Poodle Cuts: 12 Best Haircuts (From the 50s to Now), Care & Grooming Tips


Poodles have many shapes, sizes, and colors.

Because of their bloodlines, standard working poodles all had purely functional cuts. I’m sure at some point or another we have all seen the traditional haircut for poodles.

I remember the first time I saw a Poodle with what we now call the “Continental Cut” — it was at a dog show in the late ’90s. It was a far cry from the practical cuts I was used to seeing on working Poodles like my childhood companion, Max. He was a standard Poodle with a simple, functional trim.

This personal experience sparked my interest in the evolving world of Poodle grooming. It made me realize that each haircut is not just a style choice, but a reflection of the changing roles and perceptions of this versatile breed.

Therefore, I want us to discuss various Poodle cuts from 1950 to recent years, each representing a unique chapter in the story of this remarkable breed. But first:

The History of Poodle Haircuts: How it Started

Growing up with dogs, I’ve always been fascinated by the rich history and versatility of different breeds, especially Poodles. Their unique haircuts are not just a fashion statement but a significant part of their history.

Poodles, originally bred as water retrievers in Germany, have a rich legacy that’s deeply intertwined with their physical characteristics. Their name, derived from the German word “pudel,” literally means to splash in the water, which perfectly describes their initial role. The Poodle’s dense, curly coat, which is now often a canvas for creative grooming, was initially functional, designed to protect them while they worked in cold waters.

The traditional “Lion Cut,” which many associate with Poodles today, originated from a very practical need. When I first learned about this, I was intrigued by how a style so flamboyant actually had such utilitarian roots. As these dogs were used for retrieving game from water, their thick coats could become a hindrance, weighing them down. So, the rear half of the body was shaved for better mobility in the water, while the hair around vital organs and joints was left longer for protection against the cold. It’s a brilliant example of form following function.

As Poodles transitioned from water retrievers to aristocratic companions, their grooming styles evolved dramatically. In the courts of Europe, particularly France, Poodles became a symbol of luxury and high status. This change marked the beginning of more elaborate and aesthetic-focused grooming. It was a stark contrast to their functional haircuts and reflected the changing role of Poodles in society.

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, as Poodles became increasingly popular among the nobility, their haircuts became more diverse and elaborate. I remember seeing paintings and illustrations from this era, showcasing Poodles with extravagant styles, mirroring the fashion trends of the times.

In the modern era, particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries, Poodle grooming has continued to evolve, influenced significantly by dog shows and grooming competitions. This led to the development of styles like the Puppy Cut and the Teddy Bear Cut, which are more suited to the lifestyle of an average pet Poodle. It’s fascinating to see how these styles balance the practical aspects of coat care with aesthetic appeal.

Best Poodle Cuts

1. Lion Cut / Continental Cut

Lion Cut

The Lion Cut, also known as the Continental Cut, holds a special place in the world of Poodle grooming. It’s a haircut that I’ve always admired for its elegance and complexity, often reserved for show Poodles. This style features the back half of the Poodle’s body shaved closely, leaving distinct pompons (fluffy balls of fur) around the ankles. What truly sets this cut apart is the ‘mane’ of longer hair left around the chest and rib cage, along with a decorative pom on the tail and sometimes on the hips. The front legs and face also sport longer hair, adding to the dramatic effect.

Styling the Lion Cut requires a keen eye for detail and a skilled hand. It’s not just about the length but also about achieving the right proportions and symmetry. The shaved areas need to be smooth, while the pompons and mane require regular brushing and shaping to maintain their form. This cut is high maintenance, requiring frequent grooming sessions to keep it looking sharp.

From a practical standpoint, the Lion Cut is less suited for an everyday pet Poodle due to its intricate styling and upkeep needs. However, for those involved in dog shows or looking for a stunning, show-stopping style for their Poodle, this cut is unmatched.


Modified Continental Clip
The Modified Continental Clip is a variation of the traditional Lion Cut

This is the style most often seen in the show ring on standard-sized poodles as opposed to miniature or toy variants.

This pattern has started to go out of fashion in show rings due to new regulations that stipulate a dog cannot be shaved to the skin but must have a minimum of 0.5-1.5 inches of hair depending on their size.

Many owners now feel that, because of the new regulations, they cannot get the best coat definition, and consequently this trim has become almost redundant.

In general, this style takes a lot of time, effort, and experience to get right. If you are a novice, perhaps leave this cut to a professional groomer.

2. English Saddle Cut

English Saddle Cut

When I first encountered the English Saddle Cut, I was struck by its blend of tradition and sophistication. This cut is reminiscent of the Continental Cut but with its unique flair, commonly seen in dog shows. The English Saddle Cut features slightly more hair left on the back and hips compared to the Continental Cut, with elegant pompons on the hips and tail. The Poodle’s legs are also adorned with longer hair, giving the appearance of stylish ‘saddles.’

