6 Toy Poodle Common Health Issues [+Signs and Prevention]

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toy poodle dressed like a doctor

Smart and loyal, Toy Poodles are generally healthy, but careless breeding practices have left the breed vulnerable to developing certain health issues.

If you’re thinking about adding a Toy Poodle to your pack, it helps to know about the conditions that commonly affect the breed. That way, you’ll be able to identify issues and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Just because the diseases below are commonly seen in Toy Poodles, that’s not a guarantee that your furbaby will develop any of these issues. However, most dogs deal with at least one health challenge in their lifetime. This list provides you with the most likely culprits for Toy Poodles.

Health problems that commonly affect Toy Poodles include orthopedic issues, disc disease, eye conditions, epilepsy, Cushing’s disease, Von Willebrand’s disease, and bladder stones.

In this article, I’ll describe six health issues that commonly affect toy poodles and when each condition usually occurs in their life cycle. I’ll also provide you with a list of signs to watch for in your furbaby and give you some health care and prevention tips.

Common health problems

Toy Poodles are generally healthy and live long lives, but they can suffer from certain genetically linked health issues due to poor breeding practices.

Orthopedic Issues

Toy poodles are prone to developing Legg Calve Perthes Disease and Luxating Patellas.

Small breeds, including Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Shih Tzus, are prone to developing Legg Calve Perthes disease and luxating patellas.

Both Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease and luxating patellas can cause problems in puppies. However, symptoms of joint degeneration from luxation usually develop later in life. 

When a Toy Poodle has Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, the ball of the hip joint dies, causing severe pain. In the case of luxating patellas, dogs are born with a shallow knee joint, which allows the kneecap to shift out of place and causes intermittent lameness.

Signs of these conditions in your Toy Poodle include:

  • Holding one hind leg off the ground
  • Progressive lameness in the hind limb
  • Cracking/popping sound in the affected knee
  • Intermittent skipping  
  • Inability to bear weight on one or both legs
  • Reduced hip joint movement

Without treatment, Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease can lead to bone fractures and worsening lameness. Likewise, luxating patellas can result in joint damage and degenerative arthritis if it’s left untreated.

 Because these conditions are heritable, your best preventative measure involves working with a trustworthy breeder. Select puppies that don’t have a family history of either health issue.

If your Toy Poodle has Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, your veterinarian can perform surgical removal of the head and neck of the femur.  The treatment for patellar luxation involves anti-inflammatory medications, restricted activity, joint supplements, and physical therapy.

Disc Disease

Also known as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), Toy Poodles are predisposed to developing disc disease as they age. 

IVDD affects several dog breeds, including Toy Poodles, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Pekingese, Dobermans, and Cocker Spaniels.

Because IVDD is a degenerative disease, symptoms usually manifest in middle-aged or senior Poodles.

When a dog develops IVDD, the jellylike cushion between the spine’s vertebrae breaks down and ruptures or bulges outward.  The condition places pressure on the spinal cord and can cause pain, lameness, or paralysis in dogs.

Signs of IVDD include:

  • Reluctance to move, climb, or jump
  •  Feet knuckling under
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Hunched back
  • Stiff neck or gait
  • Moderate pain over neck/back
  • Limb weakness/partial paralysis
  • Severe pain and paralysis in advanced stages

Some toy poodles with mild cases of IVDD can survive without treatment, but their quality of life will be reduced. However, if your furbaby has advanced disc disease, his condition will continue to degenerate and lead to eventual paralysis and a shortened lifespan unless he receives treatment.

The first way to potentially prevent IVDD in Toy Poodles is to purchase a puppy from a trustworthy breeder. Because obesity can be a risk factor, you should also keep your furbaby at an ideal weight. If your Poodle has a history of IVDD, limit his activity to prevent a recurrence.

Treatment for IVDD may vary depending on the stage and severity of your Toy’s disease. It may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Pain medications
  • Cage rest/exercise restrictions
  • Surgical removal of herniated discs (severe cases)

Eye Conditions

Toy Poodles are prone to developing various eye conditions, including cataracts, distichiasis, entropion, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). 

