Everyone loves the Poodle. They are a versatile dog breed — and that includes their coats.
When it comes to grooming, Poodles are a cut above — meaning they need regular clipping. Some of the more popular Poodle cuts are the:
- Kennel Clip
- Miami Clip
- Lamb Clip
But, really Poodle grooming styles are limitless.
Paige McIlwain, director of training at Salty Dawg Pet Salon, says, “Poodles aren’t limited to just fancy trims and can be clipped in almost any way you can imagine. Their coats are extremely versatile as are the dogs themselves.”
Popular Poodle cuts
Paige says that in all three Poodle cut styles, the Poodle will have a shaved face and neck, shaved feet and a pompom tail with a shaved or banded base.
- Kennel clip: The Poodle’s neck, body and legs are the same short length all over. This clip is typically done in 3/8-inch blade or shorter. The top knot is just a little longer than the body and scissored round on top of the head. Ears are typically rounded and trimmed short.
- Miami clip: The Poodle’s body and the top 2/3 section of her legs are clipped with the same blade. The lower sections of the legs around the wrist and ankle joints above the shaved feet are scissored into round pompoms. This style is finished off with a mid-length rounded top knot and long, lightly trimmed ears.
- Lamb clip: This clip is characterized by the Poodle’s body clipped short with long, full legs. In the dog show world, this clip is typically done fully by hand-scissoring, but for customers, it’s often done using a combination of clippers and scissors. The top knot is left mid-to-long length and blended into the neck while ears are left long and lightly trimmed round
- Continental clip: This is the most easily recognizable standard Poodle groom style, says Paige. This clip’s most iconic features are the extremely full top knot that crests and blends into a voluminous jacket, a tight shaved rear end and legs, and pompoms on the hips, wrists and ankles. Typically, this cut is done more often for shows or sporting than typical pet grooming.
How to groom a Poodle
Paige says that in terms of Poodle grooming maintenance, they land on more of the high maintenance side of the scale than other breeds because of their coarse, dense, highly textured coat. However, she says maintenance really depends on how you like your Poodle trimmed. The longer the trim and more complicated the pattern, the more maintenance your Poodle will need to keep that “freshly groomed” look.
“They don’t shed in the traditional sense like a Shepherd, Retriever or Husky, but do still experience hair fall during washing and brushing,” she says.
High friction/motion areas like the legs and paws, tail, head and collar area need to be brushed and combed at least every two to four days, depending on coat length. The main trunk of the body should be brushed every three to five days, also depending on coat length.
“This keeps your Poodle’s hair from forming tight, painful knots and mats so that you can keep your Poodle in any desired style,” Paige says.
But if your Poodle’s coat does mat, you might need the help of a professional pet stylist. Some signs to look out for include:
- More than 1/4 of your Poodle’s fur is tightly tangled or clumped together.
- Your Poodle’s skin is showing signs of brushing irritation or bruising from detangling efforts.
- You cannot easily part your Poodle’s hair to visually inspect the skin.
- Your Poodle is flinching, yelping or biting when you attempt to detangle their coat.
“Keep in mind that the pet stylist may not be able to save your Poodle’s coat if matting is too severe,” she says.
Grooming your Poodle at home
Paige recommends a couple of tools to keep on-hand for home Poodle grooming:
- Slicker/pin brushes: These are for medium- to long-haired pups. These work by breaking up tangles in a pat-and-pull fashion. But careful not to brush too hard or too many times over the same area.
- Combs: These are a great choice for any medium-to-long-haired and double-coated dogs. Detangling fine knots or delicate areas and removing food debris from the muzzle are common uses for combs. Combs can also be used to gently work out matting starting from the ends of the hair, down toward the skin.
“The shorter the clip, the longer your Poodle can go in between appointments,” Paige says.
- For lengths 1/2-inch and shorter: every six to eight weeks works.
- For lengths 5/8-inch to 1-inch: every three to six weeks is best.
- Anything above 1 inch: should be professionally groomed every two to four weeks.
“These guidelines not only keep your Poodle manageable for you and the stylist, they also keep your Poodle on a low-stress routine while looking their best,” she says.
Finding your Poodle style
Ultimately the best look for your Poodle is one you and your pup both enjoy. Regular and thorough brushing and combing your Poodle will help keep your dog comfortable and mat-free. If you want to visit the groomer less often, keep your Poodle’s coat shorter. But if your dog’s coat is very matted, you’ll likely need professional grooming help to avoid hurting your pet.