This appearance was particularly popular in the 1950s and 1960s, however, due to a large proportion of groomers arguing that it becomes difficult to see the lines of the dog when there is more fur, it became less common. This is the only other acceptable hairstyle for show-line poodles over the age of one.

3. Summer Cut

Summer Cut

Often known by groomers as the Kennel / Utility cut, the Summer clip is one of the more functional poodle haircuts.

It’s one of my go-to recommendations for Poodle owners during the warmer months. It’s a practical, no-fuss style that ensures the Poodle stays comfortable in hot weather. This cut involves trimming the coat very short, typically around an inch or less, over the entire body. The key is to create a uniform length that’s easy to manage and helps keep the dog cool.

As someone who appreciates both the aesthetic and functional aspects of Poodle grooming, I find the Summer Cut to be a great balance of both. It’s low maintenance, making it ideal for active Poodles or those who spend a lot of time outdoors. Regular brushing is still important to prevent matting, but overall, the grooming demands are significantly reduced compared to more elaborate styles.

From a health perspective, the Summer Cut can be a relief for Poodles, especially those with thick coats that can trap heat. It also allows for easier detection of any skin issues or parasites, which can be more challenging to spot with longer hair.

4. Cupcake Cut

Cupcake Cut

The Cupcake Cut is a whimsical and creative style that always brings a smile to my face whenever I see it. It’s not a traditional haircut you’d find in a typical Poodle grooming guide, but rather a fun, artistic expression that showcases the groomer’s creativity and the Poodle’s adaptable nature. This cut involves sculpting the Poodle’s hair to resemble a cupcake, often on the head or body, creating a playful and unique look.

The length and styling depend on the groomer’s vision, but it usually involves leaving a significant amount of hair to sculpt and shape. The ‘frosting’ of the cupcake is often crafted with careful trimming and sometimes even coloring, while the ‘base’ of the cupcake might be a shorter trim to contrast the detailed top.

Maintaining the Cupcake Cut can be challenging. It requires regular grooming sessions to keep the shape intact and prevent matting. This style is typically seen in grooming competitions or creative grooming showcases, where the focus is on the artistic possibilities of Poodle grooming rather than everyday practicality.

It’s important to note that while the Cupcake Cut is fun and visually striking, it’s not suitable for every Poodle. It requires a patient and relaxed dog, as the grooming sessions can be lengthy and more frequent.

5. Lamb Cut

Lamb Cut

Unlike other cuts and hairstyles on this list, the Lamb appearance is very versatile and is consequently not just seen on Poodle but many other breeds too.

It’s a classic and charming style that I often recommend for Poodle owners who prefer a functional yet aesthetically pleasing look. Further, it’s particularly suitable for those who want their Poodles to have a fluffy, soft appearance reminiscent of a lamb. This cut involves keeping the coat longer than many other styles, but not so long that it becomes unmanageable.

Hence, the Poodle’s hair is trimmed to a moderate length over the body, typically around 1 to 2 inches, giving a plush, even look. The key feature of this style is the longer hair on the legs, which creates a beautiful contrast and emphasizes the Poodle’s elegant gait. The face and tail are usually trimmed neatly but left long enough to maintain the breed’s characteristic expression.

From my perspective, the Lamb Cut strikes a perfect balance between practicality and style. It’s more manageable than show cuts like the Continental or English Saddle, yet it still showcases the Poodle’s luxurious coat. Regular brushing and grooming are essential to prevent matting and keep the coat shiny and healthy.

What I appreciate most about the Lamb Cut is its adaptability. It’s suitable for a wide range of activities, from leisurely walks in the park to more energetic endeavors. The length is enough to provide insulation during cooler weather, yet it’s not overly burdensome in warmer conditions.

6. Puppy / Teddy Bear Cut

Puppy Cut

Exactly what it sounds like, this clip is designed to make poodles look like puppies!

It’s a cut that I’ve always found endearing and suitable for Poodle owners who want a low-maintenance yet charming look for their furry friends. The Poodle’s hair is trimmed to a uniform length all over the body, typically around 1 to 2 inches, to create a neat appearance. The face is trimmed to maintain the Poodle’s signature facial expression, and the ears are usually left with a bit more fluff.

I’ve often recommended the Puppy Cut to Poodle owners who want a style that’s easy to manage and maintain. It’s perfect for active Poodles and those who enjoy outdoor adventures. What I love most about the Puppy Cut is its versatility. It suits Poodles of all sizes, from toys to standards, and it can be adapted to the owner’s preferences.

7. Dutch / Sporting Cut

Dutch Cut

The Dutch is also known as a Sporting Cut by the UK Kennel Club and is the most popular of all the coats for show-line dogs suitable for the Stud-Dog or Brood-Bitch classifications.

