Your standard poodle is an active, proud, and incredibly smart animal. When people think of poodles, often the first characteristic that comes to mind, aside from their curly coats, is intelligence. These dogs are on the large side of the dog spectrum, weighing in between 40lbs- 50lbs for females and 60lbs – 70lbs for males. They are more than a foot tall at the shoulder, not including the curly hair. These beautiful, intelligent dogs are very close with their families and display high amounts of affection. Their gentle yet playful natures come into focus with young children. Poodles are rated highly for homes with young children according to the American Kennel Club. In contrast, they are only good with other dogs, rather than great.
If you’re considering bringing a poodle into your home, or if you’re already blessed with one, you may be wondering more about these dogs, like what is the poodle lifespan, and what are the common poodle health issues. We’ll discuss these topics in this article, along with ways to keep your poodle healthy and extend your poodle’s lifespan.
What is the Life Expectancy of a Poodle?
The poodle life span range varies quite dramatically and goes from 10-18 years of age. While the breed has its share of health issues, this age range goes to show how effective preventative measures and a healthy lifestyle can be. Any of us who dread contemplating the day our beloved companion leaves us can take comfort in the fact that there are a great many factors that affect your dog’s health and longevity that are indeed under your control.
Common Poodle Health Issues
Here are a few of the more serious, commonly seen poodle health problems.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
PRA is a group of eye diseases that affect the retina, which is at the back of the eye. These diseases often lead to blindness. However, dogs with vision loss can live happy lives with a few accommodations.
Bloat affects larger, barrel-chested dogs, and can be deadly if not treated immediately. Bloat happens when a dog’s stomach expands and rotates, cutting off its blood supply.
This is a disorder of the hip joint, caused by genetics, and in severe cases requires surgery or euthanasia.
How to Improve Your Poodle’s Health and Lifespan
If you’re about to adopt a standard poodle, one of the best ways to ensure you adopt a healthy dog is to work with a reputable, ethical breeder. Be sure to interview breeders thoroughly and expect to be on a waiting list once you find a good breeder to adopt from. Here are some of the signs of a responsible breeder.
- They perform health tests on their dogs that are appropriate for breeding standard poodles. Responsible breeders only breed healthy dogs who are likely to have healthy puppies. They will be able to show you the documentation of these health tests on the parent dogs.
- Responsible breeders will be very knowledgeable about poodle care and will take the time to educate you about how to care for their dogs.
- Their dogs are all happy and appear well cared for. That means a clean living area for the mom and her pups, and that mom is content and taking care of her puppies. If the dogs are outside, then the puppies need to be regularly brought indoors for socialization reasons. They also need to be visited outside many times a day.
- Good breeders will begin socializing their puppies before adoption.
- Responsible poodle breeders begin training their puppies to tolerate the special grooming their coat requires before adoption.
- Expect to be thoroughly interviewed and vetted by a good breeder before you are allowed to adopt. They will want to establish that you will provide a good home for one of their dogs.
- Reputable breeders will sign a contract with you stating that they will take the dog back if you can’t keep the dog for any reason. This is a sign of an ethical breeder taking responsibility for the animals they bring into the world, and preventing them from contributing to the homeless animal population.
- Expect a waitlist. Breeding is a slow process when it’s done responsibly.
Choose a high-protein food made with high-quality protein. Giving your dog high-quality, nutritious food is the best way to ensure a long and healthy life. While it might be an investment, health is much less expensive than illness. In short, you need to turn away from the cheap, mass-produced commercial dog foods. These foods often lack the nutrition your dog needs to be healthy and thrive. There are good healthier brands on the market, or you could see what your vet has to offer (or recommend).
Choosing a good dog food for your poodle will require learning to read the ingredient labels. Many dog food labels are intentionally opaque and deceptive. For example, a food can claim to be high protein and show you its high protein content on a graph, but that protein is all sourced from indigestible feathers, hide, or hoofs. A dog’s digestive system isn’t able to break down those proteins into usable sources of nutrition. When looking for high-quality, high-protein dog food, you want the first three ingredients to be real meat.
Another trick that’s used is to disguise the main ingredient by breaking it up into different parts. For example, “corn” becomes “cornmeal”, “corn gluten”, and “corn gluten meal”. So, instead of corn being listed as one of the top ingredients, it’s found further down the label. Make sure to check your dog food for disguised main ingredients by looking for different versions of a grain or filler ingredient.
Poodles are very high-energy dogs that require daily physical activity. And not just a relaxed walk, they need good exercise like running after a ball to use up their energy. Poodles love to swim and tend to love the water. Since they were originally bred as hunting dogs, they have good instincts for fetch. Invest in a ball launcher and watch your poodle run!
With their high level of intellect, poodles make great candidates for agility runs and courses. These are great bonding activities for you and your dog. If there isn’t a course in your area, the equipment is affordable and available for purchase online.
Regular exercise keeps your dog healthy in general, but specifically at a healthy weight. Obesity is a huge risk factor for diseases like diabetes. It’s also hard on the joints, and with poodles’ risk of hip dysplasia, keeping your dog at a healthy weight is essential for many health-related reasons. If your dog is overweight, talk to your vet about creating a safe weight loss plan for your dog.
Unless you’re planning on keeping your poodle in a short trim, their coat requires special care to avoid serious matting. If your full coated poodle isn’t brushed and combed completely to the skin, severe matting will happen near the roots of the hair and will need to be shaved to the skin. Educate yourself on what’s required so you’re prepared to do it yourself or pay a professional groomer. On the positive side of things, poodles are generally non-shedding dogs, which makes for much less housecleaning.
As with any dog, your poodle requires regular teeth brushing along with dental cleanings on a vet’s recommended schedule. If your dog fights teeth brushing, some dental sprays and chews can help keep your dog’s mouth clean. Not only does this protect your dog’s teeth, but gum disease can negatively affect your dog’s organs, especially their kidneys, heart, and liver. There is a solid link between gum disease and kidney disease, so taking care of your pup’s teeth is an effective way to keep your dog healthy.
Regular veterinary care is one of the most important things you can do to prevent health issues, or catch them in the early stages. Take your dog as often as your vet recommends. Budgeting for veterinary care, as well as emergency pet bills, is one way to take care of your pet. Also, pet insurance is affordable and might be a good option.
One way to support your pet nutritionally is with supplements. Supplements are herbs, vitamins, and minerals that can help give your dog the nutrition it needs. There are a host of nutritional supplements out there for dogs. One way to look for quality when choosing a supplement for your dog is to look for the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) seal.
Good supplements for poodles include hemp seed oil, glucosamine and chondroitin, and antioxidants. Hemp seed oil is highly nutritious and includes a healthful balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are good for the skin, nervous system, and cardiovascular system. Glucosamine and chondroitin help to build healthy cartilage and are especially good for poodles because of the breed’s risk of hip dysplasia. Antioxidants help to protect your dog’s cells from oxidative damage from free radicals. Oxidative damage has been linked to a variety of diseases. Antioxidants are anti-inflammatory, and many diseases also have an inflammatory component as well.