The Poodle has been known throughout Western Europe for at least 400 years and is depicted in 15th century paintings and in bas-reliefs from the 1st century. The subject is controversial of where the dog was officially developed and no one really knows the breed’s true country of origin. France has taken a claim on the origin, but the AKC gives the honor to Germany, where they say it was used as a water retrieval dog. Other claims have been Denmark, or the ancient Piedmont. What is certain is that the dog was a descendant of the now-extinct French Water Dog, the Barbet and possibly the Hungarian Water Hound. The name "Poodle" most likely came out of the German word "Pudel," which means "one who plays in water." The "Poodle clip" was designed by hunters to help the dogs swim more efficiently. They would leave hair on the leg joints to protect them from extreme cold and sharp reeds. The hunters in Germany and France used the Poodle as a gundog and as a retriever of waterfowl and to sniff out truffles laying underground in the woods. The French started using the breed as a circus performer because of the dog's high intelligence and trainability. The breed became very popular in France, which led to the common name "French Poodle," but the French people actually called the breed the "Caniche," meaning "duck dog.” The Toy and Miniature Poodle varieties were bred down from larger dogs, today known as Standard Poodles. In the 18th century smaller poodles became popular with royal people. The three official sizes are the Toy, Miniature and Standard Poodle. They are considered one breed and are judged by the same written standard but with different size requirements. Breeders are also breeding an in-between size called a Klein Poodle (Moyen Poodle) and a smaller Teacup Poodle. Some of the Poodle's talents include: retrieving, agility, watchdog, competitive obedience and performing tricks.
The Poodle is one of the oldest breeds developed especially for hunting waterfowl. Most historians agree that the Poodle originated in Germany, but developed into his own distinct breed in France.
Many believe that the breed is the result of crosses between several European water dogs, including Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Hungarian, and Russian water dogs. Other historians think that one of the Poodle's ancestors is the North African Barbet, which was imported to the Iberian Peninsula. After that, the breed arrived in Gaul where it was used for his hunting abilities.
It's also commonly believed that Poodles descended from Asian herding dogs, and then traveled with the Germanic Goth and Ostrogoth tribes to eventually become a German water dog. Yet another theory is that the Poodle descended from dogs that were brought out of the Asian steppes by the conquering North African Berbers and eventually found his way into Portugal in the 8th Century with the Moors.
Poodles were fairly rare in the U.S. until after World War II. By the mid-1950s, however, the Poodle had become the most popular breed in the country, a position he held for more than 20 years.
There are three sizes of Poodle: toy, miniature, and standard. These aren't different breeds, just different sizes of the same dog. The Toy Poodle stands up to 10 inches tall, and weighs about six to nine pounds. The Miniature Poodle stands 11 to 15 inches tall and weighs 15 to 17 pounds. The Standard Poodle stands 15 inches and taller (usually 22 inches); males weigh 45 to 70 pounds and females weigh 45 to 60 pounds.
Traditionally the Standard Poodle, the largest of the subtypes, was a retriever or gun dog, used in particular for duck hunting and sometimes upland bird hunting. The breed has been used for fowl hunting in USA and Canada since the early 1990s, in and out of hunting tests. The modern Standard retains many of the traits prized by their original owners: a keen working intelligence that makes the dog easy to command, webbed feet that make it an agile swimmer (all of the poodle's ancestors and descendants had or share the love of water) athletic stamina, and a moisture-resistant, curly coat that acts like a wool jumper in damp conditions. Towards the second half of the nineteenth century their use in hunting declined in favour of their use in circuses and status symbols of the wealthy, so that by the 20th century they were only found as companions or circus dogs. However, in the past 20 years, some breeders in the United States and Canada have been selecting for dogs with drive for birds in order to revive the breed for hunting, with some great success. The Canadian Kennel Club admitted the Standard Poodle for hunting trials in 1996 and the American Kennel Club in 1998, respectively. As of July 2014, the end results of 20 years of breeding to reawaken the hunting instinct have been dogs that are very eager to please their masters. It has resulted in a gun dog with extreme intelligence that requires special training: their aptitude is second only to the British Border Collie and thus the hunting Standard Poodle requires the gunman to be quite specific as to what he wants and how he wants it done, unlike other spaniels and retrievers who require no such input since they won't try to solve the problem themselves without it. Hunting poodles typically are dogs with lightning quick reflexes, sprinting hard on command after the downed bird and having a prodigious ability to remember where the bird fell and (though not as good as the English Pointer) a decent nose to sniff and track a bird hiding in tall grass
Standard Poodles have been winning titles against the more widely used native breeds like the Chesapeake Bay Retriever , Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, American Water Spaniel and Labrador Retriever. Thus far 13 Standard Poodles have won Master Hunt titles (12 in the United States, 1 in Canada) and several more have won senior and junior titles on both sides of the border. Currently only the United Kennel Club in the US recognizes the Standard Poodle as a Sporting dog, thus in spite of this subtype of poodle being ineligible for field competitions more and more are appearing in the field as waterfowl dogs and hunters of pheasant, the latter especially in theMidwest.
