Water Retriever, Guard Dog.
Sheep Protector, Sheep Herder.
Service Dog, Law Enforcement Dog, Therapy Dog, Military Dog.
The Poodle has done it all.
Done it well.
And done it with elan.
The Poodle is an ancient dog.
The Poodle is a rustic dog.
The Poodle is not a decorative, trivial, trophy dog.
A definitive, comprehensive history of the Poodle does not exist.
However, the Poodle may be the most painted breed of dog.
As art history shows.
Poodles have been with us for a long time.
[ The Ariosa Dogs website includes an art history of water dogs.]
Poodles are present in Greek, Roman and Egyptian times.
They are there through the High Middle Ages.
They are there in the 18th and 19th centuries.
And they are still here today.
The Poodle History Project is an excellent Poodle history resource.
It is well established that the Poodle is a water retriever and gun dog.
It is one of the original, versatile, hunting and water flushing dogs.
The Poodle may also have been a sheep herding/protecting dog.
Probably in Eastern Europe.
With a white curly coat, this dog had two advantages.
It could not be distinguished from the sheep by predatory wolves.
It could easily be distinguished from a wolf by the shepherd.
Many Egyptian, Greek and Roman artifacts and tombs depict dogs.
One of the earliest representations appears on a Roman Coin dated 112-111 BCE.
Many of these dogs look very similar to modern Poodles.
The dogs are shown bringing in nets, herding and retrieving game in marshes.
Later Albrecht Durer drawings show the breed in the 15th and 16th centuries.
In 18th century Spain, the Poodle became the principal pet dog.
This is clear from the paintings of the Spanish artist, Goya.
But this was also the time when Toy Poodles began to appear.
The Toys quickly became pampered favorites at the French royal court.
[Of Louis XVI.]
Just as the Bichons had done.
(See About Bichons).
This continued through the 18th and into the 19th centuries.
ONE POODLE BUT THREE SIZES [OR FOUR?]
The Poodle is one breed.
But the American Kennel Club (“AKC”) recognizes three sizes of Poodle.
The Standard Poodle.
The Miniature Poodle.
And the Toy Poodle.
[Samuel's Best Friend is a Standard Poodle.]
SIZE DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN THE THREE KINDS OF POODLE
The only AKC distinction between the three Poodles is shoulder height.
The AKC standard for the breed requires the following.
The Standard Poodle is above 15 inches at the withers (adult shoulder).
The Miniature Poodle is 10 + inches - less than 15 inches at the withers.
And the Toy Poodle measures less than 10 inches at the withers.
The AKC has no weight or other size limits for Poodles.
[Unlike the Fédération Cynologique Internationale.
The FCI does have an upper size limit for the Standard Poodle.
It is 60 cms./23.5 inches at the shoulder.
Many US breeders are breeding Standard Poodles of 25 inches plus.]
SIZE DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN FOUR KINDS OF POODLE
The Fédération Cynologique Internationale recognizes 4 sizes of Poodle.
The Federation is an international kennel club authority.
It has about 80 mostly European members and contract partners.
They issue their own pedigrees.
They propound rules for the appearance of each breed.
And they train their own judges.
It represents numerous mainly European countries.
AKC, FCI and other standards appear in the table below.
[The Canadian Kennel Club follows the AKC.
The Australian Kennel Club follows the UK standards.]
The table below shows Fédération Cynologique Internationale breed standards.
|Size||Fédération Cynologique Internationale||The Kennel Club (UK)||Canadian Kennel Club||American Kennel Club||United Kennel Club|
|Standard, Grande||over 45cm to 60cm (+2 cm) (18ins to 24ins)||over 38 cm (15 ins)||over 15 inches (38cm)||over 15 inches (38cm)||over 15 inches (38cm)|
|Medium, Moyen||over 35cm to 45cm(14ins to 18ins)||not used||not used||not used||not used|
|Miniature – Dwarf, Nain||over 28cm to 35cm (11ins to 14ins)||28cm to 38cm (11ins to 15ins)||over 10ins to under 15ins (25.4cm to 38cm)||over 10ins to 15ins (25.4cm to 38cm)||over 10ins up to 15ins (25.4cm to 38cm)|
|Toy||24 cm to 28 cm (9.4ins to 11ins)||under 28 cm (11 ins)||under 10ins (25.4cm)||under 10ins (25.4cm)||under 10ins (25.4cm)|
[Not surprisingly there are disputes between FCI, AKC and UK breed standards.
