Eimear has had a lifelong connection with poodles. As a child, one of her aunts owned them, and when Eimear was a young adult, her mother began to keep them. Eimear has gone on to own several generations of Poodles, breeding from her favourite animals and keeping some of their offspring. Luigh is now sixteen years old, and Rossa, aged ten, is her son.
Many years ago, Poodles were much more popular than they are now in Ireland. These days, other breeds, such as the Bichon Frise, which can be easier to maintain, are seen more often. Poodle-crosses, such as Labradoodles, are more in vogue than the pure pedigree dog.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POODLES
Many people don’t understand the terminology used to describe the different types of Poodles: “Toy Poodles” are the smallest, at less than eleven inches tall at the shoulders, “Miniature Poodles” measure between eleven and fifteen inches tall, and “Standard Poodles” are over fifteen inches (but they are often much bigger, taller than a Labrador). Apart from the size difference, each of the different types of Poodles are identical. They are active, intelligent and elegant dogs: Eimear has found that the smallest size – the Toy Poodle – has suited her best.
One of the most distinctive features of Poodles is the remarkable coat, with dense, curly fur that grows longer and longer rather than moulting like most breeds of dog. The advantage of this is that Poodles don’t shed as much fur around the home, making them good pets for people who have allergies. The disadvantage is that they need much more brushing, trimming and coat maintenance than other breeds.
It can take around ten hours every week to maintain the perfectly preened coiffure of a show-quality Standard Poodle. Most pet owners are happy to avoid this time consuming level of high style, choosing a shorter, easier to maintain coat for their dogs. Even then, regular brushing is needed, as well as a visit to a groomer every six weeks to have the coat trimmed.
GROOMING YOUR POODLE
Eimear used to take her dogs regularly to a professional groomer, but as Poodles have slipped out of fashion, so has the availability of groomers who have the skill and knowledge to trim their coats properly. Eimear found herself taking a whole day to get her dogs groomed: travelling for an hour each way to the groomer, then waiting for the job to be done. She sometimes stayed while the dogs were being groomed, with the groomer asking her to hold the animals to help. She gradually learned about the intricacies of trimming poodles, and nearly ten years ago, she decided to start doing her own dogs.
She bought a set of professional electric clippers and some sharp grooming scissors, and she set about the task: she made some mistakes in the early days, but she now has it down to a fine art.
First she brushes the dogs to make sure that there are no tangles: she has a range of brushes and combs to do this. Then she takes out the electric clippers, trimming the fur around their faces and paws, along their backs and on their undersides. Finally, she takes out the long, sharp grooming scissors, and trims the rest of the coat. When she’s finished cutting, she washes the dogs with no-tangle shampoo and blow dries them. She does a little fine tuning with scissors and the job is done.
Grooming your own pet is not easy: it takes Eimear over two hours for each dog, but she enjoys doing it, and she saves money. It would cost her €100 or more every six weeks to have the two dogs trimmed professionally.
If you use a dog groomer, would you consider doing it yourself?
- Dogs like Poodles need to be trimmed every 6 – 8 weeks
- It can cost €60 – 80 to have this done professionally
- You can groom dogs yourself if you have plenty of time and patience
- Professional dog grooming equipment can be bought online at Christies