Could that dog in the shelter be a Miniature Poodle? Recognizing a Poodle type dog is a lot more than just looking at what clip their coat is in. Most Miniature Poodles in shelters or breed rescues are not in the fancy show clips. But there are still ways to recognize a Miniature Poodle.
The Humane League of the United States estimates that twenty-five percent of all abandoned animals are purebreds. So, the odds of that shelter dog being a purebred Miniature Poodle are pretty high.
Standard Poodles have a minimum height requirement of fifteen inches at the withers, which most make easily. However, some Miniature Poodles have had both parents be Toy Poodles, or even both parents are Standard Poodles. All three recognized Poodle types are basically different sizes of the same breed of dog. You may see Teacup Poodles advertised, but they are not recognized as a show worthy Poodle type.
Any Poodle information for Standard Poodles tends to also apply to Miniature Poodles, only on a smaller scale. Their breed standards are identical (again, except for size). They should be lean, athletic dogs under remarkably puffy coats. Their expression should be happy and lively. Their trot should be lively and bouncy, with their heads and tails naturally held high. Many show Poodles have their tails half docked - a practice which is thankfully dying out.
The breed standard is usually based on looking at a Poodle in profile. In profile, a Miniature Poodle should stand square, have a level topline (spine) and a profile that looks somewhat chiseled and not heavily jowled. The preferred eye color for the show ring is a dark brown, but much lighter eye colors happen often in pet Miniature Poodles. The ears are floppy, with rounded ends and seem to hug the head. They may or may not have dewclaws.
The Miniature Poodle comes in many colors, but all of them are to be solid for show dogs. Even the lips and nose should be the same color. This is where a lot of Miniature Poodles fall short as show dogs, as they could have bi-colored lips, or more than one color in their coats. Some brown Miniature Poodles will go prematurely grey, so a grey-tipped brown Miniature Poodle may be younger than he looks. Other faults common to Miniature Poodles include large, protruding eyes, an overbite, ewe-neck, a too low tail carriage or a downward sloping topline.
All coats of Poodle types are long and curly and are actually hair and not fur. Most Miniature Poodles fall short of their breed standard in many areas, but still can be purebred Miniature Poodles.
They don't seem to care whatever clip they are given. Miniature Poodles are long lived (some have reached twenty) and is one of the more healthy breeds of smaller dogs available.