Poodles and the Quest for the Perfect Family Dog

Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM

POODLE WITH A PACIFIER

Poodles are among the breeds that have won the hearts of many dog owners. This intelligent and affectionate dog breed comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard.

So, size isn’t much of an issue with poodles; but are they a great canine choice for families?

Poodles make perfect family dogs because they are intelligent, active, patient, playful, and have a gentle temperament. They’re also loyal and eager to please, making them easy to train. In addition, poodles are alert and quick to warn you if something’s wrong. They’re also low shedders and hypoallergenic, so you don’t have to worry about allergies.

Let’s take a comprehensive look at poodles and help you in your quest for the perfect family dog.

Using my background in veterinary medicine, I’ll walk you through their relationship with kids, senior citizens, cats, and other dogs, as well as their size and the amount of living space they need. So, keep reading.

Are They Good With Kids?

Generally, when it comes to parenting, the safety of one’s kids comes first.

And a parent’s choice of a pup depends on how well the particular breed gets along with kids. So, are poodles good with kids?

Regardless of their size, poodles are generally energetic, athletic, and playful. That’s why they can be a good match for families with kids.

POODLE PUPPY SMILING

Plus, since poodles were initially bred as watchdogs, they possess some protective instincts, meaning they can go the extra mile to protect your kids from intruders and other impending threats.

Among the different poodle sizes, standard poodles are a perfect match for kids because they’re more patient.

Moreover, they’re not very small, so they can easily withstand the kid’s rough-and-tumble plays. 

However, despite being patient, standard poodles are full of energy and love to jump; hence may unintentionally knock down toddlers and small babies.

But you can tame the tendency to jump on kids when excited through obedience training.

Miniature poodles also get along well with kids under an adult’s supervision.

They’re a bit smaller in height than standard poodles but are large enough for kids not to hurt them easily. 

Their ideal height makes them a good match for kids of all ages.

These tiny pups are also very affectionate, and you’re likely to find them cuddling with your kids on the couch.

Such a heartwarming scene to walk into, right?

As for toy poodles, the smallest of this breed, they can be sensitive to noise and may not be comfortable around noisy children, especially hyperactive toddlers.

Additionally, their small size makes them vulnerable as kids can easily hurt them during rough games. 

Toy poodles are also not as patient as other poodles. They have a reputation for snapping at children as a form of defense whenever they feel threatened.

Therefore, these pups are least recommended for families with smaller kids.

However, you can foster a good relationship between the duo through the tips below:

  • Introduce your poodle to kids early enough, if possible, during their puppyhood.
  • Consistent training. Ensure you teach your pup how to practice good habits around kids. Teach your poodle some basic commands, such as stop, lie, and sit, which your kids can use to manage the poodle’s irritative behavior. Additionally, train your poodle to refrain from kids’ toys and other personal items as a way of maintaining boundaries.
  • Don’t forget to “train” your kids too. Training one party doesn’t help much with creating a thriving relationship. Therefore, make an effort to teach your kids how to handle the poodles, especially the toy and miniature poodles that come in a small size. Let your kids know that pulling a puppy’s ears or tail, frightening them, or startling them when eating or sleeping isn’t allowed.
  • Include positive reinforcement in your training. When training the two parties, incorporate a few treats and rewards for each. Reward the poodle or your kids when they behave well around each other. You can use verbal praises, claps, or treats. Consider reducing the treats, rewards, or praises as their bond grows stronger.

Babies

poodle on the park

Now that we know poodles are generally good with kids let’s look at how they get along with small babies.

Since these pups are cuddly, affectionate, and gentle, they’re likely to get along well with babies.

However, before bringing that charming poodle home, it’s important to note that they’re vocal.

Poodles have strong watchdog instincts and tend to let out loud barks to notify their families of impending danger.

Unfortunately, these noisy, loud barks can wake babies from their slumber or make them scared and fussy.

Infants aren’t comfortable with loud barks, making poodles less suitable for families with small babies.

However, since they’re intelligent and easy to train, you can teach them to control their loud barks.

Additionally, toy poodles are sensitive to noise and may be irritated by a baby’s cry or sounds.

If that happens, they may end up snapping on your infant, making them less ideal for families with babies.

Puppy poodles get along well with babies. They’re less likely to hurt them.

And luckily, since puppies are still in their early stages of training, it’s easier for them to learn how to bond with babies faster than their adult counterparts.

However, these two attention-craving creatures should only interact under your supervision.

