Although it looks dainty, the standard poodle is a working breed. These dogs are agile, athletic, and energetic hunters that love the water and have a proud history of retrieving waterfowl for hunters. In fact, though strongly associated with the French (and believed by most to have originated in France), the poodle takes its name from the German word “pudel,” which translates to “plays in water.”
Unlike more common, larger service dog breeds like Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and German shepherds, this medium breed lacks the size for some assistance work like pulling a wheelchair or providing physical support. However, they work well as hearing guide dogs and for other less physically demanding service tasks, while still having the size and strength to carry and fetch a variety of items for their human partners.
If you’re trying to decide on an assistance dog breed, there’s a lot to take into consideration. If a medium-sized dog with a good deal of energy sounds right, a standard poodle is worth looking into. Of course, there are many other factors to think about.
Read through the following information about standard poodles to gain some insights into whether this might be an appropriate hearing or other type of service dog for you.
Why Standard Poodles Make Good Assistance Dogs
Don’t be fooled by the poodle’s stylish looks; there’s substance there too. These are among some of the most intelligent and most obedient dogs to be found. This, combined with their curiosity and eagerness to please, makes them easy to train and dependable. These qualities made the breed popular as circus dogs when such things were more common, and today they’re valued for assistance work.
Poodles appreciate mental challenges and lots of physical activity, both of which often come with assistance work, and they have an innate love of retrieving. They’re also particularly adaptable to different environments, allowing them to stay focused and alert at home and in all sorts of public situations. These dogs are friendly but not overly enthusiastic or stimulated around unknown people or animals, remaining well behaved and attentive to their responsibilities outside the home.
Also, these dogs don’t like being left alone for prolonged periods, thriving with frequent interaction. So, not only can disabled people benefit from the companionship of a standard poodle, but these dogs mutually benefit from a person relying heavily on them.
Standard Poodle Physical Characteristics
Standard poodles are gracefully built and feature a round head with an elongated muzzle. Their long legs contribute to their speed and agility, both of which they like to put to use on the land and in water. Poodle coats may be coarse and curly or soft and wavy, and they come in any solid canine color. When fully grown, dogs of this medium-sized breed stand about 1.5 feet tall and weigh around 55 pounds.
Standard Poodle Temperament
These are exceptionally smart, loving, loyal, and obedient dogs with a strong work ethic and great stamina. Poodles are adaptable and curious, eager for lots of mental stimulation and daily exercise, including running and swimming. They crave attention and company, and are happy to provide it to their loved ones in return. While many dogs, including a good number of breeds most commonly trained as service dogs, are known for bonding most strongly with one person, standard poodles tend to form strong bonds with the whole family and get along quite well with children.
Standard Poodle Care and Health
Only consider partnering with a standard poodle if you’re able to offer plenty of attention and mental and physical activity every day. This is important to maintaining good behavior and mental health. Poodles shed very little and are considered a hypoallergenic breed, but their coats are fairly high maintenance. These dogs should be brushed daily and clipped and bathed regularly; poodle care is best accomplished with the services of a professional groomer.
Standard poodles live up to 15 years with high-quality care, including maintenance of a healthy weight, a nutritious diet, and regular veterinary checkups. Allergic and other skin conditions, cataracts, and hip dysplasia are common health problems associated with the breed.
If you’ve just begun the search for a service dog and aren’t sure about how to pick the best breed for your preferences and needs, start with Some Things to Think About When Choosing an Assistance Dog Breed.
Also, if you’re leaning towards partnering with a standard poodle, your assistance dog will require more frequent bathing than most other dogs; learn more about bathing your dog here.