History of the Poodle Breed
The Poodle is instantly recognizable as one of the most popular breeds in the world. The breed has a lot going for it, not the least of which is its remarkable intelligence. The poodle is officially recognized as originating in France (though some still claim Germany and Denmark as other possibilities as well). Its earlier ancestors were most likely curly-coated dogs from Asia. The poodle was initially a water dog and its development had a lot of German influence. The very name “poodle” is anglicized from the German “pfudel,” which means “to splash” or “puddle.” In France, the poodle is more renowned for its prowess at duck hunting. The poodle has served man in many ways including guide dog, guard dog, military service dog and circus performer. The coat is generally shorn to accommodate swimming. There is some controversy surrounding the puffed hair at the knees and tip of the tail. Some believe that they were shorn that way for protection while they were hunting. The majority of evidence points to the puffs being purely decorative for performing purposes. The poodle became a regal companion to the societal elite. It was the favorite of the French aristocrats. A successful effort was made to perfect the smaller poodles. Individuals began showeing the poodle in the 1800s. Some of the earlier show poodles were shown with long, matted and thin coats. This method was later abandoned due to the difficulty of the upkeep of these coats. As popular as poodles are in America today, they nearly died out in the US in the late 1920s due to a lack of popularity.
Size and Appearance of the Poodle
The poodle is square in shape with a stylish and dignified appearance. The poodle comes in three varieties – the standard, the miniature and the toy. The breed standard for all varieties is the same except for the size. Its head is carried upright, and its gait is light and springy. Its ears are flat and wide and lay close to its head. The toy poodle is a small dog with dark eyes, a docked tail, and a clipped curly coat. The miniature poodle has black or brown eyes, a curly or corded coat, and a high-set tail that is docked to at least half its original length. The standard poodle has very dark eyes, a wiry coat, and a tail that is docked to half its length. The breed’s thick coat is a solid color and usually groomed in one of three styles. The “pet clip” or puppy clip has short hair of equal length all over. The “English saddle" clip and the "Continental" clip are partially shaved with bracelets left on the ankles and balls of fur left on the tail and hips. Colors include black, blue, silver, gray, cream, apricot, red, white, brown, or cafe-au-lait.
All three types of poodle are lively, intelligent, devoted, and obedient. They are good with children and other pets and are often shy with strangers. The miniature poodle is easy to train and enjoys entertaining with tricks. It is often recruited by the circus because of its ability to learn quickly. It wants to be the center of attention and has an amusing personality. Although it has a tendency to be high-strung, it is also eager to please – so much so that many owners feel like it understands them when they talk. It makes a great watchdog and can bark too much. Spoiling may result in a pet that snaps and bites. The toy poodle is one of the most trainable dogs. It is even-tempered and sensitive, enjoys its family, and can be demanding. It should be socialized at an early age to help it overcome shyness. It also tends to bark excessively. The standard poodle is dignified and cheerful. It gets lonely when left alone and should be included in family activities. It is calmer than the smaller varieties, makes a good guard dog and makes a good hunting dog.
Poodle Recommended Maintenance
All Poodles require frequent grooming, including trimming, brushing and shampooing. Their coats should be trimmed every six weeks. During the shedding period, the poodle’s hair does not fall out, but rather sticks to its coat causing matting if not combed out. A show poodle requires much more grooming, but even a companion pet should be professional groomed every month and a half or so. The familiar poodle clip was designed to be lightweight when waterlogged while still keeping the joints and major organs warm. Additionally, the poodle’s ears need cleaned of wax and hair, nails need trimmed, and teeth should be brushed. This intelligent breed enjoys social interaction along with mental and physical challenges. The miniature and toy poodles only require minimal exercise, such as a game or a walk. The standard poodle requires a more vigorous workout than the smaller members of the breed. It enjoys retrieving as well as swimming. It will also do better in a house with a fenced yard, while the toy and miniature poodles do well in an apartment. Poodles should never be kept outdoors.
• Major concerns for toy and miniature: PRA, patellar luxation, Legg – Perthes, epilepsy
• Major concerns for standard: sebaceous adenitis, gastric torsion, Addison’s
• Minor concerns for toy and miniature: trichiasis, entropion, lacrimal duct atresia, cataracts, glaucoma, distichiasis
• Minor concerns for standard: distichiasis, entropion, cataract, CHD, epilepsy
• Occasionally seen for toy and miniature: urolithiasis, intervertebral disc degeneration
• Occasionally seen for standard: PDA, vWD
• Suggested tests for toy and miniature: eye, knee, hip
• Suggested tests for standard: skinpunch for SA, eye, (hip)
• Life span for toy: 12 – 14 years
• Life span for miniature: 13 – 15 years
• Life span for standard: 10 – 13 years