Mention a pom-pom in canine circles and one breed comes to mind-the elegant Poodle. While the distinctive hairdo might seem more like a fashion statement than a necessity, the Standard Poodle haircut makes sense once you understand the breed's history.
Bred as a water retriever in early 17th Century Europe, the Poodle name comes from the German pudel or pudelhund, literally meaning "water dog." Since a Poodle's thick outer coat can get heavy when wet, the bottom half of the body was shorn back to help keep the dog afloat. To keep his organs warm in cold waters, the hair was kept long over the chest and head. Bracelets of ankle hair were left to protect joints from rheumatism, and a topknot was used to keep long hair out of the eyes when swimming. Colorful bows were added during competitions to help owners identify their dogs.
Groomed for competition
The range of fancy and experimental Poodle cuts hit a peak during the reign of the French King, Louis XVI, when many dogs were trimmed in decorative styles to match the extravagant coifs of 18th Century French nobility.
Today, Poodle owners generally choose between one of two traditional cuts. The "Continental Clip" leaves a full mantle of hair around the chest and rib cage, pom-poms over each hip and on the tail, ankle and knee bracelets, and fully shaved hindquarters and legs. With the "English Saddle Clip," a short coat of hair is left over the hindquarters and legs.
In competition, adult dogs must be shown in one of these two conforming cuts, which always make Poodles big crowd-pleasers in the show ring.
The new natural
While elaborately coifed Standard Poodles are still the norm, many owners today are choosing to either leave their dogs uncut or leave them in a uniform length, such as a puppy cut. Please note that uncut Poodles are not maintenance free, and the resulting matting can, in some cases, cause significant skin issues.
But whether he's perfectly pruned or minimally coifed, no other breed has turned heads throughout history like your distinctive Poodle.
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.