Members of the second variety, the Miniature Poodle, had ancestors that were originally never said to go anywhere near the water. Truffle hunting was widely practiced in England, and later in Spain, France, and Germany, where the edible fungus has always been considered a delicacy. For scenting and digging up the fungus, the smaller dogs were favoured, since they did less damage to the truffles with their feet than the larger kinds. So it is rumored that a terrier was crossed with the poodle to produce the ideal truffle hunter. An 1837 account describes the narrator meeting up with a Frenchman upon a truffle hunt with a pig with the Frenchman lamenting that he did it "for want of a poodle", and earlier pages describe exactly how the dog was trained from the age of four months old to fetch and dig for truffles and carefully carry them back to his master: often the prey drive of his larger cousin was left out of the breeding. Otherwise, the Miniature and Toy varieties remained largely the lap dogs of middle and upperclass ladies, especially in France and the UK. The trade in dyeing and affixing their fur to unusual proportions began with the need to compliment the Victorian and Georgian sensibilities of these women, to the point that their status as a dog of the middle and upper classes was quite solid by the time of the founding of the Kennel Club in the 1870s as they were one of the first dog breeds registered
The poodle is an active, intelligent and elegant dog, squarely built, and well proportioned. To ensure the desirable squarely built appearance, the length of body measured from the breastbone to the point of the rump approximates the height from the highest point of the shoulders to the ground. The eyes should be very dark, oval in shape, and have an alert and intelligent expression. The ears should fold over close to the head, set at, or slightly below, eye level. The coat should be of naturally curly texture, dense throughout, although most AKC-registered show dogs have a lion-cut or other, similarly shaven look.
Poodles do just fine in any type of home, from apartments to estates, so long as they have regular exercise and plenty of human companionship. They prefer to live indoors with the family, particularly the smaller Toy and Miniature Poodles, since they have no trouble getting their ya-yas out in the house.
This intelligent breed learns quickly, but owners should be careful: It's as easy to accidentally teach your Poodle bad habits as it is to teach him good ones, so if you're new to dogs, sign up for an obedience class with a skilled trainer. That goes for Toy and Miniature Poodles as well. Many owners of small dogs skip training, and wind up with a badly behaved dog.
Extensive grooming is needed if the dog is to be shown. Poodles must be bathed regularly and clipped every six to eight weeks. Clean and check the ears frequently for wax or mites or infection and pull out hairs growing inside the ear canal. The teeth need regular scaling. Since the coat does not shed it needs to be clipped. There are several different types of Poodle clips. The most common for pet owners is an easy care clip called a "pet clip," "puppy clip" or "lamb clip," where the coat is cut short all over the body. Popular show clips are the English saddle and the Continental clip, where the rear half of the body is shaved, bracelets are left around the ankles, and pom-poms are left on the tails and hips. The AKC standard allows for a dog under a year old to be shown in a show-style puppy clip which has special requirements such as a pom-pom on the end of the tail. Other clip styles are the modified continental clip, town and country clip, kennel or utility clip, summer clip, and the Miami of bikini clip. Poodles shed little to no hair and are good for allergy sufferers.