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Toy poodles outside in the grass.

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Toy group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — Up to 10 inches
  • Weight — 4-6 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Curly, coarse, and dense
  • Coat color — Toy poodles come in a multitude of coat colors, including black, blue, silver, apricot, red, white, and cream. Puppies are born with less distinguishable coat colors from each other, but as they age, their coat and the colors of their noses help to solve any confusion.
  • Exercise needs — High
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 10-18 years
  • Breed temperament — Playful, athletic, eager to please, and clever
  • Hypoallergenic — Yes, although no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic.
  • Origin — Germany

Toy poodle temperament and characteristics

Toy poodles are highly intelligent and devoted, making them a crucial part of any family. They are very affectionate towards their human family, and this love extends to their other family members as well. If properly socialized at a young age, toy poodles have no problem with other dogs, cats, or children. Their intelligence helps them learn games they can play with the kids, such as hide and seek.

This intelligence comes with a downside, however. Toy poodles quickly learn what is expected of them, and if they feel they are being left out or ignored, they will act out of spite to do the opposite of the expectations in place. These negative habits can be countered with vigilant training and rewarding good behavior. Eager to please, toy poodles will quickly come to love the praise and appreciation that comes as a result of their good choices.

Toy poodles can thrive in both a small apartment or a full-sized home, but special care must be taken to ensure they get their energy out in an appropriate manner. Highly energetic and playful, it is best to keep them focused on a task that will test their mind or train their agility. This training can extend to the toy poodle’s need to bark, allowing them to alert you when there is a visitor without being excessive. With these visitors, you can expect your toy poodle to be largely friendly, unless they are threatened or made to feel uneasy.

Toy poodle fun facts 

  • Instead of fur, poodles have hair. While most dog breeds and animals have fur, toy poodles’ coats more closely resemble human hair in its characteristics. Their hair never stops growing and does not fall out or shed in the traditional sense.
  • They’re a favorite among celebrities. Poodles have a past of being owned by American icons, such as Elvis Presley, Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor.
  • They’re equal parts brain and heart. Due to their high intelligence and caring nature, toy poodles are known to be employed as disability assistance and therapy dogs.
Toy poodle outside

Common toy poodle health problems 

With proper care for your toy poodle, you can expect a long, healthy life for your new family member. Daily walks and mental health exercises that keep them learning will help them lead a fulfilled life. However, the breed is prone to certain health issues, so it’s best to understand these conditions.

  • Cushing’s disease. This occurs when your dog’s adrenal glands produce too much cortisol due to a tumor on the brain or kidneys. It can be treated with medication or surgery. The symptoms are easy to spot, including increased appetite and thirst, increased urination, and hair loss on the rump.
  • Bladder stones. Much like kidney stones, this condition can be very painful for your pup and make it difficult for them to urinate. If you notice these problems or things like blood in their urine or abdominal pain, take your friend to the vet to get checked out.
  • Hip dysplasia. A terrifying diagnosis to hear for the pain it can bring to your friend, this happens when the ball and socket that make up the hip joint do not develop correctly. The unstable joint results in osteoarthritis. Thought to be genetic, factors such as being overweight or over-exercising before adulthood can aggravate the joint and make the condition worse.
  • Collapsing trachea. Despite how scary the name sounds, this condition is largely manageable with medication and careful monitoring, but will require surgery for treatment. It is usually found in middle-aged and older dogs where their coughs are violent and loud but unproductive.

Cost of caring for toy poodles

No one wants to think that their dog will be the one that comes down with a condition or illness, but it is very important to be ready in case you are one of the unlucky few. The cost of taking care of your toy poodle can extend from a simple veterinary visit all the way up to thousands of dollars. You don’t want to see your friend suffer needlessly, so it is best to start planning now to help them in the future. Setting up a pet savings account will help with budgeting any future medical expenses, and you can also look into purchasing pet health insurance to help with any unexpected events.

Toy poodle sitting on a fluffy chair.

History of the toy poodle

To understand where your little toy poodle puppy came from, it is important to know their heritage. Poodles are often shown in the media as fancy dogs that are dainty, lofty show dogs. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Poodles originated in Germany as water fowl retrievers. Pudel or Pudelin, their German name, means “splashing the water.” They are so well known for their retrieving abilities that standard poodles are the only non-sporting dog breed that is eligible for the AKC Retriever Hunting Tests.

Your toy poodle comes from a strong lineage of retrievers that wanted to do all they could for their human companion to make them happy with them. Smaller standard poodles were bred with each other to create the miniature and toy variants, but they did not lose any of their instincts. French owners have been known to use the toy poodle’s keen instincts and high intelligence to search for mushrooms and truffles for their cuisine.

The American Kennel Club recognized the toy poodle as an official breed in 1887, and since then, they have found their way into the hearts of many loving families.

