In this article we’re making friends with the bouffant and gorgeous tiny Toy Poodle.
Whether you’re already a fan, or if you’re holding back because they’re stereotyped as doggy divas, we’ve got all the Toy Poodle facts you need about this smart and surprising breed.
We’ll find out how they compare to their standard and miniature sized counterparts, and how to tell if they’re the perfect pet-match for you.
We’ll also cover everything you need to know about finding a Toy Poodle puppy. Paying the right price for them, and giving them the happiest, healthiest life possible.
The Toy Poodle breed
The first thing you need to know about the Toy Poodle breed is… it isn’t a breed!
In the USA, the UK and Australia, the debonair Poodle comes in three sizes: Standard Poodles, Miniature Poodles and Toy Poodles.
And these three sizes are all categories of the same breed – the Poodle – rather than distinct breeds in their own right.
In all respects other than size, all three sizes of Poodle aspire to meet the same breed standard, and should have the same physical characteristics and temperaments.
Toy Poodle size
So what is the magic tipping point when a Miniature Poodle becomes a Toy Poodle?
How big is a Toy Poodle?
By the American Kennel Club (AKC) definition, Toy Poodles are Poodles less than 10 inches (25cm) tall at the shoulders.
That puts them on the same scale as toy dog favories, Pugs and Shih Tzus.
In the show ring, where two Toy Poodles are equal in all other respects, the smaller dog will take the rosette.
Does that mean the tinier the better?
Downsizing dogs can be done safely, but like anything it can be dangerous when taken to extremes.
There has been an alarming trend in recent years towards creating a new generation of “teacup poodles”.
These ultra-petite Toy Poodle dogs are usually created by breeding litter runts together. And as a result they usually inherit a glut of health problems and die very young after a painful life.
In some countries (but not the US or the UK) kennel clubs have imposed a minimum height on Toy Poodles to curb demand for this inhumane practice.
Toy Poodle dog history
Let’s get back on track and return to healthy Toy Poodles: where did they come from and how long have they been around?
Poodles are often thought of as a quintessentially French dog, but they actually originate from Germany.
There they were originally bred as retrievers for fetching ducks and other waterfowl from the water.
Poodles are derived from Barbets – French water dogs which are still around today.
Barbets are pretty big, so unsurprisingly the Standard Poodle was the first size of Poodle to be recognized in it’s own right.
Miniature and Toy Poodles were created by gradually scaling down the Standard Poodle, first for specific hunting tasks, and then for companionship.
Toy Poodles aren’t a recent development, in fact they’re widely documented as far back as the 18th Century.
Toy Poodle personality
Toy Poodles really do bear the brunt of two unfair stereotypes. That Poodles are fussy and high maintenance, and that small dogs are, well, even more fussy and high maintenance.
In fact, a properly-raised Toy Poodle should have a similar disposition to a Standard Poodle, and the Standard Poodle was bred to work happily and productively alongside humans.
Toy Poodles should be active, proud and very smart (according to the AKC), and gay-spirited and good-tempered (according to the Kennel Club in the UK).
A Toy Poodle should be like a best friend who thinks all your ideas are excellent and wants to join in without fuss.
Toy Poodle temperament
Don’t let their small size fool you – Toy Poodles are smart, energetic, and love to join in with days out.
You’ll need to provide plenty of opportunities for exercise.
An hour a day is the absolute minimum. You’ll also need to keep them engaged with plenty of training and fun games at home.
Toy Poodles are popular companion dogs because they reciprocate our love of company.
But the flip side of this is that they don’t take kindly to being left out.
They are likely to become stressed and bored if they’re left alone in an empty house for long periods.
If you work full time, factor in the cost of a pet sitter or regular dog walker when you’re deciding whether to get a Toy Poodle.
Are Toy Poodles good with children?
Standard and Miniature Poodles are a popular breed choice for families with children because they’re typically confident and relaxed around humans, and relatively easy to train.
Among Poodle owners, Toy Poodles are generally reported to be more nervous than their bigger cousins, which means kids will have to be older before they can be left unsupervised with a Toy Poodle.
You’ll also need to consider how likely it is that your Toy Poodle pup could accidentally get hurt.
Most children will easily outweigh a Toy Poodle by their second birthday, but toddlers (through not fault of their own) are still clumsy, and if they fall onto your dog, the dog is likely to end up injured.
Toy Poodle training
Historically Standard and even Miniature Poodles were prized for their quick intelligence and trainability as hunting companions.
Toy Poodles don’t share their older cousins’ working roots, but they do share their intelligence.
