Poodles are one of the most recognized dog breeds in the world, due in part to their intricate and often unusual stylized haircuts. Since poodles seem to always have a well-groomed and shaved appearance, we wanted to learn more about why. Is this simply an owner’s personal preference or is shaving a poodle a necessary part of the grooming process?
Shaving a poodle is necessary because of the breed’s hair texture, amount, and growth rate. Poodles have incredibly thick and curly hair. Shaving poodles allows owners to keep the dog’s hair free from tangles or mats, the dog to be comfortable in warmer temperatures, and to make daily upkeep easier.
But, there’s quite a bit of ins and outs of shaving a poodle, such as when to do it and when you can skip it for a while. There is also rich history to how the different poodle styles evolved over time. Let’s dive in.
Should Poodles Be Shaved?
Shaving poodles is definitely necessary. Poodles have very thick curly hair that, unlike dog breeds with typical fur, does not shed. When a poodle’s hair falls out, due to its thick and curly texture, the hair quickly wraps itself around the surrounding sections of hair, eventually creating mats and tangles. As such, it is important to maintain appropriate grooming for poodles, which includes shaving.
How often should poodles be shaved?
There are several different shaving styles for Poodles today, and a reputable groomer will be familiar with the different looks, styles, and how to cut and maintain them. Most groomers recommend that owners bring their poodles in for grooming every 6 – 8 weeks.
This particularly holds true for some of the very intricate grooming styles, where tufts of hair are left long around the poodles’ face, feet, and chest area. To ensure that the dogs remain comfortable, groomers will recommend no longer than ten weeks between grooming visits, at the very most.
Poodles do not have typical dog “fur.” They have hair, and as such, they don’t shed the way most dogs will, particularly in the Summer months, when it is warm. If poodle hair is left to grow long, it is vital that their owners spend the time daily to carefully brush out the knots and dirt from their dog’s hair. If a poodle’s hair is left unattended, it will quickly grow matted and unruly, which, in addition to looking rather unsightly, is very uncomfortable for the dog.
Should Poodles Be Shaved in the Summer? What About Winter?
Poodles should be groomed year-round, and certainly many owners, particularly those who live in warmer climates, may choose a closer cut in the summer months simply to ensure their poodle is comfortable in the heat of the season.
While we often use the term “shaved” to describe the grooming technique used on Poodles, it isn’t entirely accurate. Poodles are not shaved to expose their bare skin; in fact, the process is much closer to shearing a sheep, rather than a true shave. Shearing the poodle leaves enough hair covering the dog’s skin to protect them from sunburn, rashes, and other skin sensitivities.
In the winter months, many owners may choose to leave their poodle’s hair slightly longer, to help guard against frigid temperatures and keep their pups comfortable and warm. It is important longer hair is maintained by the owner between grooming sessions. This requires daily sessions with a brush, untangling any knots or mats, and ensuring that dirt and debris don’t remain on the hair or on the dog’s skin, which can ultimately cause irritation.
Is it Necessary to Shave a Poodle’s feet?
While there are some poodle grooming styles that leave more hair around the feet and legs, many owners prefer to have their dog’s feet shaved. First and foremost, due to the amount of hair poodle’s have, it can be easy to attract dirt, grime, and debris in their hair, particularly around the feet, as they explore outside on walks, in the yard, or even in the home.
From a maintenance perspective, keeping the poodle’s feet shaved will make daily grooming much easier for an owner. Dog’s feet, in general, are vulnerable to cuts, scrapes, and other wounds, simply from going on walks or exploring around the house. By maintaining trimmed hair around the foot area, it is easy to assess any injuries, and much easier to keep the feet clean.
Many owners also believe that their dogs are kept much cooler in the warmer months if their feet are shaved. Poodle hair can grow incredibly thick remarkably fast, so many owners prefer to keep their dog’s sheared pretty close to the skin, around the body and the feet, for both comfort and maintenance purposes during the Spring and Summer months. So while shaving a poodle’s feet isn’t necessary, it definitely has its advantages in terms of grooming and comfort.
Shaving a poodle’s feet can be rather tricky. With the amount of hair growth, the sensitivity of the feet, and the complexity of the task, most groomers recommend that owners have a professional handle the hair trimming around the feet. Professional groomers are well trained on what size blade to use, what direction to cut the hair, and how to handle grooming in small sensitive areas like the feet and the face.
Unless you have been trained on grooming techniques, it’s definitely better to leave those types of tasks to the professionals.
However if you are determined to take on this task yourself, here is a helpful video to show you how to do it properly:
Where Did Poodle Grooming Styles Come From?
Poodle grooming styles can look pretty unique, and surely many have wondered where or why these styles were created. Poodle grooming techniques originated in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries when poodles were tasked with retrieving items from bodies of water. Concerned that the abundance of hair would weigh the poodles down, groomers would remove much of the poodles’ hair.
However, the hair around the chest area, near the dog’s internal organs, and the poodle’s joints – around the legs, in particular, were left thick, in an attempt to keep them warm. Since the dogs would be working in the water all times of the year, and at many different temperatures, it was important that their joints remained limber, and they weren’t too cold to perform the required tasks.
As poodles grew in popularity, especially as pets, grooming styles began to change and evolve quite a bit. In the late 17th century and into the 18th century, poodle owners began to try different stylized grooming techniques. This is where the poodle grooming styles began to really take off from an aesthetic perspective, no longer a true necessity, as in the years prior.
Understanding Poodles & Their Shaving Needs
All in all, Poodles can be a wonderful companion and pet. However, in terms of maintenance, due to the unique characteristics of their hair and the speed in which it grows, poodles definitely require more care and maintenance than many other dog breeds. However, their stunning looks and personality are well worth the effort.
So if you decide to adopt a poodle, it is important to be prepared to comb their hair daily to remove dirt, dust, and tangles and schedule regular appointments with a groomer. A good groomer will take the time to discuss different maintenance styles for your poodle so you can choose a style that works best for your dog based on the climate where you live, the activities your dog will be involved in, and the amount of time you can commit to upkeep.