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Poodle Haircuts & Styles – Expert Groomer Explains

Poodle’s have some unmistakably unique grooming styles. Their curly coat and malleable texture is like a groomers personal playground. But achieving these results is still a challenge.

Katlin Primrose, a professional groomer, tells us about all the various Poodle haircut styles and trims out there.

(Also check her guide on Pomeranian haircuts for all the styles and trims).

3 different poodle haircuts on display

What’s With The Weird Hairstyles?

If you haven’t been involved in dog show competitions you may find ‘show poodle’ grooms to be a little exotic for your taste.

Despite the strangeness of it all – there is some reasoning behind the oddly shaped dogs. Show dog styles are based on an evolution of the rules from AKC and CKC show standards, which were developed to maximize the Poodle’s performance as water retrieving dogs.

The general ideas is that Poodles are a working breed, and some of these coat styles are meant to improve mobility while keeping parts of their body warm and protected.

Styles outside competitions are based on your personal taste or everyday practicality.

Whether you have a miniature, toy, or standard Poodle – we’ll lay down the methods and practicality behind each groom.

Exotic Grooms

Even more extreme are the fun Mastergroom Competitions, where groomers are challenged to come up with the most exotic or extreme styles (ever see that poodle trimmed and colored to look like a Zebra?)

We won’t be covering those styles here, but there are some pretty wild creations out there.

1. The Kennel Cut / Sporting Trim

Black Poodle with a Kennel Cut

Most classic Poodle styles call for some length left on their body, legs, and ears. Meanwhile a rounded “top knot” is left on the top of their head.

The Kennel Cut (sometimes called a Sporting Trim) follows these same rules, but with a few modifications. There’s a ‘poof’ left at the end of their tail. And their top knot is left as long as possible, while rounded and shaped by the groomer.

Face, feet, tail, and neck shaving are optional but are hallmarks of the breed.

The kennel cut is a modified version of a show groom that allows for easier day-to-day upkeep.

Kennel Cut diagram
  1. Short neck and face, classic poodle style to keep things clean
  2. Long “topknot” but can be shorter for easier maintenance
  3. ‘Poofy’ tail matches how long the topknot is to balance the look of the haircut
  4. Short legs and body make for easier brushing and a longer-lasting haircut.

2. Miami / Pom Pom Trim

Black Poodle with a Miami or Pom Pom trim

This trim is slightly more difficult to maintain, but a classic for poodle loving people who want to keep the “french poodle” style and flair.

This trim is known by several names: the Pom-pom Trim, Miami trim, and Vlown trim.

Things get confusing with all these different names. In which case, it’s best to present a picture to your groomer of the style you want (to avoid any confusion).

  1. Pompoms on legs keep the poodle style while a short body keep the cut easy to maintain.
  2. Medium or long topknot.
  3. Short face for cleanliness.
  4. Base of the tail is shaved for easy maintenance and cleanliness.

3. German Trim

Poodle with a German Trim

A much more stylish cut over the Kennel cut, but for those dogs that get constant ear infections or ear matting.

This trim is generally hand-scissored to create sharp angles to show off how pretty the dog is.

The ears are shaved, either with a short #10 blade or sometimes even shorter with a #5 or #7. This trim also has no tail poof, but is a favorite for more active dogs.

German Trim Diagram
  1. Short tail keeps things very easy to keep brushed and clean.
  2. Shaved ears, perfect for swimmers or dogs that get ear infections. Or for owners that aren’t able to brush longer ears.
  3. Longer shaped legs for style, but can be taken quite short .
  4. Shorter body with longer legs keep the haircut simple but flashy.

4. Lamb Cut

White Poodle with a Lamb Cut

This cut’s calling card is it’s longer legs. It prevents the “stick leg phenomenon” that’s often visible on poodles that receive shorter trims.

The Lamb Cut involves a shorter body with longer legs, and may be as short as a #7 blade body with #4 blade legs all the way up to a blade on the body with hand scissored legs.

There is no specific length for this trim. So be sure to inform your groomer on your preferred length.

Lamb Cut Diagram
  1. Long legs for a very flashy poodle look.
  2. Shaved tail balances the shaved face and neck keeping the trim looking neat and clean for the dog.
  3. Longer legs with scissored style mean this will be a more expensive cut, but a must for poodle owners that want to keep that lovely “show” pet trim.
  4. Topknot can stay as long or short as the owner prefers.

5. Teddy Bear / Labrador Trim

Teddy Bear cut on a Poodle

Another trim that has as many variations as you can think of. 

Typically their hair is trimmed to the same length throughout the entire body. But what differs from other grooms is the lack of a shaved face or feet.

There’s a lot of room for play here. Many owners make modifications based on personal preference. And most prefer a cute, round head more akin to a doodle.

This is another trim that wears many names – The Teddy trim, Lab trim, Lagotto trim, Retriever trim, etc… This style is as versatile as the dog that wears it.

Diagram demonstrating a teddy bear cut
  1. No shaved areas on the tail, but is not too fluffy that it’s difficult to brush.
  2. Legs are kept short to match the body style.
  3. Shorter but still fluffy head keep the “teddy bear” style without leaving too much hair to brush.
  4. Fluffy nose to make a cute face.

6. Continental Trim

Red Poodle showing off a Continental Trim

This is the stand-out groom for Poodles. And for adult dogs this is the AKC standard groom and most prominent at dog shows.

Be warned, maintaining this groom requires a lot of time and patience, and is not recommended for the average owner.

So why is this the AKC standard? The idea is Poodles are a water-retrieving breed, and their malleable coat texture lends itself to optimizing their performance. Just like the body of a race car is bent and formed to reduce wind resistance and maximize speed, every part of the Continental Poodle Groom was given a purpose.

Balls of fur around the legs are meant to keep joints warm, to improve mobility and endurance. The back half of the body is shaved short, to improve mobility when water retrieving. The face is cut short in order to maximize vision and stop debris getting stuck on their snout. Fur is left on the tip of the tail to avoid frost bite.

Continental Trim diagram
  1. Shaved rear for the dog to not be bogged down in the water while retrieving.
  2. Pompoms keep joints warm in cold water.
  3. Pompoms over hip joints also used to keep the dog’s joints warm when working.
  4. Show style in a long “spray up”.

This is pulled from the AKC guide on Continental clips:

In the “Continental” clip, the face, throat, feet, and base of the tail are shaved.

The hindquarters are shaved with pompons (optional) on the hips. The legs are shaved, leaving bracelets on the hindlegs and puffs on the forelegs.

There is a pompon on the end of the tail. The entire shaven foot and a portion of the shaven foreleg above the puff are visible.

The rest of the body is left in full coat but may be shaped in order to insure overall balance.

In all clips the hair of the topknot may be left free or held in place by elastic bands. The hair is only of sufficient length to present a smooth outline. “Topknot” refers only to hair on the skull, from stop to occiput. This is the only area where elastic bands may be used.

Want to learn more? We have a full picture guide on 31 haircut styles and trims for several different breeds.

Photo of author

Katlin Primrose

​​Katlin is ​a Certified Master Groomer (PIGA) and a registered Veterinarian Tech Assistant (working in emergency, exotics, and general practice). You can also find her in the show ring with her dogs, winning awards in rally obedience and show grooming with the Canadian Kennel Club. You might say she's multi-talented when it comes to pets.

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