With patience and practice, channeling those smarts into a well-trained and well-behaved dog should be an achievable and rewarding way to bond with your new dog.
Like all toy dogs, Toy Poodles mustn’t be allowed to skip socializing or obedience training just because they’re small enough to scoop out of trouble.
Lots of socialization as a puppy will be vital to instill them with the confidence they need around people as adults.
If your Toy Poodle will be visiting or visited by children, arranging a fun and rewarding introduction while they’re still a puppy will set them up for a happy relationship in the future.
Toy Poodle colors
The AKC recognizes a staggering ten standard Poodle colors:
- silver beige
- and white!
In addition, they list an astonishing eighteen acceptable two-tone coat combinations in their breed standard.
And if that’s not enough already, whilst looking for a Toy Poodle puppy you’ll probably encounter even more colors, which aren’t recognized by the breed registries, but look just as sharp.
So whether you picture yourself with a red Toy Poodle, a black Toy Poodle, an apricot Toy Poodle, or a brown Toy Poodle, with a little patience and perseverance you’ve got a good choice of finding them.
Toy Poodle coat
Poodles have earned their reputation for being high maintenance in one crucial area: grooming.
Poodle coats don’t shed, but they do keep growing throughout a dog’s lifetime.
Left to their own devices, they will eventually “cord” – the canine equivalent of dreadlocks.
Your Toy Poodle’s coat will need brushing every day to keep on top of tangles and sweep away dirt and debris before it can accumulate.
It will also need trimming every six to eight weeks.
For most Toy Poodles owners, this is as straight forward as an all-over haircut, known as a pet clip or a puppy clip.
Toy Poodle grooming
If you’re planning to enter your Toy Poodle into dog shows (or even if you just fancy the aesthetic of pom-poms at the ankles), then you’ll need to find a dog groomer with specific experience of looking after Poodles.
They will initiate you into the fascinating and (dare I say it?) bewildering world of continental clips, English saddle clips and bikini clips, help you identify which you’re allowed to choose from according to your chosen breed registry, and then choose which would be best for your Toy Poodle.
And if all this makes you think the that a corded coat might be the way to go, bear in mind they are the highest maintenance coat of all to keep clean.
But, before you despair, remind yourself that the time spent grooming your Toy Poodle would otherwise be spent hoovering up dog hairs and lint-rolling the furniture if you’d chosen a different breed of dog!
Toy Poodle health
Through genetic good fortune and the wisdom and prudence of Toy Poodle breeders, there are lots of healthy Toy Poodles being born.
However, like any breed, there are some health problems which they tend to be vulnerable to.
Without further ado, they are:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a degenerative condition which causes the retina at the back of the eye to gradually degenerate, eventually resulting in loss of sight.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy can be acquired through plain old bad luck, but it can also be caused by faulty genes which are inherited through some breeding lines of Toy Poodles.
Luckily, the faulty gene has been found, and carriers can be identified by a straight forward and easily obtainable DNA test.
When you visit a Toy Poodle puppy, their breeder should be able to show you certificates for both parents confirming they don’t carry the faulty gene which causes Progressive Retinal Atrophy.
A huge retrospective study of dogs diagnosed with cataracts between 1964 and 2003 found that just over 10% of Toy Poodles have cataracts, compared to just over 3% of the dog population overall.
Whilst this strongly suggests there is an underlying genetic link between being a Toy Poodle and suffering with cataracts, unlike Progressive Retinal Atrophy there is no definitive DNA test for identifying at-risk dogs.
So to screen for cataracts, all breeding Toy Poodles should have had a complete eye exam by a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist within the last year.
Patella luxation is a malformation of the knee joint which allows the top of the shin bone to slip in and out of position, causing lameness.
Luxating patellas are a problem for many small dog breeds, including Toy Poodles.
There are different degrees of patella luxation, depending on whether it was present from birth or developed in adulthood, and how severely it affects the dog.
Toy Poodles used for breeding should have certificates issued by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals describing the condition of their knee joints.
The breeder should be happy to share these with you and discuss any concerns they throw up.
von Willebrand’s Disease
von Willebrand’s Disease, more commonly abbreviated to vWD, is an inherited blood disorder.
Dogs (and humans!) with vWD don’t produce enough of a protein in the blood plasma called von Willebrand factor (vWF).
vWF plays an important role in blood clotting when the skin is broken.
Dogs with vWD are prone to nose bleeds and bleeding gums, and bleed excessively from cuts or wounds in the skin.
