Reviews of Books about Poodles
and Dog Obedience Training

As a poodle owner (or if you are dreaming of becoming a poodle owner), you can't have too many books about poodles! Here are some thoughts about several of these and my recommendations.


POODLE (Fogel; DK Publishing); part of a dog breed series, but 90% poodle-specific. Beautiful pictures! Especially helpful is the chart where dog characteristics are compared between poodle sizes, all poodles, all dogs: barking, house-trainability, gentleness with children, etc. What are the differences in characteristics between standards and toys, apart from size? Etc. An excellent book! Beautiful pictures of beautiful dogs. Especially cute puppy demonstrating training pix! Superb for the new owner and about-to-be-owner. Highly recommend. (See also his book on how dogs think: THE DOG'S MIND; Howell Book House. Most highly recommend, also.)

POODLE (Clark, Kennel Clubs). Again some boilerplate-type stuff, but well fluffed and poodle-slanted. Obviously, an effort was made to tailor the material, which is not the case with Donnelly (more below). Lots of good pix! Good supplement for Fogel. Excellent. Recommend.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR POODLE (Palika; TFH Publications) Palika is a very famous dog trainer, and her section on training is outstanding (though not poodle-specific). Cute poodle pix! Good supplement to Strickland (more below) and Fogel. Excellent. Recommend.

COMPLETE POODLE (Dahl; Howell Book House). The gold standard. If you want poodle details, here's the place. Lots of info on breed standard (of course), breeding, whelping, competitions, handling, grooming, etc. 100% poodle-specific. Pix not as good because they're B&W, but still cute poodles! Many line drawings showing body shape under all that hair, etc. Marvelous and complete reference book. Excellent. Highly recommend.

POODLES (Donnelly, TFH Publications). Overall, a disappointment. Hats off to the author on origins of the poodle (she cited iconography!) and also the etymology of the name. She differentiates between caniche and barbet, and so on; most authors use these terms interchangeably. Excellent material here; alas, excellent only for the first 13 pages. Selecting the puppy section obviously is a boilerplate chapter. In fact, so is the rest of the book! Most of book is heavily product-placement. Despite the disclaimer otherwise. Don't bother. Save your money.

And, of course, there are other general books on poodles. I have done a pretty exhaustive hunt and bought these books.


EXPERT OBEDIENCE TRAINING FOR DOGS (Strickland; Howell Book House). This woman "knows her onions." Detailed discussion of and techniques for training for each exercise. Very specific, very detailed, very applicable, very everything! No stone left unturned or unexplained. Also info on tracking, brace work, etc., which is very hard to come by. Truly superb. This is an absolute must if you are doing (or starting) obedience work. If you look at the picture of her sitting in front of a bookcase, it's wall-to-wall sterling - - all the prizes she's won. I can't remember now, but maybe she's titled 80 dogs in obedience. Impressive, whatever the number is. Impressive also describes this book. Get it.

TRAINING YOU TO TRAIN YOUR DOG (Saunders; Doubleday) is the obedience standard (and she had poodles). Some of her training ideas seem unnaturally severe. She was my aunt's godmother and I was always partial to her and had a soft spot in my heart for her book, but now that I've gotten back into obedience training, I much prefer Strickland's approach. And the clarity of her writing. I have the 1952 edition of the Saunders, and the clothing is a real hoot. I don't think there is a newer edition - surely there must be. If so, perhaps some of the draconian techniques ("punish your dog") have been rethought.

SMART TRAINERS - BRILLIANT DOG (Lewis; Canine Sports Productions) Awful book! Waste of money! Reams on Thorndyke and Skinner and operant conditioning; discussion of positive/negative rewards in the abstract. (Can we not cover Thorndyke and Skinner and operant conditioning in 15 pages or fewer?!) Very pedantic, dry. I ended up skimming the last 5/8ths. Had I not bought and paid good money for it (say, if someone had lent it to me), I would have quit after about 20 pages! (I recently tried again to read it, found it no more edifying, and quit even sooner because I already knew it wasn't going to get any better!) Even her attempt at organizing and contrasting the ideas didn't clarify a great deal or produce any more ideas and suggestions for hands-on obedience training. Not much applicable stuff, and certainly not for poodles! Don't bother. Save your money.


For a "beauty" book with tons of sweet pictures and really good info, go with Fogel, Clark, and Palika. Yes, all three. For all-about-poodles-all-the-time, go with Dahl. For obedience, go with Strickland.

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Last updated June 14, 2008.