Poodle grooming can seem daunting at first, but with the right instruction and tools for the job, you’ll soon find your feet. For your Poodle’s safety and your sanity, it may be a good idea to start out by doing basic coat maintenance at home and take your Poodle to a professional grooming salon for more involved clips. Later, as you feel more confident, you may decide you are ready to learn to do some Poodle clips yourself.
These smart, social dogs can effortlessly make the “best dressed” canine list year after year, without even lifting a paw! But the many challenges of Poodle grooming have redirected more than a few aspiring owners to choose a lower maintenance dog breed. The truth is, keeping that lush, curly coat free of tangles and mats can be a big job.
Is Poodle Grooming Different Between The Breeds?
The Poodle first became an official American Kennel Club (AKC) registered breed back in 1887. As of today, the dog breed known as the Poodle is bred in three sizes: toy, miniature and standard, and is currently ranked as the 7th most popular dog nationwide. And their coats get a lot of attention, especially when they match a certain style.
There are several different coat clips, including “puppy,” “sporting,” “saddle,” “English saddle,” and “Continental.” But since Poodles sporting different coat clips can look very different from one another, it can be quite easy to think you are looking at two totally different dog breeds rather than simply admiring two Poodles with different haircuts!
To add to the confusion, Poodles are now being crossbred with other dog breeds to produce popular so-called “designer dogs.” You can get Cockapoos, Maltipoos, Peekapoos and even Shih Poos too! But beyond it all, there is still just one purebred Poodle dog breed.
The basic Poodle grooming guidelines you will read about here apply equally to all purebred Poodle dogs.
Poodle Hair Basics
Poodles are smart, active, agile, easy to train, eager to learn, outgoing and people-pleasers. They are also as close to being a non-shedding, hypoallergenic dog as any dog gets.
In theory, Poodles are the type of pet dog everyone wants! So why doesn’t everyone have a Poodle? The answer is simple: their high-maintenance coat. Poodle hair is notoriously grooming-intensive.
Even if you don’t go in for elaborate grooming styles, the Poodle’s naturally curly fur requires near-constant brushing, clipping and trimming to maintain.
Neglect your Poodle’s coat, and you could wind up at the veterinarian paying top dollar to treat painful skin infections. You could also end up with a bald Poodle, since too-long-neglected coats often have to be shorn fully (here, think “sheep”) to remove all the mats and tangles without damaging the dog’s sensitive skin.
Poodle Grooming Tips
These are essential facts about Poodle coats and coat maintenance that every would-be Poodle owner should know:
- Poodle fur is really hair – it is softer than most dogs’ fur and it grows continuously.
- Puppies have very soft hair that often grows in wavy instead of curly.
- Poodle hair transitions from puppy hair to adult Poodle hair somewhere between 9 and 18 months of age.
- Some Poodles don’t grow into their full adult coat until they reach three years old!
- They do shed, but their curly adult hair traps the shed hair so it doesn’t fall out. Instead, this shed hair develops into mats and tangles unless continuously groomed.
- Adult Poodles have a thick, dense, coarse, single-layer coat of very curly hair that ranges from soft curls (called “curly”) to near-ringlets (called “corded”).
- Professional grooming at least every 3 to 6 weeks is highly recommended for adult dogs.
- Near-daily brushing and combing is recommended for maintenance, unless your coat clip of choice is “shaved.”
Poodle Grooming Styles
One look at a Poodle in full show coat trim, and the uninitiated will rightly wonder what practical purpose all those poufs and pompoms could possibly have! Today’s show cuts are made up of nearly equal parts practical and fanciful.
The practical parts reflect a past need to keep hunting poodles visible to their owners (topknot), yet lightweight (body partially shaved) while they were working as talented hunting “water dogs.” The fanciful parts owe their existence to bored French noblemen, who liked to trim their poodles’ fur to look just like their own elaborate pompadours.
Otherwise, the same show and daily hair clips and grooming basics apply equally for standard Poodle grooming, miniature Poodle grooming and toy Poodle grooming.
The two acceptable grooming styles for adult Poodles (of any size) in regular class Westminster-level shows are called the “English Saddle” and the “Continental.” These two styles are similar in appearance, with the latter being more heavily shaved along the hindquarters.
Luckily, in addition to these two ornate show styles, you also have plenty of other Poodle grooming styles to choose from. For example, these popular styles are easier, faster and much more practical for the modern-day Poodle’s daily life.
There are several different clips you might like to try on your dog:
Poodles aged 12 months or younger often wear this clip, with face, feet and tail shaved and the remainder scissor-clipped. A topknot is optional.
