How to Cord a Poodle Coat

Let the hair run wild and see cords form.
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The poodle is highly recognizable for her curly, fluffy coat. Some poodle owners eschew the traditional, though, and opt for the look of cords, or dreadlocks. Cords form naturally in a poodle’s hair with time and give the poodle a unique look among curly-coat dog breeds. Cording, and caring for a corded coat, take time and patience.

Step 1

Avoid brushing, clipping and washing your poodle for a long period of time. The hair forms mats naturally. Inspect your poodle daily and remove debris, such as dirt or leaves, that becomes tangled in the hair. Have a professional trim only the hair under her tail, where if it is left long it may become unsanitary.

Step 2

Pull the mats apart in even sections, about one-quarter-inch to one-half-inch wide, as soon as they start to form. The mats do not hurt or harm your poodle, but pulling too hard on her hair while separating them may cause discomfort, so proceed slowly.

Step 3

Roll the sections into tight coils, or dreadlocks, with your fingertips. Use a metal comb to help separate the hair. Rub a small amount of petroleum jelly on the hair to help hold each cord in place. Continue until the entire coat is corded.

Step 4

Wash your poodle’s corded coat once a week. Dilute the shampoo with water and apply it to her entire coat. Rinse the shampoo out completely and lightly mist her coat with a leave-in conditioner. After washing, dry your poodle thoroughly to prevent a mildew smell. Blot her coat with a clean, dry towel. Follow up with a hair dryer on low or medium setting. Hold it about 12 inches from her skin and finish drying her coat. As you dry the coat, separate the cords with your fingers and make sure you dry each one.


  • Always used shampoo and conditioner formulated for dogs.


  • Work with your dog's coat often to keep the cords separated. Work from the back of your poodle's neck down her back. This helps ensure you cover every inch.

Items You Will Need

  • Metal comb
  • Shampoo
  • Leave-in spray conditioner
  • Towel
  • Hair dryer