As for adult poodles, they can be a little hesitant at first, especially if they aren’t used to being around babies.

However, with the proper training, consistency of interactions, and patience, they’ll eventually bond with your baby.

To make sure your puppy and baby get along, introduce the pup to the baby while still in the puppyhood stage.

However, if you already have an adult dog in your house, you can help build a safe relationship through obedience training and controlled/supervised interactions. 

Helping Your Poodle Adjust to a New Baby

Poodles are social dogs that thrive by interacting with humans. That’s why they crave attention from their owners.

POODLE WITH A BALL

And while they aren’t as possessive as other breeds, such as Frenchies, they’re likely to get jealous of new babies.

A common mistake among first-time parents is that they wait until the baby is born to make the introduction.

A safer course of action is to prepare your dog before the baby comes into this world. This way, your poodle has enough time to adjust.

Wondering how you can do that? Here are a few handy tips:

  • Enroll your poodle in obedience training classes. Whether you’re dealing with a puppy or an adult dog, it’s advisable to enroll them in obedience training classes. Training helps canines develop good behaviors, and they’ll interact better with the newborn.
  • Introduce them to babies. If your poodle has been your only ‘baby,’ it’s now the ideal time to introduce them to human babies. Try inviting your friends who have babies over to your house to familiarize your pup with babies. Additionally, you can take them to parks where there are babies around.
  • Introduce them to baby items. Such items include bassinets, baby cot, and toys, to mention a few. Let your poodle sniff the items to their satisfaction. The aim is to reduce curiosity once the baby arrives. Plus, when the baby does come, introduce your dog to their belongings, such as their used blanket or bib.
  • Initiate changes. If you’re going to change your house’s typical setting, do it before the baby comes. For example, if you’ll change your pup’s sleeping or feeding area, do it early enough to give them time to adjust.
  • Engage your poodle in baby-related activities. While it’s normal to divert most of your attention to your newborn, don’t forget your canine companion. Try engaging them in baby-related activities such as taking walks, bathing, and feeding. This way, your poodle will learn some baby language and learn to coexist with the baby without aggressively fighting for your attention and time.

Toddlers

Toddlers are known to be curious, noisy, and hyperactive. Therefore families with toddlers aim at getting dogs that are patient enough to keep up with their toddlers. 

poodle with a kid

When it comes to poodles, the standard and miniature varieties are ideal for families with toddlers.

They’re full of energy and playful, making them a perfect match for hyperactive toddlers.

Additionally, they come in a perfect size, so toddlers can’t hurt them easily.

However, despite these poodles being good play-buddies for your toddlers, you should teach your toddler things to avoid when interacting with poodles.

These include:

  • Pulling the dog’s tails and ears
  • Riding on a poodle’s back
  • Yelling or making loud noises
  • Pinching the dog
  • Startling a poodle while sleeping or feeding

What’s more, you should exhaustively train your poodle to be on their best behavior when interacting with toddlers.

However, regardless of the bond between your toddler and a poodle, always supervise their interactions.

Toy poodles are, however, not ideal for families with toddlers. Since they’re tiny, they can be easily hurt.

Additionally, some standard poodles may be too big for your toddler.

So, the miniature poodles seem like a perfect choice for families with toddlers.

Older Kids

Older kids can get along well with all poodles. Besides being the best play buddies, poodles can also help older kids learn pet-related duties such as grooming and feeding.

And since different poodles have different temperaments, it’s good to create rules for your kids to ensure the relationship thrives.

Some of these rules can include:

  • Don’t make loud noises or yell at the dog, especially toy poodles, which are highly sensitive to noise.
  • Don’t jump on the poodle’s back.
  • Avoid hitting, biting, or pinching the poodle.
  • Don’t pull the poodle’s tail or ears.
  • Avoid running at the poodle. It’s good to approach them slowly.
  • Don’t disturb the poodle while eating or sleeping.
POODLE ON A BED

Is the Poodle the Right Size for Your Family?

The different sizes of poodles, toy, miniature, and standard come in various weights and stature giving you the chance to choose one that’s a perfect fit for your family.

The toy poodle is the smallest of the three, standing at about 10 in (25 cm) tall and weighing about 6-9 lbs (2.7-4 kg).

On the other hand, the miniature version reaches 11-15 in (28-38 cm) and an average weight of 15-17 lbs (6.8-7.8 kg).

