Used purely as a marketing term, or within the vernacular of breeders and fans, the "royal" poodle is not recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club. Royal, in this particular case, simply means that the poodle is larger than normal, in relation to the standard poodle. Standard poodles -- as well as miniatures and toys -- are the only AKC recognized sizes of the poodle breed.
While the term "royal" has been accepted by breeders and owners as the proper name for larger-than-average standard poodles, others prefer the term "giant." Both can be used interchangeably, as there is no official size difference between royals and giants.
In the 1950s poodles in general saw an increase in popularity as a breed; due to the attention from celebrities such as Jayne Mansfield, miniature poodle interest soared well into the 1960s. Size distortion and manipulation was of particular fascination during this era of technological advancement -- with blockbusters such as Incredible Shrinking Man and Amazing Colossal Man hitting the screens -- so it made sense that the public followed size difference trends where their pets were concerned as well. Poodles weren't the only dogs subject to breeding for size; Chihuahuas became the third most popular dog after the tiny "teacup" style began to appear. Like royal poodles, "teacup" Chihuahuas are not an official AKC breed, and the term is used only to refer to smaller-than-average Chihuahuas.
It was at this time that the "royal" poodle entered the scene. Royal poodles have no specific size requirements, only that they need to be noticeably larger than the largest recognized size. Standard poodles stand 15 to 21 inches at the shoulder, and weigh 45 to 65 pounds. In comparison, royal poodles can stand 20 to 28 inches at the shoulder, and weigh a whopping 80 to 90 pounds -- around the same weight as a Bernese mountain dog.
Poodles -- royal or otherwise -- are subject to genetic diseases such as eye problems, skin issues and allergies. The larger the poodle, the more potential she has to bloat, a lethal condition where your dog's stomach fills with food or gas and puts pressure on other organs. If a dog experiencing bloat rolls, the digestive system can twist, sending your dog into shock.
Poodles of any size require an experienced groomer familiar with poodle hair and its upkeep; poodles are prone to matting and tangles.
Care of royal poodles is no different than that of standards, although they likely will need more food than their smaller counterparts. Despite their Hollywood reputation as fussy canines, poodles are active, fun-loving dogs and will need daily exercise. Make sure your royal poodle sees a veterinarian for all of his care, and let them know that your particular furry friend has been bred for a larger size than usual.