In general

Don`t let anybody fool you. Poodles are high maintenance! The coat need special care and attention. Unless this is done proparly, it will cause harm to the dog.
Poodles don`t shed like many other breeds with a more natural coat. Poodle`s hair grow constantly over the entire body, and like us people lose hairs randomly. Unless they are brushed out, they stay in the curls causing tangles, and eventually matting the whole coat, making it a perfect habitat for unwanted lifeforms...
There is actually nothing natural about the poodle`s coat, and to keep it "natural", unattended, is NOT an option.
A longhaired dog gathers more dirt and could be a bit of a challenge to keep nice and clean. A showdog needs constant attention with trimming and bathing, sometimes as often as once a week. Unless you are well prepared for it, a fairly short trim saves you a lot of hard work.
Most people can learn how to maintain a poodle in short trim. You can chose to shave the whole dog, or make neeter shapes with scissoring. Excersise makes master; the poodle`s coat is forgiving as it always grow back out.
Many poodles tend to grow an amount of hair in their ears, preventing wax and loose hairs to get out. Unless the ears are kept clean and airy, fungus and infections may fast appear.
So, to enjoy a happy healthy beautiful dog like a poodle, you need to pay attention to this, and be prepared to make the efforts.

Early start

Since poodles wellfare depends on proper grooming, we start early, adapting to handling on the table. At the tender age of three weeks, they get their first shave. It is important that the puppies get used to us handling every bit of their body from this early age, and continuing to do so, for the rest of their lives.

When buying a puppy, you should expect the breeder to show you how to groom and what eqipment you need to take proper care of your new baby.

What to do

Usually we shave before bathing. That is because we then get all loose little hairs off in the bath to avoid itching and skin-irritation.
Face, feet, and tail is shaved. Also genetals. Do be careful, the blades get warm.
 Also pay attention to the nails. Some need to clip them every week.

Before bath, make sure the dog is proparly brushed and combed, there should be no tugs at all, as they will get worse when wet. Also make sure the ears are clean. If hairy, pull the hairs out. Use earpowder, and pull just small amount of hair at a time.
For the bath, it is advisable to use dogshampoo, and conditioner is often needed. Make sure to rinse thoroughly.

For best result, and to make sure no loose hairs are left in the coat, use the blowdryer. Be careful not to overheat. Brush/comb while blowing, for a neet finish, making it better to scissor afterwards.

Make sure to read this informative page aswell: 
Thanks to Violet Standard Poodles for letting me use this link!