See, for example:
There is one main difference between AKC and European breed standards.
That is the European Moyen Poodle.
The dog above is 15 inches at the shoulder.
She is too tall for an American Miniature Poodle.
In the United States then she would be a small Standard Poodle.
There is no concensus on the genetic origins of the smaller Poodles.
Non-Poodle genes may have been introduced.
Or they may have been bred from smaller Standard Poodles.
Some do find that the Toy Poodle seems to have a different personality.
But such differences could have been created by size differences alone.
[Sometimes loosely referred to as "small dog syndrome."]
AKC & UKC
GROUP CLASSIFICATIONS FOR POODLES
The Standard and Miniature Poodle are classified in the AKC Non Sporting group.
In the UK the Standard and Miniature Poodles are classified in the Utility Group.
Given the Poodle’s sporting origins as a water retriever this seems bizarre.
Especially since modern Poodles are again active in hunting and retrieving.
WHAT ABOUT IMPERIAL, ROYAL, GIANT, TEACUP POODLES?
The Standard Poodle.
The Miniature Poodle.
The Toy Poodle.
These are the only Poodles recognized by the AKC and the UKC.
The Nain or Petit.
These are the only Poodles recognized by the FCI.
All of the other terms above are generic marketing terms.
They have no precise verifiable meaning.
They are not regulated or monitored by any governing body.
[AKC - and other kennel club - regulation of breeding and breeders is imperfect.
But it does provide at least some oversight and control.]
The use of these terms tells you one important thing.
The dog is not registered with the AKC, the UKC or the FCI.
That may not matter to the reader.
But if it does.
And be cautious with sellers using such terms.
The AKC does not recognize any Poodles other than those above.
“Tiny Teacup Poodles.”
These all exist only in the minds and pockets of their marketers.
They should be seen for what they are.
Marketing strategies of breeders of mostly unregistered dogs.
They are imprecise, generic terms.
There is no way to know what the dog will actually look like.
There is no way to know whether the dog is carrying other breed genes.
These names are used to sell dogs that do not confirm to any breed standard.
They are used to mislead those unfamiliar with the breed.
[Since there are no AKC upper limits for Standard Poodle size.
And no lower limits for Toy Poodle size.
The above terms are also quite unnecessary.]
IS THE POODLE A “FRENCH POODLE”?
Similarly, there is no such thing as the “French Poodle.”
But the Poodle has enduring popularity in France.
It continues to be held in great esteeem and particular affection there.
And undoubtedly the French would love to claim this breed.
Perhaps it is this French affection for the breed that lead to this misnomer.
There is, in France, a French breed of dog called the Caniche.
The name may come from the French for “dog” and “duck.”” (chien, canard).
The Caniche is the Poodle.
All Poodles are called Caniches in France.
The size of the Poodle is then further designated.
The poodle may be one of the following.
Medium (moyen. )
Miniature (petit or nain.)
The Beautiful Grey Poodles website is an informed resource.
It includes a list of the different terms used to describe Poodle size.
In France the medium Poodle (the Moyen) is considered the “Standard” Poodle.
This is a dog of about 16 to18 inches at the shoulder.
It weighs pproximately twenty-five to thirty pounds.
Some USA breeders describe smaller Standard Poodles, loosely, as Caniches.
[Perhaps they mean to say '"Moyen."]
This just adds to the confusion.
As does the following fact.
In France, the Standard Poodle is sometimes called a Caniche Royal.
This may be the origin of the incorrect superfluous term ”Royal Poodle.”
But, in sum, the Caniche Royal is a Poodle.
And it is, of course, French.
Because it is a French breed of dog.
But it is not a “French Poodle.”
It is a Caniche Royal.
The French used the larger Poodle for duck hunting.
The mid-sized Poodle/Moyen was used to find truffles.
This dog was sometimes called The Truffle Dog.
Truffle hunting was widely practiced in England.
And later in Spain and Germany.
The smaller dogs were favored for scenting and digging up the fungus.
