Two hair styles are allowed by the American Kennel Club for adult standard poodles: the English saddle and the continental. Several other hairstyles are options for your canine pal if you're not showing him, so choose one based on your preference and how much grooming you're willing to do.
Continental or English Saddle
The continental and the English saddle are the only two clips the AKC approves for adult standard poodles in all showing classes. In both cuts, the face, throat, feet, base of the tail and forelegs are shaved close and the topknot, chest and midsection are left long. In the English saddle clip, a thin blanket of hair is left on the hindquarters and hind legs, whereas these are shaved close in the continental clip. In both clips, pompoms are left above the feet on the forelegs and at the tip of the tail. In the continental clip, poodles also have pompoms above the hind feet.
The puppy cut is an AKC-approved show clip for any standard poodle younger than 12 months old. The feet, face and base of the tail are shaved close, leaving a pompom at the end of the tail. The rest of the coat is left long but shaped to complement the top line and give a neat appearance. The topknot -- the hair on your poodle's head -- is left long and can be fixed into a ponytail. You can keep a dog of any age in the puppy cut to minimize necessary grooming time.
Utility or Sporting Clip
The utility or sporting clip is permissible by the AKC, but only for Stud Dog, Brood Bitch or noncompetitive classes. The face, throat and feet are shaved close, as well as the base of the tail to leave a pompom. The rest of the coat, including the topknot, is clipped or scissored to a length of no more than 1 inch, although the hair on the legs can be slightly longer.
One of the hairstyles that your standard poodle can sport is the natural look. A poodle's natural coat is a few inches long, curly or wavy and shaggy-looking. If you want to keep your dog's coat as nature intended, you'll have to put in a lot of grooming time to keep your dog's fur tangle-free and to keep his coat from getting matted. You may also need to trim the hair around his eyes to stop it infringing on his vision. However, if you live in a warm climate, he may require a bit of a trim during hotter months.
Several pet cuts, not suitable for the show ring, are convenient if you want a low-maintenance clip for your standard poodle. The lamb clip is similar to the sport clip, but the legs are left fluffy and the coat can be longer than an inch all over, depending on preference. The summer clip entails shaving the feet, face and base of the tail, with pompoms shaped above each foot and the base of the tail. The rest of the coat is clipped quite short, according to the owner's preference.