Eye conditions affect various breeds, including Toy Poodles, Siberian Huskies, Cocker Spaniels, French Bulldogs, Cavalier, King Charles Spaniels, and Lhasa Apsos.

Toy Poodles are born with anatomy that predisposes them to distichiasis and entropion, which usually manifest in the puppy stage. However, cataracts and PRA are progressive conditions that generally develop in mature dogs. 

A hardening and clouding of the lens causes cataracts in Toy Poodles. When dogs have distichiasis, the eyelashes grow inward towards the eye, while dogs with entropion have an inward rolling eyelid. PRA is a slow degeneration of the retina over time, which eventually causes blindness.

Signs of the above eye conditions include:

  • Cloudiness in the eye lens 
  • Night blindness 
  • Stumbling, bumping into objects, Squinting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye redness
  • Blinking or holding the eye shut
  • Yellow or green eye discharge
  • Tearing

Without treatment, cataracts can progress to blindness, while distichiasis and entropion can cause eye damage and corneal ulceration. There is no known treatment for PRA.

The above conditions have a genetic link, so your first line of prevention involves working with a reputable breeder. You can also promote eye health by feeding your furbaby quality food that’s rich in omega fatty acids. To reduce the risk of cataracts, limit your pup’s UV ray exposure.

When Toy Poodles develop cataracts, the treatment of choice is surgical removal of the lens. Distichiasis and entropion also require surgical correction. 


Toy Poodles have a genetic tendency to develop epilepsy, a neurological condition that causes seizures.

Breeds prone to congenital epilepsy include Toy Poodles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Border Collies, and others. 

Seizures triggered by epilepsy in Toy Poodles usually don’t begin until your furbaby is about 1-5 years old.

Dogs with epilepsy experience bursts of abnormal electrical activity in their brains. The result is often erratic, involuntary body movements. The location of the electrical impulses will determine the type and severity of your Toy Poodle’s seizures.

Signs of an epileptic seizure include:

  • Whining before and after the seizure
  • Muscle twitches/tremors
  • Paddling of the limbs or thrashing
  • Involuntary urination/defecation
  • Chomping/tongue-chewing
  • Drooling/foaming at the mouth
  • Fainting/collapsing

When you first observe a seizure in your Toy Poodle, contact your veterinarian immediately. There may be an underlying cause like a tumor, or there may be no identifiable cause(idiopathic). Either way, future seizures could be more severe or become life-threatening without appropriate treatment.

Because epilepsy has a genetic link in Toy Poodles, prevention includes selecting a puppy that has no familial history of epilepsy. If your furbaby has a seizure, take action to protect him during the episode by gently moving him away from open stairs or furniture(avoid the head and mouth). Take your dog to the ER if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.

If your Poodle’s seizures have a known cause, treatment is directed at the underlying condition. When epilepsy is idiopathic, antiseizure medications are the treatment of choice.

Cushing’s Disease

Toy Poodles are particularly prone to developing Cushing’s disease, which is an endocrine disorder involving the adrenal gland.

Cushing’s disease affects several breeds, including Toy Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, Bichon Frises, Lhasa Apsos, and Terriers.

As a progressive disease, Cushing’s disease is usually first noticeable in adulthood.

With Cushing’s disease, the adrenal gland overproduces cortisol. Increased levels of this hormone trigger metabolic changes in your Toy Poodle’s body and lead to a range of health problems.

Signs of Cushing’s Disease include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Potbelly appearance
  • Panting
  • Increased thirst/urination
  • Thin skin
  • Poor hair coat
  • Lethargy

If Cushing’s isn’t treated in your Poodle, it can trigger a host of health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased risk of infections.  

Because Cushing’s disease in Toy Poodles is usually a genetically linked condition, the best way to prevent it in your furbaby is to purchase a puppy from a trustworthy breeder. That way, you can confirm that the family line has no history of Cushing’s disease.

The treatment for Cushing’s disease may involve surgical removal of adrenal gland tumors, radiation treatment of large pituitary tumors, or medical management.


Another endocrine disorder that commonly affects Toy Poodles is diabetes.

