Your handsome Poodle is a study in hair-ology with so many pigment variations and textures! Your poodle might be one of 10 colors — from silver to apricot, champagne to café-au-lait — with hair quality ranging from wavy to soft, wooly to coarse. Poodles are also unique in that they have hair rather than fur, so they rarely shed.
A cut above
With its versatile hair, Poodles have been elaborately groomed since the 1600s. Styles range from a puppy cut (clipped short from head to toe) to a lamp clip (a slightly longer, uniform length over the entire body), as well as the famous Continental Clip—complete with pom-poms (also called ankle bracelets) and thicker tufts of hair around the chest and back.
The origin of the classic Continental Clip was actually an occupational necessity. If you've ever let your Poodle's hair grow naturally, you know it falls into long, curly cords. Poodles were bred in Germany as water dogs for retrieving birds. If left uncut, the heavy rope-like cords would absorb water and possibly cause them to sink. The Continental Clip was functional, keeping Poodles streamlined while swimming, but warm in cold water and well protected at the joints and in vulnerable organ areas. Even the topknot had a purpose—tied with a colored ribbon, it allowed a hunter to spot his swimming dog at a distance.
Brush every day to keep hair mats away
A Poodle's coat consists of wiry outer hair and a dense, cottony undercoat. The two layers can become quickly matted, especially when coming in contact with sticky substances like tree sap or mud. This is why most professional groomers strongly recommend daily brushing and combing, and a regular grooming routine.
Grooming is such an essential part of proper Poodle care, breeders and professional groomers will begin to familiarize puppies with electric clippers and other tools of the trade as early as six weeks of age. Nowadays, many dog owners are foregoing professional grooming services and opting for at-home hair care. If you're planning the do-it-yourself approach, plan on getting a few grooming essentials:
Brushes. You'll need to purchase two types. A Slicker Brush has short, thin wire teeth used to remove dead hair, tangles, and debris from the undercoat, while a Bristle Brush with longer wire teeth penetrates the curly outer hairs.
Electric Clippers. Invest in a good quality clipper with a variety of blade sizes to minimize pulling and to ensure clipping efficiency. It's a good idea to slowly desensitize your Poodle to the sound of the clippers, making future grooming sessions fear-free.
Scissors. For cutting out heavy mats and precisely trimming around sensitive areas near the ears, eyes, and tail.
You'll also need a gentle shampoo and a tangle-free conditioner to minimize matting. And keep your cutting style simple—a lamb or puppy cut is often the easiest for Poodle owners to maintain at home.
As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.
When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.
Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food
If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.
However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.
Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.
It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.
Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.
While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!
Whether you choose dry food, soft food or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.