What’s a French Poodle? An Insider's Guide

The term “French poodle” is misleading! This popular dog breed originated in Germany. But where does the moniker come from?

Dec 30, 2023By Jessica Montes
what is a french poodle insiders guide

Before you greet a French Poodle with a “bonjour,” let’s discuss where these pups originated. Keep reading to learn what this name refers to, different grooming styles, and about adorable Poodle mixes.

Poodles Actually Hail from Germany

Photo courtesy of Tim Wilson

The term “French Poodle” is misleading. As France’s national dog, it’s easy to assume that this name describes a breed with French origins. However, Poodles were developed as duck-hunting water dogs in Germany over 400 years ago. Their popularity spread to other parts of Europe, including France. Beginning in the 1700s, French groomers took creative control over the dogs’ appearances. They experimented with decorative patterns and styles and then paraded their pups in public areas like the Seine River.

It is believed that “French Poodle” was applied to these elaborate grooming styles, not the actual breed. This means that French Poodles as an exclusive variety don’t exist, and they are simply Poodles with French grooming.

Popular Poodle Grooming Styles

Poodle grooming chart
Photo courtesy of Poodle Fun

Poodle owners would be lying if they said their curly-haired canine “just woke up like this.” This breed doesn’t have low-maintenance grooming needs. Poodles need daily brushings to prevent matting and having to shave off their fur in extreme cases. Short trims are preferred, as they are easier to brush. This includes cuts known as the “teddy bear” and “lamb,” where the fur is kept short all over the body.

If you are interested in showing your dog, you can style the Poodle in one of two approved styles. The first is “the Continental,” where puffs of fur are on the legs, tail, and lower back, and a cloud of curls wraps the torso, ears, back, and head. Option two is known as “the English Sadler” and parallels the former cut, except there are two spheres on the hind legs and fur on most of the back. Both are extravagant looks and require thorough brushings.

Uncommon Poodle Stylings

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

One exception exists to the two flamboyant, fluffy styles accepted by dog shows. It’s the corded hairstyle! With this look, the puppy fur is split into sections, wetted and fully dried repeatedly, and then frizzy hairs are coiled around the bottommost layer. The Poodle’s fur is never brushed or combed (and rarely cut) as you are creating an organized, matted fur and want to maintain the length.

Beware that these cords are not less demanding and require more work early on. Growing the ropes into sections takes months and nearly a year until they stop looking like a bad haircut. Not to mention, baths can take several hours, if not a whole day, with the prep, soak, washing, and drying time. This style is only for the most patient and attentive owners.

There Are Different Poodle Varieties

Miniature Poodle
Photo courtesy of Jessica Ramdass

Like many beloved breeds, Poodles were bred into cuter, tinier versions of their original size. Standard Poodles are over 15 inches tall and reach an adult weight of 60 to 70 pounds for males and 40 to 50 pounds for females. The Miniature Poodle was bred in the late 1800s in France and measures 10 to 15 inches and weighs 10 to 15 pounds.

Then, the United States had to take it a step smaller. In the late 20th century, they bred the Toy Poodle as a pocket-sized, city walking companion. Toy Poodles are less than 10 inches tall and barely tip at the scale at four to six pounds.

Regardless of the variety, Poodles have long, curly, dense coats. Their compact fur makes for minimal shedding and can serve as a more hypoallergenic pet option.

Labradoodles Are Popular Poodle Mixes

Photo courtesy of US Service Animals

Breeders didn’t stop at changing a Poodle’s size. They mated them with other canine varieties to create playful, active mixed breeds. Consider the Labradoodle, a Poodle and a Labrador Retriever Mix. These pups are affectionate and energetic with a protective personality that’s open to meeting new people. Labradoodles are also great pets for children because they love running and playing fetch.

The mixed-breed dogs can take after either parent’s fur color and size, weighing upwards of 70 pounds. Although, it’s clear who the Labradoodles inherit their semi-curly, wavy coat texture from. Because of their Poodle genes, they look their best with regular brushing, but the trade-off is their trivial shedding and cleaner homes!

Aussiedoodles: Two Intelligent Breeds in One

Photo courtesy of Steindoodles

Aussiedoodles are the wonderful result of breeding an Australian Shepherd with a Poodle. This mix also produces high-energy pups who need daily walks and playtime. Aussiedoodles are enthusiastic learners who perform well in agility and obedience drills and can become trained therapy dogs. In addition, their Australian Shepherd blood means they need a daily job to prevent boredom and common problematic behaviors. While they enjoy their outside time, Aussiedoodles aren’t exclusively outdoor dogs and must stay indoors.

These Australian Shepherd-Poodle hybrids have more variety in their physical features. Some may develop straight fur, others a curly coat, or they might have a more wavy texture. Aussiedoodles can also have multicolored fur with streaks of white, gray, black, and brown dispersed throughout.

Cockapoos: Loving, Outdoing Poodle Mixes

Photo courtesy of ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

When a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle join forces, you get an awesome combination of two of the world’s most beloved, designer breeds. This hybrid is known as a Cockapoo. The combined breeds create a charming, loving dog who enjoys the company of other pups, pets, and children. Cockapoos need moderate exercise, playtime, and mental stimulation to keep boredom at bay.

A Cockapoo’s appearance and personality are less predictable than other Poodle mixes. The genetic diversity of these two varieties cannot predict who their litter will resemble. Some may inherit their Cocker Spaniel’s yellow, golden, or chocolate-colored fur; their coat can also range from fluffy to curly. They might shed more like a Cocker Spaniel or be vocal watchdogs like Poodles.

Next time you hear “French Poodle,” remember it isn’t an actual breed variety. They are regular Poodles! Then ignore all the labels and admire these beautiful dogs whether they come in standard, miniature, toy, corded, or mixed breed form.

Jessica Montes
By Jessica Montes

Jessica is a California-based writer, journalist, lover of animals, and vegan of 17 years. Growing up, she owned parakeets, fish, a rabbit, and a red-eared slider turtle. She currently has a black cat named Marty and a tabby named Jellybean. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, camping, and roller skating to funky tunes.