Breeds that are prone to developing diabetes include Toy Poodles, Terriers, Bichon Frises, Keeshounds, Labrador Retrievers, and Samoyeds.

Diabetes is most commonly seen in middle-aged or older dogs.

With diabetes, the body fails to produce or respond to insulin properly. This hormone is essential to cells to utilize blood glucose for energy. When there’s insufficient insulin, glucose stays in the bloodstream, and cells are energy-starved.  

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Cloudy eyes/cataracts
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic/recurring infections

Untreated diabetes is potentially life-threatening for your Toy Poodle. The increased sugar in the blood can cause blood vessel, liver, and nerve damage. Long term, your pooch will have a reduced quality of life and a shorter life span.

Prevention of diabetes includes buying puppies from a trustworthy breeder and family lines that have no history of diabetes. You should also keep your Toy Poodle at a healthy weight because obesity can induce diabetes in some dogs.

Insulin replacement and weight management are the treatments of choice for Poodles with diabetes.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

Toy Poodles have a genetic predisposition for developing a bleeding disorder known as Von Willebrand’s disease.

Several breeds, including Toy Poodles, Akitas, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Irish Wolfhounds, and Shetland Sheepdogs, have a genetic link to Von Willebrand’s disease. 

Some dogs that carry the faulty gene will never show signs of Von Willebrand’s disease, but the condition can manifest at any age.

When Toy Poodles suffer from Von Willebrand’s disease, they lack a blood clotting protein known as Von Willebrand’s factor. Without this factor, your dog may experience uncontrolled bleeding following trauma.

Symptoms of Von Willebrand’s disease include:

  • Prolonged bleeding after an injury or other trauma
  • Uncontrolled or excessive bleeding during surgery
  • Bleeding from the gums or nose
  • Bloody urine

Without treatment, Toy Poodles with Von Willebrand’s disease may suffer anemia and death from blood loss.

Preventing Von Willebrand’s disease in Toy Poodles starts with selecting puppies from family lines that have no history of the bleeding disorder. Additionally, your veterinarian should screen your furbaby by running a clotting time test before any surgeries. 

There is no treatment for Von Willebrand’s disease. If your dog has a bleeding incident, your veterinarian can perform a blood transfusion as supportive therapy.

Bladder/Kidney Stones

Poodles are one of the dog breeds that are predisposed to developing stones in their kidneys or bladder.

Urinary tract stones are common in toy and small breeds, including Toy Poodles, Bichon Frieses, Maltese, and Chihuahuas. 

This painful condition is most likely to occur in adult Toy Poodles.

Signs of urinary tract stones in the kidney or bladder include:

  • Excessive urination/loss of bladder control
  • Inability, straining, or reluctance to pee
  • Licking the genital area
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy or discolored urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy/inactivity

Untreated bladder and kidney stones can irritate the bladder and cause infections. The calculi can also lodge in the ureter or urethra, causing blockages and potential death from sepsis/shock. 

Prevention of bladder and kidney stones is difficult, but some lifestyle changes may help reduce the risk. Talk with your veterinarian about your Toy’s diet and find one that encourages urinary health. Provide unlimited access to fresh water, and encourage your furbaby to drink. Observe your pooch’s urination habits to catch signs of trouble early.

The most common way to treat urinary tract stones in your Toy Poodle is surgical removal. Other treatment options include dietary management, laser treatment, and expelling the stones with liquid.

Toy Poodle Health issues across the lifecycle

The health issues that commonly affect toy poodles can occur at different parts of their lifecycle. For example, congenital defects like distichiasis and entropion are present at birth and usually cause problems in puppies while IVDD, Cushing’s disease, and other conditions take time to develop and won’t manifest until adulthood.

Toy Poodle Puppy Health Issues

Certain diseases that are common to Toy Poodles tend to manifest in the puppy years. Legg-Calve-Perthes usually occurs during the growth stage, around 4-6 months. Poodles that have luxating patellas may show intermittent lameness as puppies. 

Because distichiasis and entropion are congenital conditions, the signs of these health issues usually appear in puppies. If your Toy Poodle has Von Willebrand’s disease, bleeding problems can occur at any age.

