Your Miniature Poodle
Caring for Your Faithful Companion
Miniature Poodles: What a Unique Breed!
Your dog is special! She’s your best friend, companion, and a source of unconditional love. Chances are that you chose her because you like Miniature Poodles and you expected her to have certain traits that would fit your lifestyle:
- Highly trainable and eager to please
- Hypoallergenic coat sheds very little
- Energetic, active, and athletic
- Sweet, gentle, and sensitive
- Great with kids and other dogs: a true family pet
- Outgoing and friendly personality
However, no dog is perfect! You may have also noticed these characteristics:
- Coat needs to be cared for frequently to prevent matting and tear staining
- May have a tendency to bark excessively
- Exhibits signs of separation anxiety if left alone too much
- Easily bored and will find her own fun
- Needs frequent attention from her family
- Prone to a number of health problems
Is it all worth it? Of course! She’s full of personality, and you love her for it! She is a joyful and clever companion that enjoys being the center of attention.
The Miniature Poodle is one of three Poodle varieties; all three share the same breed standards and differ only in size. Poodles originated in Germany for hunting waterfowl. The characteristic “Poodle Clip” was developed by hunters to help the dog swim more efficiently, with hair left over the joints to protect them from the cold. Miniature Poodles are quick to learn and have a comical personality. They are obedient, lively, and loyal family companions.
Your Miniature Poodle’s Health
We know that because you care so much about your dog, you want to take good care of her. That is why we have summarized the health concerns we will be discussing with you over the life of your Poodle. By knowing about health concerns specific to Miniature Poodles, we can tailor a preventive health plan to watch for and hopefully prevent some predictable risks.
Many diseases and health conditions are genetic, meaning they are related to your pet’s breed. There is a general consensus among canine genetic researchers and veterinary practitioners that the conditions we’ve described herein have a significant rate of incidence and/or impact in this breed. That does not mean your dog will have these problems; it just means that she is more at risk than other dogs. We will describe the most common issues seen in Miniature Poodles to give you an idea of what may come up in her future. Of course, we can’t cover every possibility here, so always check with us if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms.
This guide contains general health information important to all canines as well as the most important genetic predispositions for Miniature Poodles. This information helps you and us together plan for your pet’s unique medical needs. At the end of the booklet, we have also included a description of what you can do at home to keep your Miniature Poodle looking and feeling her best. You will know what to watch for, and we will all feel better knowing that we’re taking the best possible care of your pal.
General Health Information for your Miniature Poodle
Dental disease is the most common chronic problem in pets, affecting 80% of all dogs by age two. And unfortunately, your Miniature Poodle is more likely than other dogs to have problems with her teeth. It starts with tartar build-up on the teeth and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth. If we don’t prevent or treat dental disease, your buddy will lose her teeth and be in danger of damaging her kidneys, liver, heart, and joints. In fact, your Miniature Poodle’s life span may be cut short by one to three years! We’ll clean your dog’s teeth regularly and let you know what you can do at home to keep those pearly whites clean.
Miniature Poodles are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections — the same ones that all dogs can get — such as parvo, rabies, and distemper. Many of these infections are preventable through vaccination, which we will recommend based on the diseases we see in our area, her age, and other factors.
Obesity can be a significant health problem in Miniature Poodles. It is a serious disease that may cause or worsen joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain and heart disease. Though it’s tempting to give your pal food when she looks at you with those soulful eyes, you can “love her to death” with leftover people food and doggie treats. Instead, give her a hug, brush her fur or teeth, play a game with her, or perhaps take her for a walk. She’ll feel better, and so will you!
All kinds of worms and bugs can invade your Miniature Poodle’s body, inside and out. Everything from fleas and ticks to ear mites can infest her skin and ears. Hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms can get into her system in a number of ways: drinking unclean water, walking on contaminated soil, or being bitten by an infected mosquito. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to you or a family member and are a serious concern for everyone. For your canine friend, these parasites can cause pain, discomfort, and even death, so it’s important that we test for them on a regular basis. We’ll also recommend preventive medication as necessary to keep her healthy.
