Unlike many other dog breeds, the poodle has a single layer of fur with an extended growth cycle. Poodles only shed minimally, and when they do, the hair becomes trapped in the surrounding hair rather than falling out. Because of their minimal shedding, poodles are often referred to as hypoallergenic dogs. However, without regular grooming, poodles' fur can quickly become matted. This is not only unattractive, but it can also be painful for the dog. There are several simple hairstyles available for poodles of all sizes.
Show Dog Styles
The continental and English saddle clips are common among show dogs and therefore frequently associated with poodles. In the English saddle clip, the hair is allowed to grow from the dog's waist to his head. The front legs are shaved and a pom-pom is left at the ankles. The back legs are shaved into three pom-poms. In the continental clip, the dog's face, neck, hindquarters and feet are shaved. Hair remains on the tail and ankles and is shaped into pom-poms.
Typically only used with puppies, whose hair may grow in awkwardly or may not be fully curly yet, the puppy clip requires the base of the tail, face and feet to be shaved. The remaining hair is cut to keep it from matting. In a variation of this cut, the show puppy clip leaves the hair on the body long. The fur on the top of the head is shaped into a topknot or ponytail.
During the summer months, many owners opt to completely shave their poodles, particularly if the dog is not competing in shows. This low maintenance style requires little upkeep, but is not accepted in most show rings. Owners who prefer a slightly more sophisticated look frequently opt for a bikini clip. The face, feet and tail are shaved, while the body hair is left slightly longer. The hair on the feet is then shaped into pom-poms.
Sporting and Kennel
Designed for active dogs, sporting and kennel clips produce relatively low-maintenance coats. The body is shaved except for a topknot at the top of the head. The sporting clip is similar, but with longer leg fur that is trimmed at a graduated length to blend in with the rest of the body.
Town and Country
The town and country clip requires the shaving of the face, neck, feet and base of the tail. A band of fur around the belly and between the hips is also shaved. The remaining hair is either left long or trimmed to a shape that matches the dog's body and the owner's preference. The Dutch clip is similar, but leaves more fur on the face and neck, with a band shaved around the belly. The fur on the tail is shaped into a pom-pom.
There are a huge variety of other styles, and the possibilities for shaping a poodle's thick, curly hair are truly limitless. In the utility clip -- a common choice for poodles not competing in shows -- the tail, feet and face are shaved and the rest of the coat is cut to a short length that requires minimal upkeep. In the lamb clip, a variation on the utility clip, the legs are fluffy or shaped into pom-poms, but the rest of the cut is the same as a utility clip.