Adult Toy Poodle Health Issues

Several health issues that commonly affect Toy Poodles take time to develop and usually surface in the adult years. Degenerative conditions, including arthritis from luxating patellas, PRA, and IVDD, take time to develop and often occur in the adult or middle-aged years.

Other health conditions common to Toy Poodles that occur in mature dogs include endocrine disorders like Cushing’s disease and diabetes. Epilepsy and urinary tract stones are also more likely to manifest in adult Toys. 

Senior Toy Poodle Health Issues

Degenerative conditions like IVDD and arthritis from luxating patellas tend to become more pronounced in your Toy Poodle with increasing age. Likewise, cataracts and PRA worsen with time and may cause blindness in senior dogs.

Toy Poodle Health Issues and Average Lifespan

Toy Poodles tend to be a healthy breed with a lifespan of about 10-18 years. 

While this breed often enjoys a long life, it’s prone to develop certain health issues that may reduce the length or quality of life. Dogs with severe cases of IVDD may suffer paralysis or face euthanization because of extreme pain. Uncontrollable epilepsy can also impact your dog’s length or quality of life. 

Endocrine disorders can shorten your Poodle’s lifestyle because of the stress on other organ systems. Dogs with Cushing’s or diabetes may die younger than their cohorts. 

Toy Poodle Health Issues VS Other Dog Breeds

Toy Poodles have one of the longest life expectancies of all dog breeds, but they can suffer some health issues that affect their longevity. Fortunately, most of them are manageable or correctable with early detection and treatment. Overall, this breed is likely to provide you with years of companionship. 

Health Signs Toy Poodle Parents Should Beware Of

Knowing the main signs of common health issues in Toy Poodles can help you detect problems early. That way, you’ll be able to seek treatment as soon as possible. 

  • Holding one hind leg off the ground
  • Cracking/popping sound in the affected knee
  • Intermittent skipping
  • Reluctance to move, climb, or jump
  • Knuckling under the feet
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Cloudiness in the eye lens 
  • Night blindness 
  • Stumbling, bumping into objects, Squinting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye discharge
  • Muscle twitches/tremors
  • Paddling of the limbs or thrashing
  • Involuntary urination/defecation
  • Potbelly appearance
  • Increased thirst/urination
  • Thin skin
  • Poor hair coat
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic/recurring infections
  • Prolonged bleeding after an injury or other trauma
  • Uncontrolled or excessive bleeding during surgery
  • Excessive urination/loss of bladder control
  • Inability, straining, or reluctance to pee
  • Licking the genital area
  • Blood in the urine

Toy Poodle Health Care Tips and Prevention

With proper health care and preventative measures, you can help your Toy Poodle enjoy a long, healthy life.

  • Schedule annual health checks and vaccinations for your Toy Poodle.  
  • Maintain a healthy weight – most Toy Poodles weigh about 4-6 pounds.
  • Give your dog supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to encourage healthy joints.
  • Find a reputable breeder with a trustworthy reputation. Ask questions about the parents’ health backgrounds.
  • Brush your Poodle’s coat daily to prevent matting. He will require clipping about every 4-6 weeks.
  • Check and clean your furbaby’s ears every week to prevent ear infections.
  • Wipe your Toy Poodle’s eyes with a clean, damp cloth every day to remove eye matter.
  • If your furbaby shows signs of arthritis, invest in an orthopedic memory foam bed.

The Final Woof

Toy Poodles are affectionate, active dogs that usually enjoy long, healthy lives. However, they can suffer from certain health issues that impact their length or quality of life, such as orthopedic issues, eye conditions, epilepsy, endocrine disorders, and others. Your Poodle may or may not develop any of these conditions, but knowing about them can help you know how to respond if he does.

Some of the common conditions Toy Poodles may face occur early in life and affect puppies, while others take time to develop. When you know which signs to watch for, you’ll be better prepared to seek care for your furbaby as soon as possible. Meanwhile, there are several healthcare tips and preventative measures that can help you take the best possible care of your Toy Poodle. 

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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