"Poodle" comes from an old German word "pudeln" which roughly translated meant to splash in water. However the history of poodles goes back to ancient Egyptian times and that means that it origins have long been lost. There are pictures of poodles in bas-relief that go back to before the time of Christ.
In modern times the breed was probably German, bred to three standard sizes:
- toy poodles
- standard poodles
- miniature poodles
Whilst their precise history is sketchy it is known that they were amongst the earliest hunting dogs, which retrieved the prey from water. Nearly all the European family of "water dogs" are related and they are identifiable by their curly dense coats, typical of both the poodles and the poodle mix.
The poodles have to be the most misunderstood and maligned dog in history, partly because as one of the oldest dog breeds we have had more time to abuse it and partly because its shape and heritage have been misunderstood.
In Renaissance times this working dog with a massive history and talent for retrieving game from water was relegated to what became popularly know as sleeve dogs. They were shoved up the sleeves of the rich and famous to keep their arms warm!
One of the most misunderstood and consequently smeared aspects of poodles is the style of cutting the coat. They have distinctly shaves areas and tufts of hair sticking out the practice of putting a ribbon in, as a topknot was believed to be for identification in water. The purpose of the shaved areas was to give the poodles mobility, but also to stop its dense coat from snagging against obstacles. The areas of thick coat were protection against the cold of the water.
Circus owners, quick to spot potential moneymaking trends, adopted some weird and wonderful styles that were quickly adapted so that the poodle became a society lapdog. Nowhere was this ridiculous practice more common than in the French courts, so much so it became known as the "French Poodle". During the 1950s and 60s the blue poodle and the pink poodle were fairly normal sights as the elderly ladies had their poodles coat rinsed to match the color of their own hair rinses. How degrading is that for the poodle, one of mans oldest working dogs.
A toy poodle
The categories of standard and toy relate to the size of the poodle. The poodles come in many varieties of solid color and some are multi colored.
- Standard Poodle: they must stand at over fifteen inches high at the shoulders
- Miniature Poodle: the height range has to be between ten and fifteen inches in height at the shoulders
- Toy Poodles: they must have a maximum height at the shoulders of ten inches, and their weight range is between 6 an 8 pounds (2,5-3,5 kg)
There is a smaller classification, which is not yet recognized by the AKC, the tiny toy poodle and the teacup poodle. Teacup poodles weigh between two and four pounds (1-2 kg).
Poodles are sensitive and intelligent and highly responsive to training. They enjoy the company of people, though some may be very timid and show signs of being highly strung, hardly surprising for a dog shoved up sleeves!
In general they are good with other pets, but respond best to older rather than younger children. They do get bored easily and they have been known to find extremely destructive and creative ways to be mischievous.
Because of their dense coats they need shampooing regularly and they need to be clipped every six weeks. Whilst it is not uncommon for the grooming to be shaped and contoured, it is also acceptable to have them clipped to the same length all over.
It is said that poodles do not molt at all so they are very good choices for those people who suffer from allergies. This is not entirely true as far as the poodle goes when they mount the hairtends to be kept within the coat, so they do not shed around the house, but that means they need brushing several times a week.
There are many styles of clipping for the poodles, as you can see in the illustrations below. The poodle puppy clip is typically a shorthaired clip, the English saddle clip is a clipped rear sporting two bands around the legs. The continental clip also shaves the rear of the poodle, with a bracelet adorning the ankles and the hips and tails has pom-poms.
It is possible to teach yourself how to groom your poodles. The poodles have hair that grows permanently so mistakes are rectified relatively quickly.
They enjoy exercise, and like to be able to run free, but they are not a demanding breed of dog regarding their exercise requirements.
It has been fairly easy to teach a poodle tricks and in the nineteenth Century the poodle was popular as a performing dog in circuses.
Any effort spent teaching the poodles to socialize as puppies will be well rewarded. They are all easy to train, as they respond well to people.
The sooner the poodles are trained, the easier the job will be. Nail clipping is a constant job and if the feet of a poodle puppy are rubbed and you rub your fingers betweens its toes, then the first nail clipping is easier. Early positive training always makes for a better poodle whatever its size.
Ideal weight: 45-70 pounds/ 20-31 kg
Average height: 15 inches / 38 cm
Life expectancy: 12-15 years and longer