Although the Poodle is thought of as a French breed it is by no means certain that it originated in that country. Dogs of the Poodle type have existed in Western Europe for hundreds of years with references in art and literature dating back to the 13th century. Breed historians tend to agree that the dog probably originated in Germany from the German water spaniel and type was set and standardized in France. The name ‘Poodle’ almost certainly comes from the German ‘Pudel’ (water dog) or ‘pudelin’ (to splash). In France the breed is known as the Caniche (duck dog) which is descriptive of its purpose - the retrieval of game birds from water. The Standard Poodle, which is the original from which the Miniature and Toy were developed, is still used as a gundog and valued for its robustness and its ability to work tirelessly in the field. The distinctive ‘lion’ clip which is associated with show Poodles was a practical measure to reduce water resistance and to protect and keep warm the chest, joints, and kidneys of naturally long-haired dogs working in cold water. The coloured hair ribbons were also purely functional as they enabled owners to identify their own dogs when working with others. The Poodle’s great intelligence, his ability to learn quickly and his enjoyment in performing saw him become a star of circus, screen, and stage. This versatile dog has also worked as a truffle hunter, a draft dog, a messenger in war zones, a therapy dog - in fact the Poodle can be trained to do almost anything that is within its physical abilities. The first Poodle was registered with the Kennel Club in 1874.
The Poodle is a deservedly popular family companion. He combines love of family and home with a light-hearted outlook on life and a most elegant appearance. The Standard is less excitable than the Miniature or the Toy but is, despite his dignified mien, full of fun and high sprits and can be very exuberant in play with his owners. A brave and discerning guard dog he will alert to visitors or any perceived threat. He has a strong sense of territory but his basically friendly nature makes anything more than warning barks highly unlikely. One of the major characteristics of the Poodle is his outstanding intelligence. To satisfy his bright, enquiring mind mental exercise is essential. Boredom is his enemy and if confined to a backyard without interaction with his family he will become depressed and miserable and will invent ways of amusing himself that may result in destructiveness or other nuisance behaviour. He hates solitude and needs human company. If he is included in as many family activities as possible and given mentally stimulating exercises and allowed to rest and relax within the family circle problematic behaviour is unlikely to occur. He is also an extremely sensitive dog and can become distressed by loud voices and tensions within the family. This sensitivity is combined with such intuition and awareness of human body language that he may seem to know what his owner wants before any signal or command has been given. For those prepared to deal with the necessary daily brushing and monthly clipping and the provision of sufficient mental and physical exercise the Standard Poodle will prove to be a most delightful companion.
For all his stylishness and grace the Poodle is a robust dog who retains his sporting instincts and stamina. He revels in exercise and regular brisk daily walks and the opportunity to run and romp in a secure area will keep him physically fit and help to keep him mentally alert. His athletic ability suits him to the sport of agility, and his energy and tenacity, combined with a good nose, make him an excellent tracking dog. He excels at any sport or game that involves him using his mind and like most Poodles, true to his heritage, he will enjoy a swim.
The Poodle is perhaps one of the easiest dogs to train provided that the method used is based on kindness, fairness, firmness and consistency with lavish praise, and perhaps a treat, for a job well done. Harsh verbal or physical methods will destroy both his responsiveness and his trust causing him to close in on himself and even to stop trying for fear of making a mistake. His willingness to learn and his eagerness to please mean that he will master new tasks quickly so the owner needs to be one step ahead in order to keep training fun and stimulating. Many Poodles compete very successfully in advanced obedience trials. Socialization should be an on-going process which is started in early puppyhood. Correct socialization will prevent the development of shyness or nervousness in unfamiliar situations or with unknown people.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
- juvenile cataracts
- hip dysplasia
- sebaceous adenitis
- susceptible to bloat
Some photographs of the Poodle (Standard)...