The condition is caused by a mutation in the gene which would normally code for vWF. This means it can be inherited by puppies of Toy Poodles who carry the faulty gene.
Luckily, a DNA test for von Willebrand’s disease is readily available, and when you visit a Toy Poodle puppy their breeder should be able to show you certificates to confirm neither parent carries the vWD mutation.
And finally, all sizes of Poodle are more than averagely vulnerable to thyroid problems.
This is a rather umbrella term which can refer to a broad spectrum of conditions and symptoms.
These can include, but aren’t limited to:
- weight gain
- digestive problems
- greasy skin, dry skin or skin infections
- hair loss or a lank, greasy coat
- and more.
When you’re searching for your Toy Poodle puppy, ask breeders if any of the dogs in their puppies’ family tree have been diagnosed with thyroid problems.
How long do Toy Poodles live?
A small sample of Toy Poodle owners in the UK who were willing to complete a survey for the Kennel Club including details of how their pets had died (20 dogs in total) found that the average lifespan of those Toy Poodles had been 14 years and eight months.
Fourteen is a respectable age for any dog, and also reflects the general rule that small dogs tend to live longer than large dogs (the average age for Standard Poodles in the same survey was 12 years).
And pleasingly, the leading cause of death when the time came was simple old age.
Toy Poodle breeders
Right, now you’ve got all the facts to help you choose the Toy Poodle breed, what’s the best way to find a Toy Poodle puppy?
In the UK the Kennel Club is a good starting place to find a Toy Poodle breeder in your area.
Poodles of all sizes are commonly mistaken for being hypoallergenic because they don’t shed (more on that here) which means they’re a favorite of puppy farms.
Always take every precaution possible to make sure you buy your Toy Poodle puppy from a responsible breeder.
Toy Poodle puppies
A responsible breeder will be happy to answer all these questions when you approach them, and arrange for you to meet both parents before you take home your puppy.
Your prospective puppy should be with mum when you go to meet them, and it should be obvious she is a beloved family pet. She should know her name, and their should be obvious affection between her and the breeder (she has recently given birth after all!).
Worried that a pedigree Toy Poodle breeder is the wrong place to find a family pet?
In reality only one or two puppies from a litter will be show standard, but the rest will still be happy, healthy, well-treated “pet puppies”.
Toy Poodle price
Bringing a litter of healthy puppies into the world is not a cheap business.
A Poodle puppy can cost anything from several hundred dollars to well over a thousand dollars.
Part of the cost might reflect that they are an unusual or sought-after color, or their parents have performed well in the show ring.
But the steep price tag is far from profiteering.
Their parents needed to be health tested before the mating took place, the mum needed veterinary care throughout her pregnancy, the puppies needed feeding, worming and flea-treating… it all adds up.
Price for a Toy Poodle
If a Poodle puppy price sounds too good to be true, their welfare is likely to have been compromised at some point to make that possible.
Also bear in mind that even though a puppy seems expensive, the upfront cost is just a tiny fraction of how much you’ll have to pay to keep them over their lifetime.
Toy Poodle rescue
The Poodle Club of America not only helps match-make hopeful Toy Poodle owners with puppies, they also run their own rescue foundation
The site has contact information for Poodle rescue groups across the US.
Toy Poodles end up in shelters or foster homes for all kind of reasons.
Some may have been given up for behavioral issues which an experienced dog owner is best-placed to rectify.
But others were much loved pets who have fallen on hard times, for example because their owner has died or become too ill to look after them.
Could you be the right person to give them a second shot at a happy home?
Is a Toy Poodle right for me?
Toy Poodles make wonderful pets if you have an active lifestyle, and you’re looking for an intelligent dog you can take out and about and build a real rapport with.
The obvious advantage of choosing a Toy Poodle over a Miniature or Standard Poodle is that they take up less room if you live in smaller house or apartment, and they have a smaller surface area of fur to keep on top of when it comes to that all-important grooming.
If choosing the right size of Poodle is your main dilemma, our article on the pros and cons of different dog sizes could help you find the best fit.
Toy Poodles are smart and quick to learn, but they prefer adult company and don’t like to be left alone.
If you have small children, or your house is empty during the day, then now might not be the right time to bring a Toy Poodle home.
If you take care to bring home a healthy Toy Poodle puppy from a loving breeder, you’ll be rewarded with a charismatic little buddy for many years to come.
Have you fallen for the charms of a Toy Poodle?
Do you have a Toy Poodle? What made you choose them over a Standard Poodle or Miniature Poodle?
Tell us all about them in the comments section below!