In short–absolutely! Poodles are AKC and therefore can legitimately have the papers to prove it along with the ability to compete in AKC dog shows.
Poodles have been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 1887. To compare, the AKC has been registering dog breeds since 1878, and 197 breeds currently make the cut. Poodles have been an established breed with the club for longer than most!
The AKC recognizes that poodles are a very popular breed, placing them at the 7th most popular out of 202. However, we know that “poodle” can mean many different things. With all sizes, coat colors, and mixed breeds considered, which poodles are AKC?
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What About My Miniature Poodle?
First things first, let’s consider the size. A poodle is considered a standard poodle by the AKC if it’s over 15 inches tall, a miniature poodle if it’s 15 inches or less, and a toy poodle if it’s shorter than 10 inches tall (all measuring at the shoulder).
Weight isn’t considered as part of the standard. The only difference between each size is, well, its size. Meaning both a 22-inch tall (standard) poodle and a 9-inch tall (toy) poodle are both judged in the same way overall in dog shows, given that both are judged to have proportionate physical features according to size.
What really matters to the American Kennel Club is a host of characteristics that suggest pure poodle-hood. For one, a poodle should have a solid-colored coat and an “air of distinction and dignity,” as the standard declares.
Are Poodle Mixes Included?
We have sad news if you’re hoping your cockapoo puppy will be able to get AKC papers: mixed breeds (also known as oodles or doodles) are NOT recognized by the AKC. The reasoning is that it’s a registry meant to lay out crystal clear expectations of every distinct breed.
The idea is that the genetic variation in hybrid breeds could lead to unexpected traits that would not at all fit what’s considered a poodle. As AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson told Reuters of Labradoodles: “one [puppy] may be tall, one may be small, one may have a poodle coat, one may have a Labrador coat.”
The irony is that doodle breeders are likely to apply rigorous standards to the dogs they breed, too! The lack of recognition by the American Kennel Club may not mean as much as you’ve been led to believe.
For instance, although there are about 70 types of oodles, you can expect to pay quite a bit more for a Goldendoodle or labradoodle compared to a purebred (and AKC-recognized) poodle. This discrepancy may be explained by overall dog breed popularity, i.e., there is more demand for rarer dogs, but it may surprise you to learn that much of the difference in cost is due to the effort it takes to breed oodles.
Take the different generations of Goldendoodles. F1, short for first-generation crossbreed puppies, is less likely to win the genetic lottery of the poodle’s hypoallergenic coat than F1b (F1 Goldendoodle x poodle), so F1b puppies are quite expensive. F1b Goldendoodles each take two more generations’ worth of time, effort, and money invested than a purebred poodle.
However, it’s possible to argue that poodles have taken many more generations overall to produce their traits. “Which poodles are AKC?” could appropriately be rephrased as “which poodles have been intentionally and consistently bred for long enough that you know what the dog will be like?” But that’s a little wordy.
A final doodle rebuttal: we’re able to differentiate between a Goldendoodle and a Labradoodle because there are, in fact, widely recognized defining characteristics of each. Poodle crossbreeds, especially the most popular ones, are held to standards to judge how “typical” a particular dog is. The AKC question is merely a question of where the standards are coming from.
What Does It Mean to be Recognized by the American Kennel Club?
You may be wondering how much AKC papers really matter if doodles are also carefully bred for their traits and fetch a higher price than their poodle relatives. It may simply be a matter of time before your Maltipoo is considered AKC. Ultimately, though it may be a dog breed authority, the AKC can and has changed its mind about which dog breeds belong in its registry.
That’s not to say that standards are meaningless. Standards make sense on one hand to give legitimate breeders some credibility; a certified purebred will be more likely to be like the generations before her than her accidentally-conceived cousin mutt.
But at the same time, all this time spent wondering which poodles are AKC would be better spent enjoying your dog’s company, regardless of his genetic makeup. Today’s mutt might be tomorrow’s AKC-recognized Bernadoodle, and he’s always been a good boy.