Have you ever watched a dog show before? If you have, then you’ve most likely seen lots of poodles prancing around, all looking immaculate. In particular, their pristine teeth, well-groomed coats, and well-cut nails. The general image that comes into your mind when you think of a poodle is a well maintained and cared for dog.
The truth is, though, that it takes a LOT of work. Poodles don’t just look this glorious by themselves. There’s a lot of effort you need to put in as a dog owner to make sure they live up to the reputation they’re known for.
Whether you want to enter your poodle in for a show or just own one for domestic purposes, you must ensure it undergoes regular grooming.
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What happens if you don’t groom your poodle?
One important element of grooming a poodle is brushing, cutting, and taking care of its hair. If you don’t do this, you will find their hair to become matted and eventually cut off the circulation to their limb, putting them at risk of losing mobility in certain areas.
Plus, a poodle’s skin can be prone to developing sores, scabs, and at great risk of contracting infections. In particular, poodles can get the following infections:
Sebaceous Adenitis – When a poodle’s coat becomes dry and brittle and sometimes can develop a yeast or bacteria infection. Because their coat is dry, their skin becomes inflamed, preventing sebum from being produced.
This can stop the skin from functioning properly and sometimes leading to worse conditions such as alopecia and sebaceous cysts. If a poodle gets Sebaceous Adenitis, they have to be treated regularly with topical skin emollients and fatty acids.
Bacterial infections – A lack of grooming can cause a range of bacterial infections in poodles. A sign of this is if your poodle begins to scratch its skin in a certain place more frequently than normal. As a result, it can break through its hair and damage its skin’s surface, putting it at risk of developing a bacterial infection.
How often should poodles be groomed?
This is one prevalent question that may be running through your mind if you’re thinking about buying a poodle. Well, poodles do require frequent maintenance but only after 16 weeks.
It’s not advised to groom a poodle when they’re under 4 months old, apart from cleaning their face, and you should not wait after 6 months to begin grooming. The sooner you do it, the sooner you can condition your dog and familiarize it with the grooming process. Otherwise, if you groom it when it is much older, it can be stubborn.
If they’re an adult, they should have their coats professionally groomed every 4-6 weeks. However, the period can slightly change, depending on the poodle breed, especially the slow growing ones.
A poodle’s hair can also get matted easily and be prone to split ends; we also recommend brushing your poodle 2-3 times a week. As an owner, you have to do more than just brushing your poodle.
You also have to clean its ears, as they are large, flappy, and droop down. Because of this, it can become warm and moist inside, causing infection if not cleaned regularly.
Just like humans, poodles can be prone to developing ear wax, so you also have to remove the build up of wax every week from their ears.
Do they need haircuts?
To be honest, it’s up to you as a dog owner if your poodle needs a haircut. You’ll tend to find if you want to enter your poodle for show purposes, then it will require one. Irrespective of it getting a haircut, you must brush its coat regularly.
Most poodles don’t shed much at all, but they have a curly coat, which means their hair will tend to fall inside their coat. To remove the excess hair, you’ll need to get a slicker brush, which will prevent it from having a wool-like coat.
If you do choose to enter your poodle for competition purposes, you can choose one of the following types of cuts:
Town and country: This is where a poodle’s belly, face, neck, and feet are shaved. Then other areas of their body are left with hair intact.
Teddy bear: This is a cut/clip designed to make your poodle look like a teddy bear with a consistent level of hair across its body.
The lamb: If you choose the lamb, your poodle’s coat will be cut to a short length, the same across all its body.
The bikini: A poodle’s body has its hair shaved on the tail, feet, and face, and the rest of its body trimmed the same way.
Is grooming hard?
If you want the short answer, then poodle grooming is tedious, time-consuming, and difficult. Unlike other breeds, a poodle has naturally curly hair which needs to be groomed regularly. But as mentioned above, it’s not just brushing a couple of times a week; they require more than that.
