Mature, purebred poodles boast a curly, not wavy, coat. One practical difference between curly and wavy poodle fur involves dog show competition. If your mature poodle's hair tends to waves rather than outright curls, you can't compete in conformation breed classes.
Poodle Coat Standard
The American Kennel Club, the governing body of canine breed competitions, states that the poodle's coat should be curly. It adds that the curly coat is dense throughout the body and of "naturally harsh texture." The breed standard also permits a corded coat, in which the cords hang evenly and tightly, although the actual length might vary. The cords are shorter on the tail puff and legs, and longer on the trunk or neck. The standard does not mention a wavy coat.
Poodle puppies have wavy coats, which are also softer than that of the adult dog. While the coat changes over time, how long it takes depends on the size of the poodle. In toy and miniature poodles, the wavy coat starts changing into a curly coat at approximately 9 months of age, and takes about 9 months to completely transition. By the time your smaller poodle reaches the age of a year-and-a-half, his curly coat should be complete. For standard poodles, the change in coat type begins between the ages of 9 to 16 months, but the entire transition takes just about three months to complete. By the age of 19 months -- approximately the same age as his smaller cousins -- the standard poodle sports an entirely curly coat.
Because they don't shed and are believed to be hypoallergenic, poodles are often crossed with other dog breeds. The results include the cockapoo -- poodle and cocker spaniel; schnoodle -- poodle and schnauzer; Labradoodle --- poodle and Labrador retriever and many more. Crossing dogs with dissimilar hair coats is always a gamble, because you could end up with a shedding, non-hypoallergenic canine that only faintly resembles a poodle. One of the older crosses, the cockapoo, tends to breed true, although many of these hybrid dogs have wavy rather than curly hair. A good breeder can tell you what type of coat a cockapoo puppy is likely to have when the pup is still quite young.
All poodles require regular grooming and clipping. Without this basic maintenance, they turn into a matted mess. Poodles whose curly coats haven't yet come in can sport a "puppy" clip, which is also an easy maintenance style for owners of older poodles who don't compete in the show ring. With a puppy clip, the tail base, feet, face and throat are shaved. Show dogs might appear in a continental, English saddle or sporting clip, each of which has strict rules about what areas of the body are shaved. If you have a poodle mix with a wavy coat, or a poodle still in his puppy coat phase, you can opt for a full coat, but that requires extensive grooming. A simpler option is the "teddy bear" clip, which just needs weekly brushing.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.