And lastly, the standard poodle, which is the tallest of this breed, stands around 15-22 in (38-56 cm), with the males weighing 45-70 lbs (20-32 kg) while the females weigh 45-60 lbs (20-27 kg).

So, based on the height and weight of these different varieties, it’s clear that the toy and miniature poodles have an ideal stature for kids to groom.

If you adopt either of these, you can share the grooming, feeding, bathing, walking, and exercising responsibilities with your older kids.

However, the standard poodle is a medium-sized breed that may be heavy for kids.

Therefore, it may not be advisable to involve your kids in grooming, feeding, carrying, and walking them.

Generally, if you want to teach your kids responsibility from a young age, go for a toy or miniature poodle.

Depending on the parent breed, a standard poodle may be too big for an elementary school kid.

How Much Living Space Does the Poodle Need?

Given their dimensions, poodles don’t require ample living space. As a result, toy and miniature poodles are good apartment dogs.

And due to their highly adaptable nature, they can quickly adapt to any lifestyle.

They adjust to any living space available. However, a standard poodle may need a lot of living space.

Also, poodles do well as indoor dogs. This is because they’re social canines and flourish when around humans.

As a result, keeping them in a kennel or outdoor spaces causes separation anxiety, making them aggressive.

Can Poodles Cause Allergies?

GIRL SNEEZING

Poodles are hypoallergenic, which is one of the reasons they’re so popular.

Although a few people could be allergic to poodles, this breed is less likely to trigger allergic reactions when compared to other canines.

Poodles come as a light shedding breed compared to other dogs.

However, they still produce a considerable amount of dander and saliva that can trigger allergic reactions in highly sensitive individuals.

Do They Bark a Lot?

Poodles were initially bred as watchdogs, and thus they tend to bark at strangers or alert their owners when something isn’t quite right.

Although they don’t bark excessively, their loud barks can wake babies from their slumber or irritate noise-sensitive seniors.

However, their barks shouldn’t keep you from adopting them.

Given that they’re easy to train, you can control their barks by engaging them in training classes.

Are Poodles Aggressive?

Poodles aren’t naturally aggressive. They’re a patient breed that gets along well with adults and children.

However, when provoked or threatened, they can be aggressive.

Here are some of the things that may trigger their aggression:

  • Disturbing them when eating or sleeping
  • Pinching them or jumping on their back
  • Pulling their tail and ears
  • Yelling at them
  • Invading their space

What About Families With Seniors?

Poodles are ideal for families with seniors. These canines are good companion dogs meaning the seniors won’t be lonely.

Additionally, they’re easy to train, which means you can quickly instill ideal behavior to foster a good relationship with the elderly.

These canine companions like walking between people’s feet.

Given the toy and miniature poodle’s small size, they rarely cause trampling.

However, standard poodles can sometimes grow big and cause trampling for the weak seniors.

Additionally, these pups tend to jump on people when they get excited but rarely cause tramping except for the standard poodles.

poodle puppy

Do They Get Along With Other Dogs?

Poodles tend to get along well with other dogs. However, they require training to curb troublesome behavior.

You also need to be patient with them since they may be hesitant to interact with other dogs.

However, given their small stature, you should avoid mixing them with large dog breeds such as German Shepherd, American Bulldog, Afghan Hound, and Belgian Sheepdog, to mention a few.

These bigger breeds may easily hurt your fragile poodle.

And since poodles are social dogs, you may consider mixing them with other poodles to reduce boredom.

They’re open to socializing and living with other breeds, provided they aren’t too big and boisterous.

Are They Good With Cats?

Yes, poodles are good with cats, but since different pups and felines have varying temperaments, you need to take caution when introducing the duo.

Let them interact only under your supervision until they grow fond of each other.

Although they both may be hesitant at first, their interaction will eventually thrive over time.

Their protective instincts may even kick in once they bond.

They take over the responsibility of protecting the cat from impending danger and intruders.

Conclusion

Poodles not only boast their gentle and affectionate personality but are also highly intelligent and easy to train.

Additionally, their perfect combination of small size, smooth puffy fur, low shedding, and patience make them ideal cuddly companions for their owners.

It’s easy to fall in love with a poodle’s unique traits.

However, before bringing one home, you should consider your lifestyle, the size of your house, your family members, especially kids and senior citizens, and your other pets.

These are some of the vital factors that will help you determine whether poodles are the perfect canine for your family.

POODLE ON A FOREST

References

Click here to read my one-page Poodle parent’s guide

Marcelle Landestoy

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