Spay or Neuter
One of the best things you can do for your Poodle is to have her spayed (neutered for males). In females, this means we surgically remove the ovaries and usually the uterus, and in males, it means we surgically remove the testicles. Spaying or neutering decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancers and eliminates the possibility of your pet becoming pregnant or fathering unwanted puppies. Performing this surgery also gives us a chance, while your pet is under anesthesia, to identify and address some of the diseases your dog is likely to develop. For example, if your pet needs hip X-rays or a puppy tooth extracted, this would be a good time. This is convenient for you and easy for your friend. Routine blood testing prior to surgery also helps us to identify and take precautions for common problems that increase anesthetic or surgical risk. Don’t worry; we’ll discuss the specific problems we will be looking for when the time arrives.
Genetic Predispositions for Miniature Poodles
Cushing’s Disease is a malfunction of the adrenal glands causing them to produce too much steroid hormone. This is a common problem in dogs, and your Miniature Poodle is more likely than other dogs to be affected. The condition usually develops slowly, and the early signs are easily missed. Symptoms include drinking and urinating more than normal, increased appetite and reduced activity level. Later, a potbelly, thin skin, and hair loss are characteristic. Treatment usually includes oral medications, and requires close coordination with us to ensure correct dosing.
Diabetes mellitus is a fairly common disease in dogs. Any breed can be affected, but Miniature Poodles have an above average incidence. Dogs with diabetes are unable to regulate the metabolism of sugars and require daily insulin injections. It is a serious condition and one that is important to diagnose and treat as early as possible. Symptoms include increased eating, drinking, and urination, along with weight loss. If he shows signs, we will conduct lab tests to determine if he has this condition and discuss treatment options with you. Treatment requires a serious commitment of time and resources. Well regulated diabetic dogs today have the same life expectancy as other canines.
Not many things have as dramatic an impact on your dog’s quality of life as the proper functioning of his eyes. Unfortunately, Miniature Poodles can inherit or develop a number of different eye conditions, some of which may cause blindness if not treated right away, and most of which can be extremely painful! We will evaluate his eyes at every examination to look for any signs of concern.
Heart failure is a leading cause of death among Miniature Poodles in their golden years. Most heart disease in dogs is caused by weakening of a valve. A heart valve slowly becomes deformed so that it no longer closes tightly. Blood then leaks back around this valve and strains the heart. Pets with heart valve disease (sometimes called mitral valve disease) have a heart murmur. If your dog has a heart murmur or outward signs suggesting heart problems, we’ll perform testing to determine the severity of the disease. The same tests will need to be repeated at least every year to monitor the condition. If heart valve disease is diagnosed early, we may be able to prescribe medications that could prolong his life for many years. Veterinary dental care and fatty acid supplementation can help prevent heart disease and weight control can help diminish symptoms.
Bone and Joint Problems
A number of different musculoskeletal problems have been reported in Miniature Poodles. While it may seem overwhelming, each condition can be diagnosed and treated to prevent undue pain and suffering. With diligent observation at home and knowledge about the diseases that may affect your friend’s bones, joints, or muscles you will be able to take great care of him throughout his life.
Young Miniature Poodles may be prone to a painful degenerative hip condition called Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease. The exact cause of this condition is still not completely understood, but it is thought to be a problem with blood supply to the hip, which causes the femoral head (the top of the thigh bone) to become brittle and easily fracture. Ouch! Usually occurring between six and nine months of age, it causes pain and lameness in one or both rear legs, and often requires surgery.
Sometimes your Poodle’s kneecap (patella) may slip out of place (called patellar luxation). You might notice that he runs along and suddenly picks up a back leg and skips or hops for a few strides. Then he kicks his leg out sideways to pop the kneecap back in place, and he’s fine again. If the problem is mild and involves only one leg, your friend may not require much treatment beyond arthritis medication. When symptoms are severe, surgery may be needed to realign the kneecap to keep it from popping out of place.
There are several types of inherited bleeding disorders which occur in dogs. They range in severity from very mild to very severe. Many times a pet seems normal until a serious injury occurs or surgery is performed, and then severe bleeding can result. Minature Poodles are particularly prone to some relatively rare diseases of the blood.
