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Poodle Temperament - Toy & Miniature

Poodle spread out on floor
Muffy, 1 year old Toy Poodle
Photo courtesy of owner: Joseph L.


Wondering if a Poodle is the right dog breed for you?Or do you already have a Poodle and are wondering if your pet's behavior is "normal"? Let's take a look at the traits, personality, behavior and temperament of this breed.

In regards to temperament, every dog breed is unique and individual. A Great Dane, a Pomeranian and a Poodle will all have different, distinct personalities. Many of the traits of the Poodle (as with other dog breeds) have been embedded into Poodle throughout hundreds of years of breeding.

Two other elements can alter the Poodle temperament: The breeder who raises the Poodle puppy and the actions of the owner.

Breed Traits

Let’s look at the qualities of the Poodle which are embedded into the dog breed…While there are always exceptions, most Poodles will have the following personality traits:

1. Poodles have a very keen sense of instinctual behavior. What does this mean to owners? One must know that the Poodle breed was trained for many generations to be hunting dogs (water dogs specifically) and this causes the Poodle to have marking behavior and hunting drives that are stronger than some other breeds. However, the domesticated Poodle pet is not a “wild” breed and both behaviors can be controlled with proper training. 

Their keen sense of the world prompts them to be very aware of their surroundings. In that respect, if a Poodle does not have enough stimuli to focus on, they can often become bored…And having a bored dog is not fun!
This can always be “fixed” by creating an environment that is stimulating enough to keep a Poodle satisfied. An owner should always have plenty of interactive toys for their puppy or dog. Daily exercise is important, and this should include agility games once the Poodle is old enough…for example, jumping through hoops, etc… which can be quite fun for both dog and owner. A Poodle likes to be surrounded by human family members and the Poodle temperament does best when having other Poodles to play with. This does not necessarily mean that an owner must have more than one…play dates with other dogs often works very well.

See Also: Puppy Care
funny Miniature Poodle laughing
2. Poodles are very people orientated and eager to please. This breed is typically very close to its owners and is not an overly independent, 'standoffish' breed. In regard to children, it is the Standard Poodle that often does best. This does not mean that one cannot have a Toy or Miniature if there are children in the home. However, due to the size of the dog, children must be taught proper handling and playing so that injury does not occur to the dog. 

Since the Poodle is very eager to please, this makes training much easier than with some other dog breeds. While patience must be used for house breaking and command training, when done properly, most owners find that it goes much easier than expected. While fully enjoying their human family members, some Poodle may be shy around strangers and socialization training can then be implemented. Due to their very loyal and loving temperament, most Poodles do not do well when left alone for long periods of time…For this reason, owners should prepare for signs of Separation Anxiety and be sure to train their dog to cope with this issue. 
3. Barking is minimal to moderate. Many people wonder which type of Poodle barks the least: the Toy, the Miniature or Standard…And many people assume that it is the Toy that barks the most due to the reputation of small dogs being 'yappers'. However, all 3 types can get into the habit of barking if they are not properly entertained. Does this mean that you must constantly entertain your pet? No! This just means that an owner should provide the items needed for self entertainment, such as toys. In addition, just as with any other type of dog, a Poodle needs daily exercise…. to run, to play and to explore the world (or just the neighborhood!)
Poodle puppy with wind on face
4. Low aggression level. The Poodle temperament does not include natural aggression. When put in a bad situation, any dog can and will show aggression. But when in a loving, peaceful home and given proper food, care, exercise and sleep…The Poodle is a very happy dog.
5. Sensitivity. Poodles are a sensitive breed…what does this mean? Your dog will pick up on your behavior. If their owner is in a bad mood, the Poodle will sense this. They can also become depressed if they are completely ignored or not treated properly.

However, this does not mean that one should spoil their dog. A Poodle will often take advantage of being spoiled …which makes life difficult. It is important that your dog understands that you are in charge.
Believe it or not, their sensitivity allows them to be wonderful watchdogs…Although the Toy or Miniature Poodle may lack the physical characteristics of a true “watchdog”, they can be counted on to bark out warning when a stranger comes to the house, etc.

6. Possible temperamental issues. The “stereotype” of being high strung is often given to this breed. However, with proper socialization to people and other pets, the Poodle temperament does not need to be high strung at all. It is most often shyness to others that then causes the Poodle to be obsessively bonded and close to their owner, following them like a shadow and having problems when left home alone or barking at any and all noises. This is why proper socializing to the “world” can fix possible issue.
Related Topic: Poodle Growling - Why Poodles do this, aggressive vs play and training to stop this behavior. 
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