First of all, when you’re brushing a poodle, you will need to use a slicker brush to remove its tats. If you find tats in the poodle’s hair, you’ll need to cut them out using a pair of scissors. If you don’t remove them as you see them, you could leave your poodle at risk of getting a skin infection.
Similarly, you should bathe your poodle every 3 weeks, allowing you to fully clean its skin and coat. You also bathe your poodle before deciding to do any grooming, trimming, or clipping. If their hair is full of oil, your clippers blades may become dull and break. On the other hand, if you bathe your poodle too frequently, you could strip away its natural oils.
In addition to this, you should aim to brush your poodle’s teeth around 3 times per week. It’s easy for poodles to have plaque building up, putting it a risk for periodontitis and bacterial infections.
As a poodle-owner, you must also regularly trim their nails. Long nails can cause many problems; they could scratch you or people that come into contact with your poodle. More importantly, though, poodles can cause them a lot of pain and prevent them from actively participating indoors and adventuring outdoors.
You may want to choose to get their nails trimmed professionally, as poodles are sensitive, and if their nails are cut too short, your poodle may bleed.
How much does it cost?
When it comes to grooming a poodle, costs can vary due to the following factors: location, breed, size of the poodle, grooming type, and the groomer’s reputation.
On average, you may find it could cost around $40-$75; however, that may just be a standard grooming shop. Similarly, if you choose to have a mobile groomer, you may expect to pay around $75 and can even pay a much lower price of around $11-$23 if you choose to take it to self-service groomers.
You may find grooming prices for a poodle can vary even further. Typically, you can expect to pay the following for these treatments:
- Nail trim and buffing – $15
- Nail trim – $10
- Teeth brushing – $10
- Ear cleaning – $10
- Flea and tick treatment – $15
- Facial – $5
- Nail polish – $7 (Only for the glam girls)
Poodle grooming at home vs. poodle grooming for show
We know at times, money can go as quickly as we earn it, and it can be expensive to have your poodle professionally groomed for shows. While groomers do an efficient cut of your poodle and make it look amazing, you can also learn the art of a cut. This is something you can look up online or undergo tutorials on youtube with.
Before you groom your poodle, though, it’s recommended that you have an excellent pair of clippers, slicker brush, comb, trimming scissors, cool lube to clean your clipper blades, and dog-friendly shampoo and conditioner.
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Poodle grooming tips
If you choose to groom your poodle from the comfort of your own home, then sometimes a few handy tips, do not go a miss. We recommend following these tips for grooming:
- Prepare a suitably sized space – You want to have a clean space to place your poodle on and one that is comfortable too. Make sure it’s nice for them to lie down by placing towels and blankets.
- Don’t use hot temperatures – When washing your poodle, make sure you don’t use hot water or use the hot heat setting on the hairdryer. Their skin is sensitive and is prone to be burnt.
- Slowly clip/trim their hair and nails – If you clip slowly, it stops your clipper from burning your poodle and reduces the risk of bleeding.
- Use a harness when grooming – If you secure your poodle in a harness, it can keep them in place and reduce the risk of injuring themselves towards scissors.
If you’re looking for a low maintenance dog when it comes to grooming, poodles may not be for you. Overall, poodles require to be brushed 2-3 times a week and fully groomed every 3-6 weeks. If you don’t groom them, their hair could become matted, and they could become prone to skin and bacterial infections.
Similarly, grooming is not just washing or brushing; a poodle has to have its teeth brushed, nails clipped, and wax removed from its ears. You don’t need to fork out lots of money for a professional groomer all the time; there are lots of tutorials and information online for you to master the skills to groom your poodle at home.
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Marko is the founder and author at PoodleHQ, where he blends profound expertise with formal training in Animal Behavior and Canine Genetics. With multiple generations of poodles under his care, he’s a breed connoisseur, honored with the Canine Care Excellence Award and lauded by the International Pet Enthusiasts Association.