All fur is clipped to the same short length, leaving the Poodle looking like he is wearing a warm fuzzy bathrobe….or a sheep’s fuzzy wool coat.
Teddy bear clip
As the name suggests, this clip leaves your Poodle looking less like a Poodle and more like a classic teddy bear, with hair evenly clipped throughout.
Bikini clip (aka the “Miami clip”)
Fur is shaved on the tail, face and feet with the remaining fur trimmed to a uniform length as desired.
Kennel clip (aka the “utility clip”)
This functional working clip features a topknot and tail pouf, with the remaining fur scissor-clipped to a uniform length except for the face and feet.
Town and country clip
The belly, face, neck and feet are shaved. The remaining fur is left long.
Poodle Grooming Tools
Unless you plan to show your Poodle, you don’t need to go all out with fancy Poodle grooming clips. You can opt for an easier-to-maintain, straightforward clip that you can learn to do yourself, such as one of those described in the previous section here.
The same basic grooming tools are used for standard, miniature and toy Poodle grooming styles. In the same way, learning how to groom a Miniature Poodle uses the same basic set of steps as learning to groom a toy or standard Poodle.
As well, even if you plan to take your Poodle to the groomer’s regularly, you will still need to acquire some basic supplies and tools for at-home coat brushing and maintenance.
Gentle dog-safe shampoo
The best kinds of dog shampoo* are hypoallergenic for sensitive skin.
To keep mats and tangles to a minimum invest in some good dog conditioner*.
Electric shaver with razer and comb attachments
You’ll need a clipper set* to groom and trim large areas of fur.
Slicker brushes* help to remove mats, tangles, shed hair. We are big fans of the hertzko slicker brush, but you can find lots more options in the slicker brush section below too.
Bristle brushes* are great for grooming out tangle and attaining mat-free coat hair. This is a popular choice, but you’ll find more further down the article as well.
To trim around sensitive areas and remove big tangles and mats you’ll need some good Poodle grooming scissors*.
A good dog hair dryer* can be great for drying hair before/after grooming as needed for styling.
Grooming table with arm attachment and noose
For your Poodle’s safety, the use of a full grooming table and restraint noose* is recommended.
Best Brush for Poodles
Choosing the best brush for Poodle hair requires at least two different kinds of poodle brush, a bristle brush and a slicker brush for Poodles. The slicker brush is used first, to remove mats, tangles and shed-out hair. It is important to brush gently when you are using the slicker brush, so as not to abrade your Poodle’s sensitive skin.
After all the tangles and mats are worked out, the bristle brush is then used to brush out de-tangled and de-matted hair. Here again, gentle but firm, consistent brushing will deliver the softest, smoothest coat without injuring your Poodle’s delicate skin.
Pro Quality Self Cleaning Slicker Brush for Dogs
You can buy this pro-quality, gentle slicker brush* in small/medium or medium/large sizes in green or blue. The neatest aspect of this brush is the self-cleaning button: one push and hair is ejected for fast clean up. The manufacturer includes a free e-book on grooming and a 5-year warranty.
Chris Christensen Big K Slicker Brush
This brush* is highly recommended by Poodle groomers and comes in a variety of sizes for small and large Poodles. It includes 40 percent more pins and is designed to help penetrate the deepest layers of thick, curly coats and then help shape and style the chosen clip.
Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush
This extremely popular and highly rated self-cleaning slicker brush* has a one-button eject feature that makes clean up fast and easy. The handle is comfy and anti-slip for safety and the wires are fine and bend easily to ensure your dog’s skin won’t be harmed.
Bristle brush for Poodles
Bristle brushes are another great choice.
GoPets Professional Double Sided Pin & Bristle Brush
This popular orange and black pin and bristle brush* is two-sided for long and short hair. The handle is made of no-slip silicone for a comfy customized fit. The bristles have rounded ends to ensure safety while grooming.
Wahl Large Pin Bristle Brush for Dogs
This soft bristle pin brush* is two-sided for short and long coats and coat areas. It works well to make the coat soft and smooth. Wahl also makes a large slicker brush* that is popular with Poodle owners if you prefer to purchase a combo slicker/bristle brush set.
Chris Christensen Oval Pin Brush
This brush* comes highly recommended by Poodle owners and groomers for its extra-long bristles with polished tips. They gently work their way down to the lowest level of the curly, thick Poodle coat.
Poodle Puppy Grooming
If you can remember back to any of your significant “firsts,” such as first haircut or first dentist visit, you may remember feeling some hesitation or even outright fear. Your Poodle puppy won’t feel any differently for his “firsts.”
There may be curiosity, hesitation or even fear, but you don’t ever want your Puppy to feel outright terror. However, for many puppies, the first visit to the groomer is the “first” most likely to provoke exactly that.
