While poodles are known for their signature cotton candy coat, these dogs can actually come in a variety of hair types and cuts. Poodles that are kept as pets may spend their whole lives in a puppy clip, while show poodles sport more formal haircuts.
So what types of poodle hair are there? These are some of the most common types of poodle hair:
- Puppy coat
- Curly coat
- Corded coat
- Improper coat
- Puppy clip
- English Saddle clip
- Continental clip
A poodle can have any of the above hair types or some combination of them. Read on to find out more about the different types of poodle hair.
Types of Poodle Hair Explained
There are many types of poodle hair that you can find on poodles, and these different hairstyles are dependent on the grooming practices used as well as the age and breeding stock that the dog comes from. Here is a breakdown of the different kinds of hair you’ll typically see on a poodle:
A poodle has its puppy coat up until around the age of twelve months. This hair type starts out as super soft, thin, wispy, and straight, but begins to grow curly and denser around the base as the pup grows older. Eventually, these curly, dense texture transforms the poodle’s puppy coat from wispy clouds into the tightly wound curls of an adult poodle.
Once a poodle transitions out of its puppy coat, it develops a thick curly hair type that covers the entire dog from head to toe. This coat is non-shedding and hypoallergenic; while poodles are well-known for their lack of shedding, this also means that their curly coat needs constant maintenance to avoid matting.
Another hair type seen less commonly in poodles (but commonly seen in other water dogs, such as the Portuguese water dog), is the corded coat. This is where a poodle’s hair is allowed to grow into long dreadlocks roughly the diameter of a pencil. In a corded coat, the poodle’s hair is partially matted and then broken up into strips to achieve a dreadlocked look.
Unfortunately, due to lack of careful selection during breeding, many poodles that are kept as companion animals rather than show dogs exhibit an improper coat, at least with regards to the breed standard. Improper coats are not curly throughout and will often exhibit soft waves in patches or across the entire dog. Improper coats are easier to brush, but a fault in show.
As opposed to a puppy coat, which is the natural hair that a young poodle has before the onset of maturity around the age of twelve months, a puppy clip is where a poodle is clipped short except for the dog’s face, throat, paws, and the base of the tail, which are all shaved clean.
Puppy clips are seen as a good choice for pet poodles that are allowed to roughhouse in the home or yard, as this kind of clip helps prevent shaved skin from developing sunburn and scratches/sores from being exposed to bare ground or carpeting.
This kind of hairstyle is practical for pet poodles but is also the only cut permissible in a competitive show for any poodle under twelve months of age.
English Saddle Clip
An English saddle clip on a poodle is what most people think of when they imagine a fancy cartoon poodle–legs, tail, and chest cut into elaborate pom-poms, with shaved sections in between each ball of fur.
This style of clip on a poodle was much more popular in the mid-twentieth century than it is today when puppy clips are more popular outside of dog shows. In many cases, an English saddle clip was and is seen as a status symbol, as it can be quite expensive to maintain proper grooming on a poodle if it isn’t performed at home.
The clip has also lost popularity in dog shows, as it is not flattering to many dogs and is said to disguise the lines of the dog, making it a less attractive choice during judging. The English saddle clip is generally considered to be a poor choice for soft-coated dogs.
A Continental clip is a similar hairstyle on a poodle to an English saddle clip, with the major difference being how the rear legs and back are cut. In an English saddle clip, the rear legs are cut into a series of pom-poms, whereas in the Continental clip, these sections are shaved.
The English saddle clip leaves hair along the back and the base of the tail in one solid piece, while the Continental clip dictates that two pom-pos be cut on the dog’s back forward and over either hip.
A Continental clip, like an English saddle clip, can be very difficult to maintain. But the end result is a dazzling profile and silhouette you won’t see on any other dog.
Check out this article I recently wrote on 25 haircuts for poodles. in it, you’ll find pictures of the most popular and unique haircut styles for your poodle out there.
Poodles and Hypoallergenic Hair
One of the major advantages of poodles is that their hair is hypoallergenic, which means that it does not tend to cause problems for most people who have dog allergies. This makes poodles a good pet choice for anyone who wants a dog but is susceptible to the sniffles and leaky eyes around them.
