I recently received a call about fostering a Poodle. When I arrived to the pick-up location I was given the dogs records from the past 3 years-all of which listed him as a Poodle. I was then given the dog. Though he resembled my own white Poodle, I knew from the moment I saw him that he was ‘something else.’ There were subtle signs that he was a different breed.
As a long time Poodle owner, I am more likely to spot tale-tale signs that a dog is a Poodle. However, even I have been guilty of asking if a Maltese was a Poodle or if a registered Poodle were a Peekapoo. Some dogs that are commonly mistaken for Poodles include Bichon Frise, Maltese, Puli, Barbet, Bedlington Terrier, Peekapoo, Maltipoo, and other breed mixtures.
If it looks like a sheep it must be a Poodle, right? Wrong. Although the Poodle is well known and easily recognized by its curly hair, it is not the only dog with the coat. In fact, this coat is so highly prized that the Poodle has been bred with many other dogs to create a new breed with the Poodle hair. Poodle hair is known for being hypoallergenic, soft, and unshedding. The Goldendoodle and Bichon Frise are two dogs that resulted from breeding Poodles into other dog blood lines.
Another problem people have with distinguishing Poodles from other breeds is color. Not all poodles are white. Some are black, grey, brown, or red. There are even some poodles that are ‘cow spotted.’ Similarly, just because a dog is white and fluffy does not mean it is a Poodle. There is also a hair style that people associate with Poodles that includes long ears and a clean shaven face. Some other dogs will receive this hair cut, or you may come across a Poodle with a different hair cut. There are many grooming options available and no one cut is limited to only one breed.
So how can you tell what kind of dog you are looking at? Eye shape, foot size, tail length and style, body shape, and muzzle size can all help you distinguish between breeds. Poodles have almond shaped eyes, nub tails that stick straight out, tiny feet, and a sleek body with a skinny muzzle.
I had my suspicions about my foster being a Bichon because he had a long tail that looped over his rear and big round eyes. After contacting a Bichon Frise Rescue I was given the verdict: my foster is a Bichon! His curled over tail, rounded eyes, large feet, and wide body are all signs of his true breed.
The next time you come across a pet you are unsure about, just ask! Don’t try to make a guess and ask, you risk ‘insulting’ the owner by mislabeling their dog. “Oh that is so cute, what type of dog is it?” is a great place to start! Most pet parents love to discuss their dog breed.
This author has also written articles about Avoiding Poodle Health Problems, Cheap Replacements for Expensive Pet Products, and Dog Breeding as an Investment.