Poodles are one of the most diverse dog breeds out there. There are three “types” of poodles – the toy, miniature and standard. While they all have their own unique features, they all fall under the same governing standard by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and it's important to find the best dog food for Poodles that fit their nutritional profile.
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As a veterinarian, I'm often asked by pet parents of Poodles to give them my recommendation on the best Poodle dog food brands, but it's actually their individual dog that we must initially take a look at. The first place to start is consider your dog's current activity levels, health conditions, age and life stage, and other variables.
Below, I'm going to take a closer look at Poodles as a breed (all three sizes), their general needs and nutritional requirements, and we'll review some of the best dog foods for Poodles.
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Understanding Poodle's Nutritional Needs
Before we get into the best Poodle dog foods, we need to first understand this breed and its daily requirements. The poodle has been around for over a century and was developed in France and Germany as a duck retrieving dogs. Over the past 100 years the breed has been molded into the variations we know today.
The Poodle comes in three sizes: Toy, Miniature and Standard. Each type looks identical to the others with exception of the size. Toy Poodles tend to weigh under 10 pounds, miniatures fall between 15-20 pounds and the standard is rather large 50-70 pounds.
They all possess a thick, densely curly coat, floppy ears, a long tail and expressive dark eyes. The Toy Poodle lives the longest, up to 15 years, while the standard’s lifespan is about 10-11 years. Poodles are fun, energetic dogs that love to be around people. They tend to be very good with children and possess a natural athletic ability.
They have never forgotten their heritage – most are great swimmers and expert retrievers. They are a breed to be considered by avid sportsmen as they make excellent, intelligent duck dogs.
It's this active nature that makes it difficult to feed a Poodle. No matter what size you own, it's important that you find the best dog food for Poodles that will meet that breed's nutritional requirements, and above that, your specific dog's needs.
Talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for your Poodle. Your vet is the best place to start – they'll make recommendations based on your Poodle's age, weight, activity level and any health issues she may have. You should also do your own research, which is where this article comes into play and will help you pick the best dog foods for Poodles.
I'm going to look at some of the most vet recommended dog food brands for Poodles, give you my own recommendations for the best dog food for Poodles for different life stages and body conditions. But, I strongly encourage you to NOT try to make the switch of your Poodle's diet on your own. You have to consult your vet to make sure you're providing your dog with a diet that will meet all of her nutritional needs.
How to Feed a Poodle Dog
Before switching your dog to any new diet, always consult with a veterinarian. Remember that no article on the internet, including this one, can replace a consultation with a vet.
Toy and Miniature Poodle
Due to their small(er) size, I usually recommend Royal Canin’s Poodle puppy formula. Royal Canin provides excellent quality nutrition and a “pedigree” to back up their good reputation. They’ve also done the leg-work in developing the most digestible food for Poodle puppies.
The poodle has a long muzzle and a “scissors” bite. Unique flat, square kibble will make it easier for small mouths to pick up and chew. This food is recommended up to 10 months of age.
Standard poodles are less likely to have developmental orthopedic diseases, such as hip dysplasia, than other breeds. However, they are more at risk than their smaller poodle counterparts.
While there is a genetic component to these diseases, there are significant nutritional risk factors that play a part during puppyhood. These risk factors are rapid growth and excess dietary calcium intake.
I recommend Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Puppy food. This company has been a leader in pet nutrition since the early 1900's. Their large-breed puppy formula has been tweaked over the years, but it's always been one of he best dog food for Poodles. It provides consistent quality nutrition to promote health growth in standard Poodles.
It is fortified with omega-3 fatty acids like DHA to promote healthy brain, joint and skin development. All Hill’s Science Diet products are made in the USA from North American raw materials. If you are interested in Hill’s naturals line, they now have an Ideal Balance Large Breed Puppy Recipe.
The Best Dog Foods for Adult Poodles
If you are looking for a new food for your adult Poodle or are transitioning from puppy food to adult food for your Poodle, it is a good idea to consult with your veterinarian (I can't say that enough). Your vet can help determine your Poodle’s current body condition score. With this in hand, you can decide which ‘maintenance’ adult diet is best.
Normal Body Condition Poodles
A great place to start for an active, normal body weight/condition Toy or Miniature Poodle is with Royal Canin Poodle Breed Health Nutrition Adult. This is one of the best dog food for Poodles and is ideal for dogs over 10 months of age.
Royal Canin provides the right balance of nutrients to optimize a lean body condition over a lifetime. Just like with the Royal Canin Poodle puppy food, this food also has the optimal shape for digestibility.
Standard Poodles need similar nutrition to that of large breed dogs like Labradors. They also tend to stay on the thinner side, even when more sedentary. Poodles also are notorious for having bad teeth, and Eukanuba Large Breed Adult Dog Formula will help keep your dog’s dental health in top form.
Eukanuba is a premium brand that has a good track record for quality control. They also have a patented kibble shape/composition that helps to reduce tartar buildup within 28 days. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in this food help to protect your active dog’s joints.
Very Active/Working/Athletic/Hunting Poodles
This may seem silly, considering the “froo-froo” appearance of some poodles, but more and more are living quite athletic lives with their puppy parents. If your poodle is active in agility or hunting, she may need a higher calorie food than your average house dog. In this case, I recommend Native Performance Dog Food.
If your pup is training hard, this is the best dog food for Poodles that will meet his body's nutritional needs. Native provides different “levels” of nutrition, from Level 1 “off season, low activity” food to Level 4 for dogs engaging in intense activity 4-5 hours a day.
The Best Dog Foods for Poodle Seniors
Toy and miniature poodles are known for having terrible teeth throughout their lives. You can help combat this with daily tooth brushing and regular veterinary care. Your dog’s food can also play a part in keeping their mouth as healthy and pain-free as possible.
The toy and miniature poodle are also prone to what “old timer” veterinarians used to call “Poodle disease” – or luxating patellas. Luxating patellas (“floating kneecaps”) are very common in toy and miniature poodles. Over a lifetime, this knee problem can cause significant cartilage degradation and early arthritis.
Hill’s Science Diet Active Longevity Meal
With these common issues in mind, I normally recommend Hill’s Science Diet Active Longevity Meal. This dog food for Poodles looks as good as it sounds, in my opinion. It contains age-appropriate nutrition in an easily chewed and digested format.
It also contains antioxidants (cranberries), chondroitin sulfate for joint health and flaxseed for an omega-3 (EPA/DHA) boost.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Small & Toy Breed Age Defying Formula
I would also advise trying the Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Small & Toy Breed Age Defying Formula. This Poodle dog food has great reviews from toy poodle parents on Hill’s website, and I've had positive experience with it myself.
It also contains a great blend of highly digestible ingredients, mind-boosting antioxidants and joint supporting omega-3 fatty acids. This recipe does not contain any artificial flavors, preservatives or colors.
Eukanuba Senior Maintenance
Standard Poodles are considered “senior” or “geriatric” around 8 years of age. As they age, their nutritional requirements change as well. Joints start to ache and mental function can start to decline.
Active ingredients in my top pick for seniors will help you Lab go strong for as long as possible. Eukanuba Senior Maintenance is my recommendation for the best dog food for Poodles of the Standard type in their senior years.
Eukanuba is another high-quality dog food manufacturer with a great track record for quality products and high quality control standards. This food stands out due to its high level of antioxidants, which can help support proper cell function in aging dogs. It has also been proven to reduce tartar buildup on teeth by 46%.