However, just because poodles are deemed a hypoallergenic dog and may cause fewer allergy symptoms than a double-coated breed of dog doesn’t mean that people with dog allergies will not suffer around them at all. Many people with dog allergies are triggered by proteins in a dog’s saliva and urine, as well as their hair and dander.
If you are considering a poodle as a pet and pet allergies are a concern, it’s advisable to do an allergy test with an immunologist to check and see how severe your allergic reactions are before committing to purchasing or adopting a dog.
If you are on a budget, it may be more economical to purchase an allergy kit from Amazon. My favorite is the 5Strands deluxe tester. With this test kit, you can easily test for any pet-related allergies you may have. Check it out here on Amazon for more information and current pricing.
Do Poodles Have a Double or Single Coat?
The source of the poodle’s hypoallergenic nature is due to the coat type that poodles have. While many dogs such as golden retrievers have a double coat, which is comprised of a soft undercoat that is protected by an outer layer of guard hairs, poodles only have a single coat.
The biggest difference between the two coat types is that single-coated dogs do not shed and are considered hypoallergenic, while double-coated dogs tend to shed throughout the season and are a bane for those with allergies since their shedding also results in a lot of lost dander that tends to cause allergies to act up.
Does Poodle Hair Stop Growing?
The answer is no, a poodle’s hair never stops growing. This is why if a poodle’s hair isn’t maintained properly, it will begin to tangle and form mats. In most cases, this is a very undesirable outcome.
However, in the case of poodles with corded coats, their coats are actually encouraged to mat (up to a point) before the mats are gently and carefully broken up until thin ropes until the poodle’s coat is corded evenly all over its body. This coat type can be seen in other water dogs, too, such as the Portuguese water dog.
A poodle’s coat will mat naturally without grooming intervention, and in some cases will cord naturally as well. But to make sure that the cords are presentable for exhibition, groomers will train them for a uniform appearance.
Problems with Poodle Hair
Despite the fact that it is hypoallergenic and lovely to look at, poodle hair comes with its own particular set of grooming and health problems. The hair of poodles has a tendency to thin and fall out, especially in female dogs that are going through heat or other hormonal surges.
Here are some other common issues with poodle hair:
Alopecia X: This is a balding condition caused by growth hormone deficiencies during the transition to adulthood in poodles and can cause loss of hair along both sides of the body. Luckily this is strictly a cosmetic issue for poodles (generally caused by poor breeding practices) and does not cause any other health problems.
Allergies: Like many purebred dogs that have enjoyed an immense amount of popularity, some poodle breeding lines have developed a series of allergies to things like food and shampoos that affect the skin, eyes, and hair. Excessive itchiness can cause a poodle to scratch its own hair out eventually, and even form sores and hot spots.
Sebaceous Adenitis: Like alopecia X, this is a hereditary disease of poodles and other breeds that are caused by poor breeding practices. This disorder causes a poodle’s coat to thin or fall out entirely. Unfortunately, it can’t be treated but should ideally be tested for genetically before two poodles are bred to reduce the chances of it showing up.
Castration responsive dermatosis: This is a somewhat rare hair loss issue that usually develops in adolescent male poodles and is designated as “castration responsive” because it is directly related to the dog’s hormone levels. Neutering is the recommended treatment (or spaying, as the condition can show up in females too).
How to Stop Poodle Hair from Matting
Aside from hereditary skin conditions and other issues, the main issue that the average poodle-owner has to deal with concerning the dog’s hair is matting.
The main cause of matting on a poodle is not brushing a poodle correctly or often enough. The cure for matting is to work the mat out with a proper grooming tool and brush the dog properly or more often going forward to avoid the formation of new mats.
Matting can become severe if not addressed early on, and if matting becomes too serious, the only option is to cut the mass of hair off the poodle entirely or shave it down to the skin in the area where the mat is located. Obviously, for show coats, this can be extremely detrimental.
The best preventative to avoid mats is to set up a strict and regular grooming schedule for your poodle. If you are incapable of grooming the poodle at home on a regular basis or don’t want to fuss with a fancy clip, make sure to set up recurring appointments for the poodle to be groomed into a neat, easy-to-manage puppy clip and comb it daily to stop tangles before they start.
