Standard poodles are glamorous, athletic and comical canines with non-shedding, hypoallergenic coats that are ideal for dog lovers who have allergies. In fact, the standard poodle is often bred with other breeds, such as the Labrador retriever, to create a hybrid dog with the poodle's coat characteristics, intelligence and temperament. Big brother to the miniature and toy varieties, the standard poodle is the original. It is the eighth-most-popular dog on the 2012 American Kennel Club's list of favorite breeds. The standard poodle makes an excellent family pet. The breed requires regular exercise and regular grooming.
Visit your library and read up on the standard poodle breed. Compare the standard poodle's activity level -- which is high -- with your own lifestyle. Factor in how much time you will have to exercise and train your dog. Keep in mind that standard poodles can live up to 15 years, according to Dogster.com. Be prepared to provide a quality home to your poodle for life.
Find standard poodle owners and breeders through your favorite social media. Ask what they feed, what color they prefer, what gender they tend to favor, and other questions you might have. Ask about particular pedigree lines, health issues or reputable breeders of standard poodles.
Determine what age of standard poodle you want to bring into your family. If you want a puppy, be prepared to train the dog to help it become the best companion animal he can be. Consider adopting a rescue if you want a more mature animal.
Review your budget. Determine if you can afford food, health care, training and coat upkeep for a standard poodle. Poodle grooming can cost up to $1,200 per year, according to dog expert Virginia Guidry.
Prepare a safe place for your standard poodle before you bring him home. Make him your regular companion. Take him with you when you go out. Most poodles don't like to be left alone; they love to be with and please their owners, says pet author and poodle owner Janine Adams. Poodles can become destructive if left alone for long hours; exercise and lots of companionship can make the dog happier, advises Dogster.com.
Provide a large fenced-in area, or exercise your dog by taking him on walks. Play games of fetch or take him for an off-leash romp in a safe, fenced dog park. Give your poodle games and food toys to stimulate his mind. Poodles are intelligent and highly trainable.
Feed your poodle a high-quality diet in several small meals during the day. No single commercially prepared food is best, Guidry says. Feed the dog from a raised feeder to prevent bloat, a common and often deadly condition caused by eating too much food too quickly: As the stomach fills with gas, it becomes very painful and can actually twist, a condition requiring immediate medical attention to save the life of your dog. Additionally, withhold water for one-half hour following vigorous exercise to prevent bloat. Like many barrel-chested breeds, standard poodles can bloat easily, the Poodle Club of America warns.
Groom your standard poodle regularly; if you don't, the dog's coat can become fuzzy, matted and uncomfortable for the dog. Train yourself to bathe, clip and snip the coat every four to eight weeks, Guidry suggests, or take the dog to a groomer. At the basic level, brush your dog several times a week.
Select the cut that's best for both your poodle's lifestyle and your own. A puppy under 12 months of age may look best in a "Puppy" clip, especially if the dog is to be shown. The puppy clip allows the coat to be left long, while the face, throat, feet and base of the tail are all shaved except for a puff or pompom of hair at the end of the tail. Show your dog over 12 months of age with an "English Saddle" clip. This clip is similar to the "Puppy" clip, but puffs of hair are left on the forelegs. Another show option is the "Continental" clip, which is an elegant clip that highlights bracelets of hair on the hind legs and puffs of hair on the forelegs. The rest of the body is shaped to improve the overall look. A "Sporting" clip calls for shaving the face, face, feet, throat and base of the tail, and leaving a cap of hair on the top of the poodle's head. The rest of the body and legs are cut to leave a short coat, no longer than 1 inch long. There are numerous "pet" cuts that an experienced groomer should be able to provide for dogs that won't be shown.
Make regular appointments with your veterinarian for routine examinations and vaccinations. Keep close watch for runny eyes and ear infections. The poodle is generally a healthy breed; however, poodles are prone to hypothyroidism; Addison's and Cushing's diseases; hepatitis and epilepsy; hip dysplasia; and several other breed-specific genetic issues, according to the Poodle Club of America.