They caused less damage to the truffles than the larger dogs.
[Rumor has it that the ideal truffle hunter is/was a Terrier-Poodle cross.]
Toy Poodles’ main job seems to have been to as companions to the wealthy.
Renaissance Toy Poodle owners carried the dogs in their large shirtsleeves.
As a result, the dogs became known as ”sleeve dogs.”
In later years, Toy Poodles, like Bichons, excelled as circus dogs.
Both have a naturally playful nature.
Both have a remarkable ability and willingness to perform tricks.
Both are small.
And therefore easier to control and manipulate than larger Poodles.
IS THE POODLE GERMAN?
The AKC takes the position that the Poodle is a German dog.
The word “Poodle“ is thought to come from the expression pfudel.
Pfudel means puddle.
So the name is thought to express the breed’s ties to water.
The same idea appears in the common German expression pudelnass.
Pudelnass means “soaked to the skin,” literally.
Or, “as wet as a Poodle“.
But, not only is the Poodle not French.
Neither does it appear to be German – at least, not exclusively so.
These kind of dogs appeared in too many other European countries.
IS THE POODLE EUROPEAN?
The French believe the most likely Poodle progenitor to be the Barbet .
The Barbet is a “Water Spaniel”.
- Barbet: Credit: http://bbfrenchtreasure.free.fr/
But the name, Barbet, may come from this dog’s pronounced beard.
[The French word for a beard is une barbe.
However the word tends to be used for any hairy dog.]
Of course the Poodle too has a beard.
But it only shows where the nose is not shaved.
- Barbet. Credit: http://bbfrenchtreasure.free.fr/
This North African Barbet was brought from the Asian steppes to Portugal.
From there it was taken to Gaul where it was used for hunting.
The Russians have an equivalently named dog, the “Barbosses.”
And, in Italy, to this day, the Poodle is called the “Barboncino” or ”Barbone.“
These words are the Italian translation of the French name Barbet.
POODLES AS SHEEP DOGS?
Some have suggested that Poodle origins lie in the sheep dogs of Eastern Europe.
These dogs protected the sheep in addition to herding them.
Such dogs had two advantages for the shepherd.
Wolves could not distinguish these white curly-haired dogs from sheep.
But they were easily distinguished from a wolf by the shepherd.
MOST LIKELY ORIGINS
WATER DOGS AND WATER SPANIELS.
Ultimately, the Poodle is an ancient dog.
Its true origins are almost certainly lost in the annals of antiquity.
But it is one of the oldest breeds developed for hunting water birds.
It seems clear that the Standard Poodle is the original Poodle.
It is also clear that Poodles were originally “Water Dogs” and“Water Spaniels.”
“Water Dogs,” appear frequently in 15th to 17th century European artwork.
Typically, the dogs are shown working in or around water.
They bear a remarkable resemblance to the modern Standard Poodle.
But they looked a little different.
They had wider heads, shorter noses, and rounder eyes than modern Poodles.
- White Poodle in a Punt.
- George Stubbs 1724-1806 ca.1780.
- Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art (http://www.nga.gov/), Washington, DC; Paul Mellon Collection, 1999.80.22.
The typical modern show Poodle look includes the following.
Long, narrow-head; almond-shaped eyes; slender physical profile.
However, this is not the exclusive physical type amongst Poodles, even today.
And it was not the original Poodle physique.
Some have suggested that the “Water Dog” was used more widely in Germany.
There is little evidence of this.
On the contrary “Water Dogs” were bred throughout Europe.
Brown & White Norfolk (Water) Spaniel
George Stubbs 1724-1806
The modern Poodle is undoubtedly the result of various crosses.
Various Water Dog and Water Spaniel crosses are likely.
The English Water Dog.
The Portuguese Water Dog.
The Spanish Water Dog.
And perhaps the German, Hungarian and Russian Water Dogs.
MODERN WATER DOGS AND WATER SPANIELS
Modern Water Dog and Water Spaniel descendants include the following dogs.
The Portuguese Water Dog.
The Spanish Water Dog.
And the Irish Water Spaniel.
In addition to the Standard Poodle, that is.
All are similar to the Standard Poodle in appearance and personality.
Ariosa Dogs, a Spanish Water Dog breeder, is also an excellent source.