My favorite comb is the GoPets Dematting Comb on Amazon. It easily gets the tangles out and is a great quality product. You can see more details and the current price here.
How to Groom Poodle Hair
Brushing a poodle might seem intimidating due to its special coat, but it shouldn’t be. As long as a poodle is brushed regularly, their coats are not that much more difficult to manage than many other breeds of dog.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should start brushing your poodle puppy right away once you acquire him/her, and make sure to turn the brushing sessions into positive experiences with plenty of treats and praise.
Once a puppy is used to the process of being brushed, it will be much easier to train the poodle to stand still, and the process of brushing becomes a much quicker and more enjoyable process. The easiest way to regularly brush a poodle is to train it to stand and stay on a table.
Here’s how to brush a poodle’s hair for best grooming results:
- Use a pin brush and brush sections of leg hair to start out with, gently lifting each leg and brushing around them. Training dogs to give a paw readily can be helpful for simplifying this process, as many dogs are naturally reluctant to let anyone handle their feet.
- To brush the poodle’s body, have the poodle lie on their side (belly rubs usually help) and brush one side, before maneuvering the poodle to turn around and lie on their other side. Teaching the poodle to respond to simple positioning commands can be very useful in accomplishing this.
- Brush out the ears and around the face, being careful not to move in startling ways or poke delicate parts of the dog’s anatomy. The more careful you are in grooming the dog, the more trust you will build up and the less reluctant the dog will be to get brushed. As you work, spray each section with a conditioning spray to reduce potential tangles.
- Comb out any mats or tangles gently and slowly, to avoid jerking the hair at the dog’s skin (which is obviously painful and will not gain you any cooperation). While combing, be sure to inspect the dog’s skin thoroughly for irritated spots, bald areas, or pests such as fleas and ticks.
Note: This is especially important on darker-colored poodles, such as black or chocolate poodles, since fleas and ticks will not show up as readily against their hair as in lighter-colored dogs.
Be sure to talk calmly to the poodle throughout this process and offer treats when they are behaving correctly, as this will encourage good behavior in the future. Once the coat is brushed out, the poodle can then be bathed.
If you own a poodle puppy, you may encounter some special challenges when it comes to grooming. I wrote a comprehensive guide all about how to groom your puppy. This article will help you do the job right. Find it here.
Home Grooming vs. Professional Grooming
Many people are intimidated by the grooming of poodles and assume that to keep a poodle looking good, and they have to be professionally groomed much more often than the average dog.
While this might be true for show poodles or for people who keep their poodles in complicated hairstyles, they don’t have the experience to maintain themselves, many poodles kept in simpler styles can be maintained from the comfort of home.
This can have the advantage of allowing the owner full control over the dog’s final hairstyle as well as allowing the dog to be groomed in more comfortable, familiar surroundings. The downside is that it takes a bit of practice grooming a poodle in order to do it well.
Since a poodle is years of commitment and professional grooming a poodle can cost thousands of dollars over the course of its life, it can be a financial good investment to learn how to groom your poodle early on. Plus, it also acts as a good bonding activity.
Bathing Poodle Hair
In order to maintain a good coat condition, poodles should ideally be bathed approximately once every three weeks. This is enough bathing to keep the poodle’s coat clean and free of debris, but not so much bathing that it strips the coat of its essential natural oils.
If a poodle’s coat is bathed too often, the poodle’s coat becomes dry and brittle, and this can leave it prone to hair loss. Too much bathing can also irritate the skin or make existing skin irritations worse.
If a poodle is not bathed often enough, however, it is likely that the poodle’s coat will begin to pick up all kinds of burrs, twigs, hitchhikers, and other debris, and that the coat will begin to mat around these tangling objects.
Because of the uniqueness of a poodle’s hair, maintaining proper grooming is vital to making sure your poodle is happy and healthy.
Poodle Hair: Fussy but Not Complicated
While poodle hair can be somewhat fussy to deal with compared to a smooth-haired breed of dog like a hound, these majestic dogs can be easily maintained with just a few tools and some regular brushing. Consistent brushing is the key, not fancy tools or professional grooming.
Taking a poodle’s hair type and clip into account while grooming is the best way to maintain the poodle’s coat quality.