Caring for your toy poodle

Choosing to bring a new puppy home is a big decision, but betterpet can help make your first few weeks with your toy poodle less stressful. By using our guides to puppy-proof your home and prepare for the teething stage, you can avoid some of the initial transition headaches. With that taken care of, you will have a moment to breathe before tackling the first trip to the vet and scheduling your dog’s vaccinations.

As scary as it can be to think of your pet getting lost, it’s best to be prepared. Sign up for FidoAlert and get the free Fido ID tag that will help find them again.

Finally, be careful when traveling with your dog to the vet and to other locations; invest in a proper carrying case or harness that can be buckled into your vehicle in case of an accident.


Proper exercise is obviously important for your toy poodle’s physical health, but it is also very helpful for their behavioral and social health. It will give you time to take them around strangers to help them grow more comfortable around people. Exercise also helps to rid your pup of any excess energy that could become destructive stress or anxiety. Generally, once your toy poodle reaches one year old, three 20-minute walks will be exercise enough. The pacing of these walks should be a brisk trot.

Exercise expectations for your puppy will have to be lowered. The rule of thumb is five minutes of walking per month of age, from 15 minutes at 3 months old to 55 minutes at 11 months old. The longer the walking time, the better it is to split it up over 2-3 walks, with a goal to not exceed 20 minutes at one time.

Exercising in the heat of the summer or cold of winter can be cause for worry. In summer, plan for a break in the shade and on soft grass so your dog can relax with some water to drink and stay hydrated. In winter, use paw wax and nose butter to protect both from the elements, and make sure to dress yourself and your toy poodle in clothing that will help with the cold.

Toy poodle running beside a wooden fence.


Daily brushing is in your future; there is no way around it. Owning a toy poodle comes with a lot of responsibilities, one of which is proper grooming. Because they have hair rather than fur, poodles have a tendency to get matted very easily. Therefore, you must make a habit of brushing them everyday to try and keep that from happening. It is important to go completely from root to tip to make sure none of it is missed.

Thankfully, there are multiple haircuts that can help alleviate some of this stress. It is common to keep your poodle’s hair trimmed in a short clip. This keeps their coat thick over their hips, chest, and leg joints to keep them insulated against the cold. The rest of their body, however, will have short hair that is much easier to groom and take care of. This will also make it easier to keep them regularly bathed, which should be done every 3-4 weeks to maintain good skin and coat health.

While no breed is truly hypoallergenic, toy poodles’ hair makes them considerably less allergenic than other breeds. Allergic reactions occur due to the protein found in a dog’s dander, hair, and saliva. Rather than shedding freely like other dog breeds, poodles’ hair falls back into itself and can be removed with brushing rather than letting it drift in the air freely.

Diet and nutrition

It is important you give your toy poodle food that is rich in what they need to stay energetic. There are many good food choices out there, and it is important to make sure you choose the right one.

It’s best to ask your veterinarian for advice on how often you should feed your toy poodle. Generally, 2-3 meals a day is best whether they are a puppy or an adult. This splits up their eating schedule so that your dog is not going to be too hungry between meals. As a puppy, their daily caloric intake should be 40-55 calories per pound. Adults should be getting 35-45 calories per pound, and seniors should get around 40 calories per pound.

Training your toy poodle

Toy poodles are extremely intelligent and eager to please, so training them should be fairly easy. They are agile and excel in canine sports such as obedience, tracking, and agility training. Poodles also greatly enjoy water-oriented sports, so letting them near the water will be training and rewarding for your pup.

With their intelligent, people-oriented personalities, toy poodles will excel if your training methods are fun and engaging. Your dog will want to please you and be rewarded for it, so they will quickly learn the habits you want them to learn. However, with this intelligence, you must be vigilant to not let bad habits take root. They can become confused if you are not consistent, so make sure you do not lead your puppy astray when issuing commands.

White toy poodle outside at the bottom of steps.

Breeds similar to the toy poodle

Not quite sure that a toy poodle is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Affenpinscher. Another intelligent hunter from Germany, Affenpinschers are sure to fill you with the joy of teaching an intelligent, energetic breed.
  • Saluki. If the toy poodle is a little too small for you, look no further than the Saluki. Regal and beautiful, how can you not fall in love?
  • Maltese. Beautiful and filled with a playful spirit, Maltese have a modest exercise need that might be easier to handle than a poodle’s.

Frequently asked questions

How large will a toy poodle get?

Measuring at 10 inches at the shoulders and less than 6 pounds, toy poodles are easily manageable and very small dogs.

Can a toy poodle be left alone?

Toy poodles can become overly dependent on their people and could suffer from separation anxiety, but proper training can help to mitigate this. Assigning them a task before you leave the house will help keep them distracted and awaiting your approval while you are gone.

Are toy poodles high maintenance?

Compared to standard poodles, toys are much easier to maintain as they have much less hair that you have to groom. However, they do require daily grooming care, so it is relative to whether or not you are willing to put in that daily, necessary effort.

How smart are toy poodles?

Toy poodles are extremely intelligent and easy to train. You just have to be careful because their high intelligence means they can quickly learn bad habits.