Poodle ancestors were widely dispersed in space, time and occupation.
MODERN POODLE HISTORY
By the 19th Century popularity of the Poodle as water retriever declined.
There was increased specialization amongst working Water Dogs.
At the same time there was increasing interest in developing show Poodles.
The English Kennel Club registered their first Poodle in 1874.
The American Kennel Club registered theirs in 1886.
There was also increased focus on the smaller, Miniature Poodle.
In the 1930s there were less than 100 registered Poodles in the USA.
By the 1950s that number had increased dramatically.
The Poodle had become the most popular breed in the USA.
It retained this position for approximately twenty years.
All of these influences lead to a focus on AKC show standards for the breed.
The unfortunate result was a redefinition of the Poodle.
Show standards were not the standards of a robust working water dog.
And they created most current misconceptions about the breed.
Such as, that the Poodle is only a frivolous, impractical, malleable show dog.
[Nothing could be further from the truth.
See description of Poodle Personality.]
There is a recent renewed interest in returning Poodles to their origins.
Many of these dogs compete successfully in field and Water Dog trials.
Samuel’s Best Friend comes from a line of hunting and retrieving Poodles.
And it shows.
Modern Poodles excel in Agility, Herding and Obedience work.
They also do wonderful work as Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs.
The gene pool for Poodles is limited.
This places the dogs at risk for all genetically linked defects and diseases.
See the discussion of GVD below.
Attention must always be paid to the breeding lines of any Poodle.
Breeding lines of registered dogs can be tracked on the AKC website.
The Coefficient of Inbreeding is a useful measure of inbreeding.
Versatility in Poodles is committed to addressing this problem.
Breeding lines of dogs registered with VIP can be tracked on their website.
Historically, the Poodle was not bred to be a pretty dog.
It was a working dog.
Large Poodles guided blind people.
They pulled travelling entertainers’ wagons.
They worked as guard dogs.
And they have been used by the military in Europe.
Medium-sized Poodles also worked herding sheep.
They helped fishermen.
And they searched for truffles. [See above.]
Most modern Poodles still possess all these capabilities.
For example Poodles are used to make customs inspections in France.
The Poodle is a square dog, as long as it is tall.
The legs are straight.
Movement is flowing.
These dimensions and proportions give the Poodle its easy, springy gait.
In addition, the Poodle has a deep broad chest.
Like the Poodle of unknown pedigree, below.
Like other deep chested breeds, the Poodle is at risk of GDV.
GDV refers to Gastric Dilation (Bloat) with Volvulus (Torsion).
GDV is an acute deadly condition that can kill within hours.
All Poodle owners should obtain veterinary advice on GDV.
They should familiarize themselves with potential symptoms.
They should be aware of possible contributory factors.
Even Brown was a disfavored color.
Modernly, the following colors are acceptable to the AKC.
Black, White, Brown.
Blue, Gray, Silver, Silver Beige.
The FCI recognizes only the following colors.
Brown. Apricot. Red.
No Blue. No Grey.
No other colors are recognized.
For the AKC, at the skin, a Poodle’s coat must be an even solid color.
But in some colors there may be varying natural shades of the same color.
[Blues, Grays, Silvers, Browns, Cafe-au-Laits, Apricots and Creams.]
This often appears as darker feathering at the ears and the ruff.
Brown and Cafe-au-lait Poodles have the following.
Liver-colored noses, eye-rims and lips.
And dark amber eyes.
Black, Blue, Gray, Silver, Cream and White Poodles have the following.
Black noses, eye-rims and lips.
Black or self colored toenails.
Very dark eyes.
For Apricots, the darker coloring is preferred.
But the following are permitted.
Liver-colored noses, eye-rims and lips.
However the lighter colors are disfavored.
The genetics of Poodle coat color are complex.
Many Poodle puppies are born with multi-colored coats.
Multicolor-coated Poodles were de rigeur in 15th-19th century artwork.
Most of them were Black and White parti-colors.
Like the puppies here.
In the 19th century Parti-Color Poodles were acceptable to the AKC.
But modernly the AKC states: “Parti-Colored dogs shall be disqualified.”
[However the German Kennel Club accepts Black and White Parti-Colors.]