This cut is often preferred by those who value simplicity and ease of maintenance while still appreciating the Poodle’s distinctive appearance. Your Poodle’s hair is trimmed short on the body, typically around half an inch to an inch in length. The face, feet, and tail are also tidily trimmed, creating a uniform and well-groomed appearance.

It’s a versatile choice that suits Poodles of all sizes, from toy to standard. While regular brushing is still essential to prevent matting, the shorter length reduces the likelihood of tangles and keeps the coat manageable. It’s an excellent choice for Poodle owners who want their dogs to look tidy and well-groomed without the commitment of more complex styles.

8. Miami Cut

Miami Cut

Often called the Bikini cut, the Miami clip is a great match for owners who are looking to give their dogs a little bit of style whilst still maintaining a simple appearance. It’s similar to the Dutch because the dog is shaved short all over, minus a Pompom on the dog’s legs and tail.

These pompons add a playful and eye-catching element to the look, giving the Poodle a unique and chic appearance. The legs are often left with longer, neatly trimmed hair to complement the overall style.

From my perspective, the Miami Cut is a perfect choice for Poodle owners who want their dogs to be the center of attention. It’s a style that radiates confidence and a zest for life. This cut is often seen in urban settings and among Poodles who love to strut their stuff at social gatherings.

This style requires regular grooming sessions to maintain the defined lines and pompons, but it’s a manageable choice for those who enjoy keeping their Poodles looking chic and stylish.

9. Town and Country Cut

Town and Country Cut

Your Poodle’s body hair is trimmed to a moderate length, typically around 1 to 2 inches, resulting in a well-groomed and polished appearance. The legs and tail are left slightly longer, giving your dog a graceful and refined silhouette. The face is also neatly trimmed to maintain a distinguished expression, emphasizing the Poodle’s elegant features.

What sets the Town and Country Cut apart is its adaptability. Whether you prefer a slightly shorter or longer version, this cut can be tailored to your Poodle’s unique characteristics, making it a versatile choice.

I find the Town and Country Cut to be a timeless look that can transition effortlessly from formal occasions to everyday life.

10. T Cut / Scandinavian Clip

T Cut

The T Cut, also known as the Scandinavian Clip, is a practical and functional grooming style. The coat is trimmed short, usually around an inch or less, creating a uniform length over the entire body. What sets this style apart is the tail, which is left slightly longer and shaped into a distinct T shape, giving the haircut its name. This unique feature adds a touch of elegance to an otherwise practical cut, emphasizing clean lines and a tidy appearance.

It suits Poodles of all sizes, and it’s easy to maintain. It requires less frequent grooming sessions compared to longer styles. The face should also be tidily groomed to preserve the Poodle’s well-defined expression.

11. Corded Poodle Coat

Corded Poodle Coat
Poodles with a corded coat will require very little grooming.

It’s a distinctive and unique grooming style that sets the Poodle apart from its more commonly seen counterparts. While it may be challenging to picture, if left unkept, a Poodle’s coat will naturally grow out and mat into ropes or cords, creating a truly one-of-a-kind look.

This style, although initially popular during the 1950s and 60s, has significantly fallen out of favor in recent times. In 2020, it became exceptionally rare to spot a Poodle with a corded coat. Interestingly, this style has found popularity among other breeds, such as the Komondor, where corded coats are still cherished.

To achieve the unique corded style, owners must embark on a process similar to dreadlocking human hair. This isn’t a task to be taken lightly; it requires careful attention and maintenance. Allowing the coat to mat naturally can cause considerable discomfort for the dog. On top of that, I find that corded coats are increasingly challenging to bathe, and as a result, your dog will carry a distinct odor, unlike your average canine companion.

12. Modern Cut

Modern Cut

The Modern Cut is a contemporary and stylish grooming choice for Poodles, reflecting the evolving tastes and trends of today’s pet owners. A Poodle’s body hair is typically trimmed to a short, even length, often around half an inch to an inch. This results in a clean and streamlined look that is both easy to maintain and visually appealing. The legs and tail may also be neatly trimmed to maintain proportion and balance.

This style requires regular grooming sessions to keep the coat looking sharp and prevent matting, but it’s not a high-maintenance cut.

Poodle Hair Characteristics

Poodle hair is distinctive for its curly and dense nature. It’s unlike straight hair found in some other breeds, and those curls give your dog a unique and charming appearance. What’s even better is that Poodle hair is hypoallergenic, which means there are fewer allergens in your home.

One notable feature of Poodle hair is that it keeps growing. I’ve noticed that Poodle hair just continues to grow, which is why regular grooming is essential to keep it at a manageable length. There are two primary types of Poodle coats: the more common curly coat and the rare corded coat. I’ve seen both, and they each have their unique charm. The curly coat is soft and fluffy, while the corded coat forms distinctive rope-like strands.