Hemolytic Anemia and Thrombocytopenia occurs when the immune system goes haywire and starts attacking the pet’s own red blood cells or platelets. If the immune system destroys red blood cells, your dog quickly becomes anemic, weak, and lethargic. His gums will look whitish or yellow instead of the normal bright pink color. If the immune system destroys platelets, his blood won’t clot properly and he’ll have bruises or abnormal bleeding. We’ll perform diagnostic testing for blood clotting to check for these problems before we perform any surgeries. To slow or stop the immune system’s destruction of cells, we’ll prescribe steroids and other immune-suppressive drugs. Sometimes an emergency transfusion of red blood cells or platelets is needed.
Von Willebrand’s disease is a blood clotting disorder frequently found in Minature Poodles. We’ll conduct diagnostic testing for blood clotting time or a specific DNA blood test for Von Willebrand’s disease or other similar disorders to check for this problem before we perform surgery.
Multiple Skin Problems
Your Miniature Poodle is susceptible to different kinds of skin infections and diseases. One of them is caused by yeast (Malassezia dermatitis). When it infects the ears, it causes itching, redness, and an accumulation of brown waxy discharge. On the skin, it leads to greasy, hairless areas, especially on the neck and throat, with a characteristic odor. Another common skin disease called seborrhea can cause dry, flaky skin or greasy, oily skin. These diseases make your pet itchy and uncomfortable. Bathing with special shampoos and rinses may be helpful, and we’ll treat any underlying problems such as allergies. The earlier you call to have his skin problems checked, the less likely it is that you will end up caring for an itchy, bald, smelly dog.
Several neurologic diseases can afflict Miniature Poodles. Symptoms of neurological problems can include seizures, imbalance, tremors, weakness, or excess sleeping. If you notice any of these symptoms, please seek immediate veterinary care.
There are three types of seizures in dogs: reactive, secondary, and primary. Reactive seizures are caused by the brain’s reaction to a metabolic problem like low blood sugar, organ failure, or a toxin. Secondary seizures are the result of a brain tumor, stroke, or trauma. If no other cause can be found, the disease is called primary, or idiopathic epilepsy. This problem is often an inherited condition, with Miniature Poodles commonly afflicted. If your friend is prone to seizures, they will usually begin between six months and three years of age. An initial diagnostic workup may help find the cause. Lifelong medication is usually necessary to help keep seizures under control, with periodic blood testing required to monitor side effects and effectiveness. If your dog has a seizure: Carefully prevent him from injuring himself, but don’t try to control his mouth or tongue. It won’t help him, and he may bite you accidentally! Note the length of the seizure, and call us or an emergency hospital.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a fairly rare autoimmune disease caused by the dog’s immune system fighting itself. This results in chronic inflammation of skin, joints, and internal organs, sometimes leading to death in severe cases. Poodles are more commonly affected, with signs beginning in middle age, around three to seven years old. There is no cure, but medications can help manage symptoms. Sunlight can cause flare-ups, so avoid sunlight exposure or use a dog safe sunscreen on sensitive parts like ears and noses.
Bladder or Kidney Stones
There are a few different types of stones that can form in the kidney or in the bladder, and Miniature Poodles are more likely to develop them than other breeds. We’ll periodically test his urine for telltale signs indicating the presence of kidney and bladder stones; they are painful! If your buddy has blood in his urine, can’t urinate, or is straining to urinate, it is a medical emergency. Call us immediately!
Cancer is a leading cause of death in older dogs. Your Miniature Poodle will likely live longer than many other breeds and therefore is more prone to get cancer in his golden years. Many cancers are cured by surgically removing them, and some types are treatable with chemotherapy. Early detection is critical! We’ll perform periodic diagnostic tests and look for lumps and bumps when we examine your pet.
Your Miniature Poodle is more likely than other dogs to have a liver disorder called portosystemic shunt (PSS). Some of the blood supply that should go to the liver goes around it instead, depriving the liver of the blood flow it needs to grow and function properly. If your friend has PSS, his liver cannot remove toxins from his bloodstream effectively. To check for this problem, we’ll conduct a liver function test in addition to a standard pre-anesthetic panel every time he undergoes anesthesia. If he develops symptoms such as stunted growth or seizures, we’ll test his blood and possibly conduct an ultrasound scan of his liver. Surgery may be needed, but in some cases, we can treat with a special diet and medication.
