The Poodle is an elegant, gorgeous and intelligent dog breed that has been around for a very long time, even potentially dating back to Egyptian and Roman times.
Nowadays, most will consider the perfectly groomed Poodle to be simply a companion or show dog, but that’s not always been the case. In fact, they were initially developed as a water dog to retrieve waterfowl for hunters.
When you picture a Poodle, you will likely imagine one with lots of fur covering certain parts of its body like the chest, whilst areas are shaved. Whilst now this is mostly for show, there was once a practical reason. Poodles used as water dogs would have their thick, curly coat covering their vital organs to keep them warm when in cold water whilst other areas would be shaved to avoid snagging on debris and rocks.
The exact origin of the Poodle has long been disputed, but there are a few theories that are generally more accepted than others. One is that they were developed by crossing European water dogs from across the whole continent. Another is that they descend from Asian herding dogs which were brought to Germany by Germanic Goth and Ostrogoth tribes. They also may well have been ancestors of the North African Barbet which were imported to the Iberian Peninsula and then brought to Gaul for its hunting abilities.
Whatever the exact origin, most historians will agree that the breed was initially developed in Germany and then brought to France where it later became its own breed. Their German origin is where the Poodle gets its name as the German word ‘Pudel’ means splash in water.
There are three types of Poodle which are differentiated by their size. They are the Standard Poodle which stands are 15 inches plus, the Miniature Poodle which is between 10 and 15 inches and the Toy Poodle which is Poodle under 10 inches. You may think they are slightly different breeds, but they are in fact considered the same and are held to the same breed standard.
Of all the sizes of Poodle, it’s generally thought that the Standard came first, followed by the Miniature and then the Toy in the 1400’s. Whilst they’ve been around for many centuries, the Kennel Club didn’t register its first Poodle until 1874.
All three variations of the Poodle share the same characteristics which is that of an affectionate, slightly mischievous, very intelligent dog who’s easy to train. They’re a perfect mix of a gorgeous family dog who loves their family and a truly exceptional show dog who excels in obedience training as well as agility and hunt tests.
The Poodle has so many desired qualities that it’s one of the most commonly used to create crossbreeds. You will have heard of many ‘Doodles’ or ‘poos’ such as the Labradoodle, Cockapoo and Shih-poo. These are all the result of crossing one breed with a Poodle, usually for the desired qualities of intelligence, low shedding and their personality.
You can find the breed standard on the Kennel Club’s website here.