Poodle hair comes in a wide range of colors, including black and white. These dogs love water, and fortunately, their hair is water-resistant. That’s why they can enjoy a swim without getting weighed down. Additionally, in hot summer months, their hair helps them stay cool.

Regular brushing is a must to prevent matting. I suggest using a slicker brush and a metal comb to keep their curly hair tangle-free. Start from the tips and work your way to the roots to avoid discomfort. Depending on the grooming style, I recommend light trims at home and a professional groomer for more intricate cuts. When you trim at home, use high-quality clippers designed for dog grooming.

Health Considerations for a Perfect Coat

Maintaining a perfect coat for Poodles goes beyond just grooming; it also involves paying attention to their overall health. A healthy Poodle will have a more vibrant and beautiful coat. Here, we’ll explore several important health considerations and tips to ensure your Poodle’s coat looks its best.

Nutrition Matters

A nutritious diet is the foundation of a healthy Poodle coat. Properly balanced dog food that includes essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids can promote coat health from within. I’ve noticed that when a Poodle’s diet incorporates high-quality dog food, the coat tends to be shinier and softer.

Hydration is Key

Proper hydration is crucial for a glossy and well-hydrated coat. Ensuring that your Poodle has access to clean water at all times helps maintain their coat’s moisture levels. Dehydrated dogs may experience dry and brittle hair.

Skin Health

Healthy skin is the foundation of a beautiful coat. Regularly check your Poodle’s skin for any signs of dryness, redness, or irritation. If you notice issues, consult a veterinarian to address them promptly.

Allergies and Sensitivities

Poodles can be prone to allergies and sensitivities, which can manifest as skin and coat problems. If your Poodle shows signs of itching, excessive licking, or hair loss, it’s essential to identify and manage any potential allergens.

Parasite Control

External parasites like fleas and ticks can wreak havoc on a Poodle’s coat. Regularly administer preventive treatments to keep these parasites at bay. Parasite-free Poodles tend to have healthier and more beautiful coats. A veterinarian can detect and address any underlying health issues that may impact your Poodle’s coat.

FAQs on Poodle Cuts

How often should I groom my Poodle’s coat?

Regular grooming is essential for Poodles. Depending on the haircut style and coat length you prefer, grooming can range from every 4 to 8 weeks. However, brushing should be done more frequently to prevent matting.

Can I groom my Poodle at home, or should I visit a professional groomer?

It depends on your comfort and the complexity of the cut you want. Basic grooming like brushing, bathing, and light trimming can be done at home, but intricate or show cuts are best left to professional groomers.

Are there any specific tools I need for Poodle grooming?

Yes, you’ll need tools like slicker brushes, metal combs, clippers, scissors, and dog-specific shampoos and conditioners. The choice of tools may vary based on the haircut style.

Can I choose any haircut style for my Poodle?

Poodles are known for their versatile coats, so you have many options. However, the haircut style should align with your Poodle’s comfort and lifestyle. Consult a groomer to find the best fit.

How do I prevent matting in my Poodle’s coat?

Regular brushing is the key to preventing matting. Brush your Poodle’s coat at least a few times a week, paying special attention to areas prone to tangles, like behind the ears and under the armpits.

Are there seasonal haircuts for Poodles?

Some Poodle owners opt for shorter cuts during hot summer months to help their dogs stay cool. Longer cuts with insulation are preferred during colder seasons. It’s a matter of comfort and climate.

Go for a Stylish and Suitable Poodle Haircut

You can explore different haircuts for Poodles but while creativity in grooming is encouraged, it’s crucial to prioritize the dog’s comfort and health above all else. For example, Poodles have various coat types, including curly, wavy, and corded. The choice of haircut should consider the natural texture of the coat. For example, a curly coat may work well with a Teddy Bear cut, while a wavy coat may be suited for a Continental cut.

Additionally, the haircut should align with your Poodle’s lifestyle and activity level. I find that active dogs benefit from shorter cuts, while less active ones may prefer longer styles for warmth and protection. Another consideration is the personality and appearance because a style should complement the features and character of your pet.

Make sure to let us know how you cut your Poodle in the box below.

About John Woods 299 Articles
John Woods is the founder of All Things Dogs, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, graduate in Animal Behavior & Welfare and recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.


  1. 4 of my Poodles (1 Toy, 2 Miniatures & 1 Standard) are Miami Cut in summer and Lamb Cut in Winter. One of the Miniatures will be changed to Lion Cut as her coat grows out and my new puppy boy, also a miniature, will be Lion Cut. Poodle Fanatic for past 25 years and NEVER had 1 litter in my house!

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