There are several inherited conditions that can cause on-going vomiting, diarrhea, or weight loss in your Poodle. These include diseases of the pancreas and intestines, plus food sensitivities or allergies. Some of these problems start very early in life. To help prevent symptoms, feed a high-quality pet food that we recommend. Most importantly, avoid snacks and table food. Treats that are high in fat (like people food), sodium, or artificial ingredients are bad for your buddy’s digestion.
The trachea, or windpipe, is made up of rings of cartilage, making it look something like a vacuum cleaner’s ridged hose. Just as in the hose, this structure provides flexibility and strength. In Miniature Poodles, the cartilage rings are sometimes weak or have formed incorrectly. The trachea can collapse and become too narrow, which leads to coughing and difficulty breathing. Most cases of tracheal collapse are mild and are treated symptomatically with medication. When symptoms are severe, surgery may be an option.
Teeth abnormalities are often genetically induced and are relatively common in dogs, especially in purebred dogs like your Poodle. An overbite or underbite is called a malocclusion, or a bad bite. Oligodontia is a condition where only a few teeth are present. Misaligned teeth can also occur and cause lots of problems, but can usually be corrected with braces or extractions. (Yes, dogs can get braces!) We want to keep your buddy’s teeth healthy so we will be watching his developing teeth closely.
Taking Care of Your Miniature Poodle at Home
Much of what you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy is common sense, just like it is for people. Watch her diet, make sure she gets plenty of exercise, regularly brush her teeth and coat, and call us or a pet emergency hospital when something seems unusual (see “What to Watch For” below). Be sure to adhere to the schedule of examinations and vaccinations that we recommend for her. This is when we’ll give her the necessary “check-ups” and test for diseases and conditions that are common in Poodles. Another very important step in caring for your pet is signing up for pet health insurance. There will certainly be medical tests and procedures she will need throughout her life and pet health insurance will help you cover those costs.
Routine Care, Diet, and Exercise
Build her routine care into your schedule to help your Miniature Poodle live longer, stay healthier, and be happier during her lifetime. We cannot overemphasize the importance of a proper diet and exercise routine.
- Supervise your pet as you would a toddler. Keep doors closed, pick up after yourself, and block off rooms as necessary. This will keep her out of trouble and away from objects she shouldn’t put in her mouth.
- Daily brushing and regular grooming is needed every 6-8 weeks to keep her coat beautiful.
- Miniature Poodles often have serious problems with their teeth, so you’ll need to brush them at least three times a week!
- Clean her ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—we’ll show you how!
- She is well suited to apartment life as long as she is given daily walks and frequent play sessions.
- She loves the water. Swimming is a great form of exercise for your Miniature Poodle.
- She is highly intelligent and can be taught to perform a variety of tricks to keep her mentally stimulated.
- Keep your dog’s diet consistent and don’t give her people food.
- Feed a high-quality diet appropriate for her age.
- Exercise your dog regularly, but don’t overdo it at first.
What to Watch For
Any abnormal symptom could be a sign of serious disease, or it could just be a minor or temporary problem. The important thing is to be able to tell when to seek veterinary help, and how urgently. Many diseases cause dogs to have a characteristic combination of symptoms, which together can be a clear signal that your Miniature Poodle needs help.
Give us a call for an appointment if you notice any of these types of signs:
- Change in appetite or water consumption
- Tartar build-up, bad breath, red gums, or broken teeth
- Itchy skin (scratching, chewing, or licking), hair loss
- Lethargy, mental dullness, or excessive sleeping
- Fearfulness, aggression, or other behavioral changes
Seek medical care immediately if you notice any of these types of signs:
- Scratching or shaking the head, tender ears, or ear discharge
- Inability or straining to urinate; discolored urine
- Cloudiness, redness, itching, or any other abnormality involving the eyes
- Drinks and urinates more, eats more, potbelly, poor haircoat
- Increased hunger and thirst, weight loss
- Coughing, especially at night or upon rising after sleeping, rapid breathing at rest
- Gums that are a color other than bright pink
- Slow or stunted growth; sometimes seizures after eating
- On-going vomiting, weight loss, and/or diarrhea
Partners in Health Care
DNA testing is a rapidly advancing field with new tests constantly emerging to help in the diagnosis of inherited diseases before they can become a problem for your friend. For the most up-to-date information on DNA and other screening tests available for your pal, visit www.Genesis4Pets.com.
