How to Tell if Your Poodle is Purebred: A Complete Guide

Adding a new puppy to your home can be a very exciting experience and a great puppy to add is an adorable new poodle. Poodles come in a range of sizes and colors and, when purebred, can be a leader amongst dog shows everywhere.

While you can find a variety of mixed breed poodles, there is something special about a purebred.

How can you tell if your poodle is purebred? When poodles are purebred, there are some key characteristics you will note about their appearance to indicate their breeding:

  • General Appearance
  • Head Shape
  • Coat
  • Body
  • Forequarters
  • Hindquarters

To show your poodle in competitions, they will not only need to exhibit quality characteristics but will need to have AKC paperwork to prove their bloodlines. Even dog owners who have no interest in showing or breeding their pets should be wary of who they purchase their poodles from. Some unethical breeders may sell mixed breed puppies at purebred pricing.

Exploring the Basics of the Poodle Breed

Poodles are a great breed for many families due to their energetic, yet friendly temperament and easy training abilities. However, they can be lonely dogs if left alone for too long and need a fair amount of regular care.

Smaller breeds do not need a lot of space and can be great apartment dogs, but they do have moderately high levels of energy that they need to run off each day.

The breed itself comes in three sizes, depending on what you are looking for and your family’s needs. From smallest to largest of the breed are the Toy, the Miniature, and the Standard poodle. The oldest of the three is the Standard Poodle. The basic size guide for these poodles is:

  • Toy – 10 inches and under at the shoulder
  • Miniature – 10 inches but not over 15 inches at the shoulder. Usually between 13 and 15 inches.
  • Standard – Over 15 inches at the shoulder Average are 22 to 27 inches.

The smallest members of the poodle breed are the toy, teacup and miniature poodles. Visit this article to learn about the history and characteristics of each.

While the sizing of the breed clearly varies, they all have similar features and personality traits that most owners love. They were once thought of as prissy or regal pets, but they are actually very athletic, eager, and extremely smart. They can be trained with great success and are extremely obedient with proper care.

Watch this video for more information on the poodle bred:

What Does it Mean for a Poodle to Be a Purebred?

The Oxford English Dictionary definition for the word purebred is, “An individual, especially a domesticated animal, bred from parents of the same breed or variety.”

This means that your purebred poodle has to have parents that are also both purebred poodles. In addition, the puppy’s grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. should also be purebred poodles.

Unless you are hoping to show or breed your pup, this does not exactly matter. However, knowing your pup is purebred can also help you get a better idea of its final size, stature, and shape.

Also, you can learn more about the temperament and behavioral characteristics that your pet will have later on in life, as mixed breeds may not have the friendly demeanor most poodles do.

Is Your Poodle Pup a Purebred?

Luckily, each dog breed has a basic standard laid out that you can follow to learn more about what your pup should look like.

The AKC website has the specifications for many breeds listed so that you can compare your dog to the breed standards. However, this can be challenging as even purebred dogs can differ slightly in appearance.

We will further discuss the ways to figure out if your dog is a purebred poodle and be more certain of this. However, going by appearance alone can help you narrow down your search for a purebred poodle and can help you ensure that your pet is of full blood.

Some of the key characteristics that you want to look for when analyzing your dog are:

The General Appearance of Purebred Poodles

Most poodles have similar personalities, as mentioned above. While this can differ from dog to dog, many poodles are very active, intelligent, and elegant appearing. You should notice a square build to their bodies, fairly well proportioned, and they usually carry themselves proudly.

Head Shape

Purebred poodles have a moderately rounded head with a slight but definite stop. The cheekbones and muscles are flat. The length from the occiput to the stop are about the same as the length of the dog’s muzzle.

Coat Texture

A great giveaway of if your poodle is purebred is by its coat as these are a non-shedding breed. This makes the dog a great choice for those with allergies and most can keep poodle with no reactions. However, poodles can be a variety of colors from blue, black, white, gray, silver, cream, brown, apricot, and café-au-lait.

No matter the shade, your poodle should have curly, wiry hair that is fairly dense.

