If you're looking for a tiny canine to share your life, the toy poodle and the papillon both make good choices. While completely different in appearance, they're both smart, loyal little companions. One possible deal breaker in the papillon versus poodle debate is the need for professional grooming. Papillons don't necessitate nearly as many trips to the groomer as the toy poodle. An unclipped poodle soon becomes a curly, unsightly mess.
Tiny Dog Sizes
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The American Kennel Club height standard for the toy poodle is quite strict. Once a dog stands more than 10 inches tall at the shoulder, it's no longer a toy but a miniature poodle. These tiny dogs weigh between 5 and 10 pounds at maturity. The papillon must stand between 8 and 11 inches tall at the shoulder. Any dog reaching 12 inches is ineligible for conformation competition. Papillons weigh between 3 and 12 pounds when full-grown.
Coat and Colors
While toy poodles must appear in solid shades, there's no such thing as a solid-colored papillon. Although "parti-colored" poodles exist, they aren't eligible for AKC registration. Poodle colors include white, black, brown, cream, apricot, gray, blue, silver and "cafe au lait," a faded brown. Papillons may be a variety of shades with white, but nonwhite colors must cover both ears entirely, with the color extending over the eyes. A white blaze is preferable. While the toy poodle's curly coat doesn't shed, the papillon's long, silky hair sheds very little.
Tiny Dog Temperaments
The pap is a good little watchdog, but it's easy for him to become a "yappy pappy" if you don't admonish him when he barks excessively. Toy poodles can hold their own as watchdogs, but don't tend to bark as much. He's also more likely to be a lapdog than a pap. Since both are so small and relatively fragile, they aren't a good choice for families with little children. For older kids, toy poodles can make wonderful companions. While he appears "froufrou," the inner poodle is really a tough little dog. Your pap might not realize he's a tiny guy, so keep him away from larger, strange dogs. He might decide to show them who's boss, and the result might not be pretty.
Tiny Dog Training
Both of these little dog breeds are smart, but the poodle -- toy, miniature or standard -- is among the most intelligent of canines. The poodle is more eager to please his person than a pap, but both take well to consistent training. Both breeds require a fair amount of exercise for their size, and both do well in competitive canine sports, such as agility. Housebreaking can take some time and patience with either breed.
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.