Thus naturally-occuring Parti-Color Poodles have been deigned “defective.”
And consigned to Poodle oblivion.
Which means mostly to backyard breeders.
Some breeders have chosen to ignore the AKC position on Parti-Color Poodles.
They are working to raise the standards of the Parti-Colored Poodle.
Highfalutin’ Poodles in the Sierra Nevada foothills is one of them.
PECULIAR POODLE HAIRCUTS
One cannot but marvel at the strange Poodle show haircuts.
But did past Poodle retrievers have these cuts?
Do other water retrievers have these cuts?
GROOMING OF THE POODLE
This section includes photographs of severely abused Poodles.
The abuse is reflected in a complete lack of grooming.
These photographs are disturbing.
The Poodle’s dense, warm, curly coat requires regular grooming.
It must be brushed frequently.
And it must be clipped every 4-6 weeks at least.
Dogs active in the outdoors require more frequent and rigorous grooming.
Few will get rich grooming Poodles.
But it is time-consuming and therefore expensive to pay someone else.
You should not get a Poodle if you do not have time or money for grooming.
For Poodles grooming is not a merely cosmetic issue.
It is a health issue.
Absence of appropriate grooming will usher in a host of medical problems.
It causes skin and parasite problems amongst others.
Over time this will lead to general physical debilitation.
A hallmark of Poodles/Poodle Mixes coming into rescue is lack of grooming.
Here is a photograph of a beautiful Standard Poodle.
Here is the same dog a few weeks later.
All the matted hair has been removed.
She has been bathed.
She has received appropriate medical care.
Including major surgery for untreated mammary tumors.
And she has received foster home TLC.
The following Standard Poodles were removed from a breeder.
The breeder was AKC registered.
The condition of their coat shows the horrendous abuse these dogs suffered.
Their owner was an AKC registered breeder-owner.
Photographs courtesy of Susan Wilson.
Sadly, the deplorable condition of some of these dogs necessitated euthanasia.
The Poodle is not anyone’s, well, “poodle.”
A healthy, genetically sound, Standard Poodle or Miniature Poodle is typically …
Sociable without demanding constant attention.
Good with children.
And … An excellent guard dog.
Most Poodles positively exude exhuberance, joi de vivre and elan.
But they can also remain calm, quiet and steady if needed.
Some Poodle aficionados divide the breed into two major personality types.
These are: the Clowns and the Dignified Poodles.
There are excellent Poodles of both types.
But most Standards and Miniatures are a mixture of the two.
They know when to use them to use them appropriately.
Most of the time anyway.
They do exist.
Lots of them.
But a rescue dog - Poodle or not - is not for the faint of heart.
A rescue dog may not exhibit the breed profiles above.
Some do, but it would not be the norm.
Most rescue dogs have been neglected in various ways.
Some have been abused by acts of commission or omission.
Some, like Samuel, have been severely abused.
[Fearful Dogs and Puppy Mill Dogs are special cases.
We are working on Pages about both of these groups.]
Not all individual dogs will conform to the typical breed profile anyway.
Poodles are, like us, individuals.
Dogs should always be assessed and evaluated on an individual basis.
This is true whether they are coming from a breeder or from a rescue.
And the handler plays a key role in any individual dog’s behavior.
A bad handler can ruin a fabulous dog.
Such dogs may require months, even years, to be rehabilitated.
Poodles are highly intelligent, very social dogs.
Anyone who wants a dog to leave in the backyard.
With or without access to the garage/kitchen/laundry room.
Should find an inanimate object instead.
Not a dog.
Anyone who wants a status symbol or a decorative artifact.
Should buy a new car or some artwork.
Not a Poodle.
Many Poodles require a significant amount of exercise.
Samuel’s Best Friend is one of them.
[ As is Samuel.
Petite thought he is, Samuel has boundless energy.]
Others may be more adaptable and flexible in their exercise requirements.
Almost all Poodles need an active, busy, challenging, rewarding life.
Without it they will not thrive.
Without it they will try to compensate.
Without it they will be a problem.
A handler who bullies or browbeats their frustrated Poodle will fail.
They will fail completely.
They will also, likely, do untold damage to their dog.
Who will then end up in Rescue.
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[Bichons share much of the same lineage as Poodles.]
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