The Poodle

The Poodle
One size of dog need not fit all


Will that be a tall, grande, or venti?

A hike in the woods or window shopping downtown?

Are you a barefoot, sandals, or loafers kind of person? Ah, choices, choices. Where would we be without them? Some choices are dictated by our lifestyles and some are just a matter of delicious preference, but what we choose and why makes the world go round.

In the world of Poodles, there are more options than you can shake a leash at. The three official size varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC)—Standard (over 15 inches at the shoulder), Miniature (10 to 15 inches), and Toy (under 10 inches)—are augmented by unofficial models such as Teacups (under 4 pounds in weight), Caniches (small Standards), and Royal Standards (supersize).

If colour is your thing, the Poodle also aims to please with a palette of coat colours that includes white, cream, café au lait, chocolate brown, apricot, red, silver, blue, black, and particoloured (while parti-coloured Poodles may not be shown under AKC rules, these dogs with patchwork coats are still popular with some owners).

On top of all this, you’re allowed a multitude of choices as to your Poodle’s hairstyle: corded or curly, continental or English saddle, Dutch clip, puppy clip, sporting clip, kennel clip….

Regardless of what “package” you choose, however, you will always get the unique Poodle heart, soul, and character that make enthusiasts claim the breed is “the best of the best.” Although debate is lively about the unique temperament attributed to each size, it is probably fair to say that Poodles of all sizes share more in personality traits than they differ from each other. Those tiny Toys think they can do anything the “big guys” can do—and do it better—while a lot of “dignified” Standards would secretly love to be tucked under your arm and accompany you everywhere, if only designer dog carriers came in X-X-L size. And just like its bigger and smaller cousins, the versatile Miniature easily makes the transition from snuggly couch dog to energetic outdoor companion with a yawn, a stretch, and a tail wag.

All Poodles are lively, fun-loving, affectionate, and intelligent and many owners say the breed has a sense of humour to rival Seinfeld’s. S. Meyer Clark, author of Poodle (Kennel Club Books, 2004), writes, “In addition to loving life in general, Poodles love people.”

And people love Poodles. For 22 years, from 1960 to 1982, the Poodle was the most popular dog in the U.S., holding the number-one spot longer than any other breed. In 2006, almost 30,000 Poodles were registered, making it the eighth most popular breed across the U.S. This number doesn’t even take into account the thousands of nonregistered Poodles in the country.

In fact, people love Poodles so much that the breed is commonly crossed with other dogs to produce “designer dogs” such as Maltipoos, Schnoodles, and Labradoodles. The buyers of these crossbreeds often pay as much or more than the going price for a registered purebred in the hopes of getting some unique mix that will feature coveted Poodle characteristics such as the famous “nonallergenic,” nonshedding coat. (In fact, there is no such thing as a “nonallergenic” dog—any dog, even a hairless one, can trigger allergies in some people.)

A glance at the history books will show that curly-coated dogs of all sizes have been pleasing people for a long, long time. Poodle pundits argue endlessly about where and when the breed first emerged, some saying Germany, others insisting on France or Russia; some saying the breed reaches back into the mists of ancient times and still others pointing to the Middle Ages as the starting point.

We do know that the breed was well established by the seventeenth century, because a famous white Poodle by the name of Boye is documented in writings and paintings of the period. Boye was the constant companion of Prince Rupert, one of the royalist commanders in the English Civil War. Because he bravely went into battle by the prince’s side and was a very visible and enthusiastic “soldier,” he became a kind of mascot for the Cavaliers. For the same reasons, he was hated by the opposing side, who called him a “devil dog” and set a price on his head. In the end, poor Boye was killed in battle, causing his master great grief.

The French have staked their claim to creating the Poodle and made it the national dog of France. On the other hand, it seems clear that the name Poodle arose from the German word pudeln, meaning “to splash,” something at which the early Poodles excelled when going about their business of retrieving waterfowl from water.

The custom of clipping Poodles originally arose from their function as a retriever; working dogs were kept closely trimmed on some areas of the body to reduce the weight of a waterlogged coat after all that pudeln. Longer hair was left on joints and around the chest to help those vital parts stay warm. Hence the “lion” clip and pom-poms that most people associate with the well-groomed Poodle.

Despite its reputation as a “frou-frou” dog, the Poodle actually features a squarely built, athletic, and efficient physical design; again, part of its heritage as a working retriever. Still, when buying a Poodle, as with any breed, you should be aware of health problems associated with that breed, most notably, in the case of the Poodle, sebaceous adenitis—a skin disease—and hip dysplasia (in Standards) and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA; generally found in Minis and Toys). Conscientious breeders are working to reduce the incidence of all genetic health problems; your best defence is to make sure you buy a Poodle only from such a breeder.

Whatever your decision is about the type of Poodle you want to own, there’s one choice you won’t have to make: all models come with immeasurable love and joy to share—no option on that.

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Comments (14)

I had 5 standards, and every one a delight, unfortunately I had one pass away a couple of weeks ago, so I am down to 4. they are simply the best companions and so very funny. If you have a stressful job don't pop a pill, get a poodle and you will never lack for a reason to smile! Great Article!
Mon, 11/26/2012 - 18:22

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Tue, 03/05/2019 - 17:39
I've had poodles for 40 years. All of them have been good natured, intelligent, loving and flexible family members. Poodles have a great memory and they DO have a sense of humor. Keep them in a simple puppy cut and bathe them every 6-8 weeks - they are well worth the little extra effort.
Thu, 08/22/2013 - 12:55
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Sun, 12/02/2018 - 02:06
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I enjoy entering him in pet photo contest Today humane society of Kentucky called me to send more pictures of him khrat
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Sun, 12/02/2018 - 22:49
Our Standard Red Female Poodle is the talk of the neighborhood. She loves and easily engages with other dogs, adults and children. You could say she has more friends than we do. She oozes affection and attaches easily to those who return the attention. She will find whatever space is available in our bed and conform to it. I sometimes wake up with her head on my shoulder. She knows all the names of her toys. My wife is the official name giver and she will nose through her several toy boxes till she finds the one that you asked for. A simply amazing, fun, smart, empathetic friend. Wish I had discovered the breed earlier. A respected, ethical breeder is a must and early socialization is desireable. Ours let her weaned pups sleep in her bed and have the run of her house, but with plenty of outside time to play with the older dogs. Ours house broke herself in 3 days. After watching my wife open the door to let her out, she walks up and puts her paw on the knob attempring to turn it...if it had been a handle rather than a knob, there is no doubt in my mind she would be letting herself in and out all on her own. If you're sick, she will lay on the bed with you to "nurse" you back to health like she did after my wife's heart proceedure or lick your wounds like she did after my bilateral knee replacement. These are special creatures with amazing talents that go way beyond jumping through a hoop.
Sun, 04/21/2019 - 20:00


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