Many experienced groomers say it isn’t actually the grooming itself that scares Poodle pups. It is the presentation of the grooming TOOLS. Those sharp, shiny gizmos and gadgets, some of which make super-loud noises and move in strange ways, can strike terror into even the staunchest puppy heart.
Especially when operated near sensitive areas such as eyes and ears.
So your job as official “Poodle puppy parent” will be to get your puppy ready for his first grooming session well in advance. By helping your puppy get used to the feeling of having his ears, eyes, nails, tail and teeth examined and worked on up close.
He will be much less inclined to freak out at the groomer’s and risk an injury. You can also make a visit or two to the groomer before your puppy is actually ready to be groomed for the first time.
This way, your puppy gets used to the sounds, sights and smells of the grooming experience. Be sure to bring plenty of treats so your puppy associates groomer visits with tasty snacks!
Affiliate link disclosure: Links in this article marked with an * are affiliate links, and we may receive a small commission if you purchase these products. However, we selected them for inclusion independently, and all of the views expressed in this article are our own.
Hi I rescued a toy poodle he is 3 years older I have try so many
Groomers around where I live and no one no how to cut he’s hair I am looking for someone who knows how to cut poodles hair can anyone help
Me where to find one I live in dutchess county thank you
Dear poodle community,
Please recommend a show groomer for our miniature poodle puppy in Los Angeles, Pasadena or Burbank area.
WILL BE DOING MY LITTLE 5LB POODLE SHE HAD EXP SHE GOT A BURN FROM THE CLIPPERS I WILL BE JUST USE SCISSORS I TESTED THE SOUND AND SHE TOOK OFF WILL NOT PUT HER THREW THAT AGAIN HAD TO TAKE HER TO THE VET GROOMER NEVER SAID A WORD SHE WAS NOT HER SELF FOR WEEK SHE HAD MED FOR IT VET TOLD ME FOR NO ONE TO USE CLIPPERS WHEN THEY GET HOT THEY DO BURN THEM.
With quarantine I am grooming my 2 labradoodles (waist height) amber and white soft, curly coats and my red toy poodle (shine height) coarse coat.
I am using the KM10 clippers – they are wonderful! Like cutting through soft butter for all three dogs. I purchased the different coloured combs attachments to use also. I use curved scissors for around the top of the head, nose and feet and straight scissors for the leg. Generally I go for the teddy bear cut.
I am struggling on what grooming table to get. As my labradoodles are too big for me to lift/carry to get the portable table which is most recommended. I find the electric or hydraulic ones are very expensive. Any suggestions?
Bruce Floria says
After a couple times on the table they jump on with the leash attached. Then you hook the lead from the table on the dog.
My dog gets terrible eye boogers. When I try to get them out he has a fit. The boogers get really stuck and it hurts him. Is there something I can do to get those nasty booger out?
I use human eye drops to soften the crust. Rub it gentle. Apply a few times if it gets in their eyes it’s safe. That should doit
Every morning I simply saturate a tissue or two with saline solution and clean my poodles eyes. I squeeze the solution on her eyes. She seems to like it. By saturating the ‘eye booger’ it simply wipes away.
G. C. says
Try distilled water. I was very skeptical and was told it could take several weeks, however we had great results within a week. Six weeks in and no more eye boogers!
Bruce Floria says
This is a little unorthodox but it worked with mine.
I take them out very gently with my fingers (or maybe just a piece) and give them to my dog as a treat.
At first I did it to show him what I was doing but he loved it so much that now he asks for them and loves to eat them. Gross, I know. But he is so happy, it works.
Also, I do it every morning so it doesn’t build up to the point it would hurt.
LOL …. I do the same thing. He loves them!!!!
are y’all kidding me….i’m dying….never thought about that 🤣 ima have to try…maybe 😁🤢
Greta James says
Thank you for explaining to me that the lamb cut makes it look like the poodle is wearing a nice wool coat. About a week ago, my sister adopted this beautiful poodle puppy. She is just the sweetest little thing. I want to make sure my sister takes good care of her, so I will have to show her you article and help her look for pet groomers in the area.
MANYA KULLMANN says
where did your sister adopt her puppy?
Betty Buchanan says
I have learned so much from every ones remarks and your information. Yes sign me up.
Can you use a furminator brush on poodles?
Husband cut 12 week standard poodle hair and used a clipper with no guard by mistake!! He is now mostly bald. I don’t know what to do to protect him and to encourage faster hair regrowth. Suggestions?
I can’t find a groomer that will clip my 2 toy poodle pups hair yet. They said to wait until the pups are 6 months old because it will ruin their coat. Why is this?
