Generally, Poodles have the potential to be great family pets, but there are some caveats. Standard Poodles are, undoubtedly, the most tolerant of children and have a lot of patience to deal with them. Miniature Poodles could potentially be good pets for families with children, but they’re less likely to handle teasing. Toy Poodles are the least tolerant of children, but they can be good family dogs with calmer or older children.
Poodles are intelligent, loyal dogs that come in three* recognized sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. While their coats are the same and their temperaments as well, there are some differences in how they cope living with children. Poodles are highly obedient dogs and extremely loyal, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy being in environments with rambunctious kids.
Before we get into it, it’s important to remember that all dogs range in temperament and tolerance, regardless of the breed. While a relative may own a well-behaved poodle, you could quickly end up with a high-strung dog that may not tolerate roughhousing with kids. While keeping these things in mind, let’s go over all three Poodle sizes and why they are- or aren’t- good family pets.
*Note: In some countries, there are four poodle sizes that include a Medium Poodle. However, this is not a recognized size in the AKC, and we will not have it in this article.
All About Poodles
Before going into why poodles are good family pets, let’s take a look at each poodle size and discuss their temperaments, trainability, and tolerance of children. Understanding a breed’s natural instincts and temperament range is crucial to having a safe and happy home, so you can choose the right poodle size for your family.
up to 10 inches
Active, mischievous, and fiercely loyal, Toy Poodles love to be with their owners. They enjoy families but tend to choose one person as their favorite. They’re tiny dogs that weigh no more than 10 pounds, so they’re on the fragile side. Despite their size, however, they’re athletic dogs that enjoy being active.
Toy Poodles are brilliant dogs that not only learn quickly but they can learn a long list of tricks and cues. They enjoy training and aim to please, but they’re not tolerant of harsh training methods. They can make excellent service and therapy dogs, as long as they’re frequently socialized.
While loyal to their families and easy to train, Toy Poodles tend to prefer households with calmer children. Between their lack of patience for roughhousing or teasing and their tiny bodies, Toy Poodles may snap or growl at hyperactive children if pushed too far. However, if your household is relatively peaceful and your children understand how to be gentle, they can be excellent family pets.
Miniature Poodles are a happy medium, with even temperaments and strong bonds to their families. They’re not too energetic, but they’re natural athletes and love to play. They’re extremely smart dogs and naturally athletic, so they’ll have no problem keeping up with children.
Miniature Poodles excel very quickly in obedience training, usually being the top student in puppy school. They’re highly intelligent and are eager to please, so training will generally be a breeze. They’re quite loyal and prefer to be by your side, so off-leash training shouldn’t be an issue.
Miniatures are neither the most nor least patient with kids, so they’re a good choice for families with kids that are a little on the calmer side. They’re still relatively small and fragile, so any rough play can still hurt them. Still, they’re slightly more trusting around kids than Toy Poodles.
Over 15 inches
Standard Poodles have great temperaments and happy-go-lucky demeanors, especially compared to their smaller versions. They’re loyal to their families and excellent watchdogs, without the aggressive tendencies that other watchful breeds have.
Standard Poodles are incredibly obedient and intelligent dogs, famous for being one of the most trainable breeds in the world. They’re able to excel in a wide variety of areas, from obedience and agility competitions to service and therapy training. Standard Poodles are great for active families and can be trained to hike off-leash.
Standard Poodles are not only tolerant of kids, but they enjoy spending time with them! These large dogs will have a blast playing and running around, yet they’re also quite gentle. They’re easily the most patient and calm with kids, though rambunctious children may get them riled up.
What to Look for When Looking for a Family Dog:
There are many breeds, rescues, and mixed-breed dogs that can be excellent family dogs, but there are some things that you need to consider. Safety is the most important thing when it comes to dogs and children, so it’s important that you find a dog that suits your family’s lifestyle. Here are things to consider and how Poodles stack up in these areas:
Child Safety & Tolerance
As we mentioned above, a dog’s ability to be safe and tolerant around children is a priority over all else. Dogs are still animals and will react if they’re pushed beyond their limits, which endangers both your children and your dog.
Poodles are generally safe and tolerant of children, but toy poodles are most likely to snap at children if pushed around too much. Standard Poodles are gentle and safe around children, making them the best bet for families with younger children.
Lifespan & Health
Dogs, unfortunately, have relatively short lifespans and health issues, especially if they’re large breeds notorious for serious health issues. Losing a pet can be extremely difficult for children, so it’s important that you consider this when getting a dog. Health is another important factor, as some dog health issues can be very expensive to treat.
Poodles are quite healthy and have great lifespans, though the Toy Poodle tends to have the best longevity. All three Poodle sizes have lifespans of around 12 – 15 years, which is longer than the average dog’s life. On the flip side, you’ll have to take care of a dog for the next 12+ years.
Dog Size & Exercise Needs
While that adorable Great Dane puppy you brought home may be cute now, owning a 200-pound dog can get tiring quickly. Size and exercise needs are essential when looking for a family pet, especially if your family is or isn’t active. Size is also important for safety issues since some breeds don’t know their own strength and may accidentally knock over a young child.
Poodles vary in exercise needs, but they do best with families that are relatively active, but they’re also pretty calm and mild-mannered indoors. Miniature Poodles really shine in this category since they’re great for semi-active families that don’t necessarily want a 60-pound dog.
Grooming & Coat Care
Fluffy, shaggy dogs may look great on Instagram, but it takes a lot of time to properly groom them. Some dogs require daily and weekly brushing, which eats up time that you may not have time to spare. However, grooming and proper coat care is a requirement and should never be overlooked.
Poodles are hypoallergenic and have thick or wavy, curly coats that grow out like human hair. They need proper grooming and brushing to prevent matting, a problem that happens all too often to poodles that don’t get brushed out enough. Thankfully, short coat cuts can help reduce grooming time.
Poodles, no matter the size variant, can be an excellent (and hypoallergenic) choice for your family. However, there are some caveats to each poodle size, regardless of their ability to handle kids. They’re extremely faithful, loyal dogs that will enjoy bonding with the family, though the Standard Poodle is our pick for the best family dog out of the three weight variations. If you’re looking for an all-around great, obedient dog for your family and you live at least a semi-active lifestyle, Poodles can be a great addition to your family.
Featured image credit: DGLImages, Shutterstock