These dogs need to be groomed regularly and if you are considering showing the dog, you will need to learn more about the different styles. Some who simply own but do not show their poodle style them in crazy ways, but the American Kennel Club only allows four shapes:

  • Continental
  • English Saddle
  • Sporting
  • Puppy Clip – for dogs under a year

Check out this article for much more on the different kinds of poodle hair and pictures for each.


Unlike many other breeds, the poodle has fairly snug skin and you will not see a lot of sagging. They have a strong, muscled shoulder. They should have a topline that is level, it should not slop nor roach from the highest point of the shoulder blade to the base of the tail. There should only be as light hollow behind the shoulder.

The chest is deep and should be moderately wide with ribs that stand out. The loin is shorter, broad and muscular. Also, the tail should be straight and high set, but you will want it to be docked to a length that ensures a balanced outline.

Forequarter Shape

As mentioned, the shoulders should be strong and muscled and the should blade is laid back and around the same length as the upper foreleg.

The forelegs themselves should be straight and parallel when viewed from the front of the dog. At a side view, the elbow is directly below the highest point of the shoulder.

The feet of most poodles are rather small and oval-shaped with toes that are arched. The pads on each foot should be cushioned and thick, for showing the dewclaws can be removed and nails should be groomed. The feet of the dog should not turn in or out.

Hindquarter Shape

The hindquarters should balance out the forequarters in shape. The hind legs are straight and parallel when viewed from behind. You will notice the dog is muscular, with stifles that are well bent. The femur and tibia are about equal in length.

Where to Buy Your Purebred Poodle?

While these physical characteristics can tell you a lot, it can be hard to differentiate between true purebred poodles and other breeds. This is where purchasing from a quality breeder is key.

If you are buying a poodle puppy, you want to ensure you are buying the best. While there is nothing wrong with adopting a pet or rescuing a dog, if you are paying a purebred price, you want a purebred pup.

There are four main ways to get a poodle puppy, these are:

  • From a purebred dog breeder
  • A backyard dog breeder
  • A puppy mill
  • A local rescue shelter or poodle rescue shelter

Buy from a Purebred Breeder

A purebred breeder is the best way to guarantee that you are getting a poodle puppy that has show quality bloodlines. These breeders usually take their job seriously and take great pride in their pets. You can find breeders who focus on standard, miniature, or toy sizes.

Though these are often the most expensive puppies on the market, they are usually the safest option. You will often see these breeders divide their puppies into two categories show quality and pet quality. Show quality puppies are usually the top of the litter and can be more expensive.

Most quality breeders will only sell to individuals who have been interviewed and vetted. You should be able to tell from the first time you speak to the breeder that they love poodles and want the best for their pups. Many of these pets also come with extras that backyard breeders or puppy mills do not offer, like:

  • A health guarantee ranging in length, usually a year or two
  • A record of the puppy’s first vaccinations
  • The ability to return the puppy for some level of refund, should an issue arise
  • A new puppy or owner packet with guidance on caring for your poodle
  • Proof of a pedigree and AKC or similar registration forms
  • The ability to contact them for additional guidance or help after leaving

Find a Rescue Shelter or Organization

If you are not solely interested in purchasing a puppy and simply want to add a poodle to your home, you can find some at a local shelter or organization. It may take a while to find a poodle at your local shelter, but this does happen periodically. You can also find organizations that are dedicated to taking on poodles that no longer have homes, these are a great option if you are willing to research and maybe travel.

While these dogs are not necessarily the best for showing purposes, they are great for homeowners of all types. Plus, older poodles are usually housebroken and are past the pesky puppy stage. Also, most adoption fees are lower than what it costs to purchase from a breeder.

Avoid Puppy Mills or Backyard Breeder

While some backyard breeders are amazing people and have great pups, these are usually accidental puppies. This means that some breeders advertise their puppies as purebred, but they may be mixed due to the accidental pregnancy.

This means you may be buying a pup that you believe is full poodle but is really half poodle and half the random dog down the street.

Puppy mills are something you should truly just avoid all together! These individuals are usually solely in the breeding business for money and put little care into the dogs they own. Often these poodles are not purebred, and the puppies are not cared for before purchase.

Ask for a Pedigree

If you are purchasing a puppy or older dog from a breeder, you should ask if they have pedigree papers. This will mean the puppy has either been KC or AKC registered and this style of pedigree is only given to purebred dogs. If your breeder gave you a pedigree upon purchases, you can almost be certain that your pup is purebred.