That’s weird. Usually they won’t do a full haircut because their hair is not fully developed but they can do a puppy trim which involves the face, pads, anal glands to get puppy used to haircuts. I took him when he was about 12 weeks. I also trim him here at home. I have all the supplies needed from Amazon. My puppy is used to it now because I started young.
Want to learn how to keep my minature poodle looking gorgeous! how can I learrn to clip..want the lamb trim. Is there a good book with lots of pictures..I do watch you tube but find them hard to copy.
John Blair says
I recently saw an article indicating that the “Modified Continental Clip” is legal for showing Poodles. I have been unable to find confirmation of this change. Any comments or location of confirmation.
Michael Shands says
If I understand correctly, the modified Continental Clip is the same as the Continental Clip without the hip rosettes. This is acceptable in an AKC sanctioned dog show. According to the Poodle breed standard, in the Continental Clip description: “The hindquarters are shaved with pompons (optional) on the hips.”
The MCC is a shorter/tighter trim of a full continental with one exception, the topknot. There are excellent articles on this trim in The Canine Chronicles as well as Poodle Variety (sold out). There is also a FB page for those who want to try this trim and need help. Several poodle groomers and handlers have videos to help. There have been many dogs finished in AKC in this trim over many years. My dog will be shown in this trim in 2021.
I would have liked to see examples of the different cuts mentioned.
I agree. I was looking for pictures, examples and directions for actual clipping. 🙁
Joyce Hosaflook says
What I did that worked very well for the reddish eye stains-got this tip from the breeder my puppies came from-I brushed my pups every single morning while drinking my coffee. I brush again in the later afternoon also. They loved it. I would always do the one first, the. When she was done, my other girl was waiting and would step up on my lap and sit for her brushing session. Think it feels good to them, especially when you’re keeping up with it and there are hardly, if any, tangles or matts.
Back to the important red stains. I would put their “make-up” on! ? It is just a small amount of Desitin that I gently and carefully put under their eyes with my little finger. Better yet, a tube of just plain Zinc Oxide with out stuff added. That was used in the olden days on the noses of life guards so their noses would not get burned, cheeks too. This method was 2 purpose, it covered Andy reddish stains and also coated the area so that that the tearing would stay of of the fur. With white or light colored doggies you cannot see it at. But his “make up” method would work on a darker dog but naturally be more noticeable. But then the reddish tear stains on darker fur is not as noticeable either. Sorry I took so long.
Kind regards and I hope this will helped some of you out there in “Puppy Land”. A good solution that works and is not expensive.
Heather Gwillim says
I have found that using filtered water for my poodle completely got rid of red staining. I just fill his bowl daily from my Brita water jug
Instead of using tap water. It took a couple of weeks to work but no more stain problems. May be worth a try.
I read about filtering my poodle’s water when I researching the poodle breed 6 years ago. My dog will be 6 years old and I know when it’s time to change the filter in my Brita water jug when my guy’s eyes start weeping. Heather is correct that it takes a couple of weeks.
Sandra Armstrong says
Thanks – I remember Desitin & Zinc Oxide. I can see why those, or different liquids, would work, I need to get a small hypoallergenic dog and it seems they all have eye stain problems. Yet another thing to consider!
Linna Lawrence says
I own a lovely Apricot Miniature Poodle that has lots of very fine soft hair. All of the tutorials I’ve been able to find are about poodles with courser, more compact coats, nothing on soft wavy coats…please help, I have all the tools needed but would appreciate some advice.
Beverley Smith says
Hi. I have a poodle cross with very soft fine fur and find many clippers can’t handle his fur. Can anyone recommend clippers suitable for this type of coat please? Thanks.
Wahl KM 10 clippers, cheapest on Amazon but they sell out fast when they have them in stock.
What number blades are used?
I like to keep my poodle short. I use a 15 on face, feet, and privets. Then I will use a 5F or 5FC depending on brand. I shave everything except his tail and topknot. I scissor his top knot and tail. I wash him and condition fluff dry go back over him with the 5F. I clean up any thing on feet face or privets that might have been missed and shape and scissor top knot and tail to get a nice clean finish. I started learning to groom when I was 14. I’m 33 now and only groom my dogs but vary glad I know how.
Du you wasch him before grooming
Linna Lawrence says
Definitely not. All the mats & tangles must be removed first or you will end up with double the mats & a grooming nightmare!
Paula Crawford says
I love this cut. It is very easy to maintain and washing is a breeze.
Marianne Byrd says
how do I attend to those black tears running down her nose? My white toy is my love, but keeping her groomed is a problem,
Avril Watson says
I find Diamond Eyes, are great for white dogs.