Your Poodle counts on you to take good care of her, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that she lives a long and healthy life. Our goal is to provide the best health care possible: health care that’s based on her breed, lifestyle, and age. Please contact us when you have questions or concerns.
- Ackerman L. The Genetic Connection: A Guide to Health Problems in Purebred Dogs. Second edition. AAHA Press; 2011.
- Bell JS, Cavanagh KE, Tilley LP, Smith FW. Veterinary medical guide to dog and cat breeds. Jackson, Wyoming. Teton New Media; 2012.
- Gough A, Thomas A. Breed Predispositions to Disease in Dogs and Cats. 2nd Edition. Wiley-Blackwell; 2010.
- Crook A, Dawson S, Cote E, MacDonald S, Berry J. Canine Inherited Disorders Database [Internet]. University of Prince Edward Island. 2011. [cited 2013 Apr 11]. Available from: http://ic.upei.ca/cidd/breed/poodle-miniature
- Breed Specific Health Concerns [Internet]. American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Inc. [cited 2013 Apr 11]. Available from: http://www.akcchf.org/canine-health/breed-specific-concerns/?breed=miniature-poodle
10 to 15 inches
15 to 16 pounds
Candidate for most intelligent breed of dog.
Extremely willing to please.
Happy, lively, and playful.
Friendly and outgoing.
Poodles love everybody.
An excellent family dog for those who are prepared to maintain the coat.
The Poodle originated in Germany as a water retriever. Pudel means water in German. Today there are three sizes: toy, miniature and standard. All sizes are judged by the same standard of perfection and are identical in every respect except height and weight. The miniature, middle of the three varieties, is a miniaturized version of the Standard. It is thought that the Miniature Poodle was not used for sporting purposes. It was, instead, the pampered darling of the French nobility. Some were used as truffle hunters because of their trainability and good noses. They have gained renown as performers in the circus ring. Today, the Miniature version is the most popular of the Poodles. It is one of the most popular dogs in the whole world.
A squarely-built, active dog that carries itself with dignity.
Standard does not specify weight but given weight is an average.
Hanging ears are not altered.
Upright tail is carried at an angle to the body. It is docked.
The long coat of the poodle is double. The outercoat is wiry curls. The undercoat is thick and woolly.
unhindered, the outercoat forms thin cylindrical mats known as cords. Corded Poodles are rarely seen in the United States because they are difficult to keep clean.
Any solid color is permitted. Common colors are black, white, apricot, brown, blue, or silver.
The skin color of Poodles varies. Skin may be pink, blue, silver, or cream.
Requires professional grooming every five or six weeks.
Two clips are allowed in the United States show ring: the Continental and the English Saddle. Puppies are exempted from this and can be shown in a puppy clip (their hair isn’t long enough to accommodate the adult clips) until they are one-year old.
The face, feet, and base of tail are shaved in all the clips.
A full coat may take two years to develop.
Health and Wellness
The immense popularity of this breed has resulted in many genetic defects.
Autoimmune thyroid disease.
Patent ductus areteriosis.
Tetralogy of Fallot.
von Willebrand’s disease.
Urolithiasis (oxalate and struvite).
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA).
Immune mediated thrombocytopenia (IMT).
Progressive retinal atrophy.
Cushing’s syndrome (PDH and AT).
Intervertebral disc disease.
What You Should Know
In spite of the name, the French Poodle is not Gallic. It is a breed made in Germany.
The pompoms and topknots of the Poodle, which seem so frivolous, had a utilitarian origin. As water retrievers, Poodles needed the chest and head hair to protect vital organs from the cold. The pompoms are placed on the joints to protect them from becoming arthritic.
Victorian merchants often had advertisements cut into the coat of a Poodle, and hired someone to walk around with the dog. Sort of a living billboard.
Grooming contests attract international teams, clipping Poodles into artistic creations. Prizes are in the thousands of dollars.
Poodles are beautiful and they know it. You might even describe them as vain.
Love to be pampered, and it is easy to spoil these adorable clowns.
Does not shed.
Suggested for allergy sufferers.