Most pedigrees will give you the details of the past five generations of your dog’s ancestors. This will show you any awards or accomplishments they may have made during their lifetimes. This is great for those who want to show the puppy later on.

In the rare case that your breeder is dishonest, you may have an invalid pedigree. However, this is rare, but some breeders have lied about the parents of puppies in the past. If your puppy begins to look less like a poodle than you were expecting, this could be why.

How Much do Poodles Cost?

One of the best ways to ensure that your puppy is a purebred poodle is the price your breeder asks. The price for standard, miniature, and toy poodles will vary from breeder to breeder, but you can expect to pay around the same amount from reputable breeders. Of course, as mentioned, a show pup will cost more than a puppy that is pet quality.

These pet-quality puppies usually lack the ideal coat color or appearance to compete in shows. However, they are still great pets if you do not have the budget or desire for a show dog. Also, some puppies that are in less demand, smaller, have a negative temperament, etc. may cost less as well.

Purebred, quality puppies can cost in the thousands. While pet quality or rescue dogs can cost around $500 to $1,000 depending on where you purchase. If you notice that the puppy is extremely lower in cost, this can be a sign that you are not purchasing a purebred dog.

Though it may seem odd considering size, most miniature and toy-sized poodles are more expensive than standard-sized poodles.

The reasoning behind this is that standard-sized poodles have much larger litters, making them more worth it for the breeder. While smaller dogs have smaller litters, making them more expensive to breed.

Other Ways to See if Your Pet is Purebred

Whether you just purchased your poodle pup, or you have had your dog for years, you may be interested in their true lineage.

A great place to start when it comes to deciding if your pet is purebred is to take them to the vet and simply ask their opinion. Veterinarians usually see hundreds of the same breed during their time in business, they should know more about what to look for.

While a simple visit to the vet cannot guarantee that your pet is purebred, they can identify a lot from their general appearance.

They are more knowledgeable on the appearance of an average poodle and can compare your pet. Based on appearance alone they can usually rule out if your pet is a mixed breed or more likely to be purebred.

Have Your Dog’s DNA Tested

The final way to see if your pet is purebred is to have your pet DNA tested. These services differ but some vets do offer this service and can handle the collection of the DNA for you.

You can also purchase an at-home DNA kit from Amazon here. These tests require you to do a bit more work by collecting and submitting the DNA samples. However, there could be significant cost savings by employing this method.

When you purchase a quality DNA test online, you can get basic information about your dog’s ancestors. These will differ but many go back to the great-grandparents which are usually enough to guarantee if they are purebred or not.

If you do have a puppy, you can learn more about what other breeds they are mixed with should this be the case. This can help you establish what the dog’s later temperament and size is going to be.

Does it Matter if a Poodle is Purebred?

If you have had your “poodle” for years, you probably could care less if your pet is truly purebred.

While this may be information you want to know, at the end of the day it may not mean anything to you at all. Most good pet owners will not sell or get rid of their dog simply because it is not purebred, especially after having it for some time.

However, if you are just purchasing a puppy for show purposes, it can be extremely important for your dog to be purebred. If you follow the steps previously mentioned, you are more likely to get a puppy that is purebred, and you will have no issues.

If it is extremely important to you, you should have the puppy examined by a vet, DNA tested, or ask for pedigrees to guarantee its lineage before purchasing or quickly thereafter. Some breeders will take the puppy back if it is proven to not be purebred, but this is very situational.

If you are just purchasing your puppy to keep as a pet, you may find that poodle mixed breeds are a great option. These dogs can still feature many of the great qualities that poodles possess and can become great pets.

Must Have Products For Poodles And Doodles

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful. Here are some products that I personally believe every owner should employ to help ensure the best quality of life for their dogs. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission.

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Brent Hartman

I'm Brent Hartman. I've been a dog lover my entire life and have owned many animals over the years. When my black lab Angus passed away, I was looking for another friend to share my life with. As a result of my research, I've come to love poodles and wanted to share some of what I've learned with you. Whether you're looking to adopt a poodle, or already own one, I created Poodle report to be the ultimate guide to help you find the answers you need.

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