding. So if you have any concerns, you should contact your veterinarian for assistance.
Grooming Your Poodle
Poodles are a fairly high-maintenance breed with respect to grooming.
And the reason for this has to do with their coat. Poodles have a single coat that consists of dense, wiry, curly hairs that can grow quite long without clipping.
It does depend on how you groom your Poodle as to how much time and effort will be needed to maintain his coat, though. Most people have their Poodle clipped, which will save you some effort. But if you keep the hair longer, expect to put a lot more effort into grooming or be prepared to hire someone to do it for you.
Either way, it is worth brushing your Poodle regularly. Mostly because they are prone to matting at the base of the coat. Their wiry hairs tend to accumulate mats and knots, so daily brushing is needed to remove these and keep the coat in good shape. Matting isn’t as common with a shorter coat but is worth knowing in case you let the hair grow longer at times.
It is also worth bathing your Poodle every 2-4 weeks. They don’t smell or have the usual “dog odor” that most dogs do, but bathing can help maintain their coat. Some even bathe weekly to help remove any debris caught in the coat and loosen up mats before brushing.
In any case, it’s important not to use harsh dog shampoos or those designed for humans and to avoid overbathing. This is because either of these things can cause dryness and irritation, which in turn can cause excessive shedding.
How do you groom a Poodle? How you groom your Poodle really depends on how you keep his coat. For the most part, whether you keep it longer or shorter.
According to the American Kennel Club’s breed standard, there are four main ways you can groom your Poodle that are “acceptable” if you plan on entering the show ring. Which for most people doesn’t really matter, but you may find it interesting to know the most common ways people groom their Poodle either way.
- Puppy clip: this involves shaving around the paws, tail, and head area while trimming the rest of the hair with scissors. This cut is meant for Poodles under 12 months of age for the show ring, but it’s also a popular clip for Poodles of any age.
- Sporting clip: the sporting clip is a type of cut where there is a puff of hair left on the end of the Poodle’s tail and on top of their head, but otherwise, it’s similar to the puppy clip.
- Continental clip: this is an extravagant type of clip where some parts are left long and puffy while others are shaved closely. Few people get this done unless the Poodle is entering a competition.
- English saddle clip: this is a type of grooming that involves shaping and trimming certain parts of the coat to reach the desired look. It’s similar to the continental clip, but the hair is left a little longer overall.
There are other ways you can keep your Poodle’s coat.
In fact, you can shape their coat in any way you desire really. Some even groom them to look like teddy bears, especially if they’re a Toy Poodle!
It’s just that the AKC has guidelines on what they will accept within the show ring. So if that’s what you’re planning on doing, then you’ll need to pay more attention to the styles explained within the breed standard (linked to earlier).
What sort of brush should you use?
There’s no set rule on exactly what type of brush is best for a Poodle, and it does depend on how you keep his coat, but a slicker brush is a great brush for most Poodles.
A slicker brush is a common type of dog brush that consist of fine wire bristles with plastic tips on the ends. And these are ideal for brushing the longer areas of the coat.
At the same time, a pin and bristle brush combo is better suited to the shorter parts of the coat. You could also use a metal comb if you prefer, as these can also work well.
Are Poodles Really Hypoallergenic?
The American Kennel Club, and numerous other sites, list the Poodle as a “hypoallergenic” dog breed. But what exactly does that mean?
Well, to start with, no dog is completely 100% hypoallergenic. Not even hairless or so-called non-shedding dogs. And this is because ALL dogs produce allergens like dander (dead skin), sweat, saliva, and urine. These are the things that cause allergies in the first place, not the hair.
So, in reality, a hypoallergenic dog is just a dog that is less likely to cause problems for allergy sufferers than most dogs. Which means that, while the Poodle is low shedding and considered to be hypoallergenic, allergy sufferers may not be completely out of the woods, so to speak.
Are Poodles completely “non-shedding?”
Poodles don’t shed much, but they are not completely “non-shedding,” either. All dogs with hair shed (or molt) to some extent. It’s just that Poodles shed a lot less, and given the texture of their coat, most of the hair they do molt gets trapped within their coat.
Do about Poodle mixes? Do they molt?
Many popular dogs are mixed with Poodles to make them lower shedding and, in some cases, less allergenic. Like the Labradoodle, for example, a cross between a Labrador and Poodle.
However, most of the “doodle” mix breeds still shed to some extent. It’s just that high shedding purebred dogs that are mixed with a Poodle often result in a lower shedding mixed breed, given how little the Poodle molts.
What other dogs are low shedders?
There are many low-shedding dogs out there. For example, the Bichon Frise and Portuguese Water Dog. However, if you’re looking for a low shedding, hypoallergenic dog (that is also easy to groom), then breeds like the Italian Greyhound and Basenji are ideal.
Is it hard to groom a Poodle?
How difficult a Poodle is to groom really depends on how you keep his coat. In particular, whether you keep it longer or shorter, and what sort of style you choose. It is normally easiest to simply trim his coat every 2-3 months, as a short coat will be easier to maintain. However, even with short hair, Poodles require regular brushing to keep their coat free from mats and tangles.