The Poodle is one of the most iconic of dog breeds, instantly recognisable to almost everyone. There are three kinds of poodle: Standard, Miniature and Toy, each with its own unique look, but all have the general aspects of this popular breed. Believed to have originated in Germany, it was considered a water dog, bred for to assist game hunters. It is thought that German soldiers then introduced it into France, where it became known for retrieving ducks and also hunting truffles. The smaller poodles also became extremely popular as lap dogs. Nowadays, the Poodle is classified as a utility dog and is famed for its unique appearance and vivacious character.
The height of the Poodle depends on the version in question:
Standard: Shoulder height over 38cms (15 inches)
Miniature: Shoulder height must be between 28cms (11 inches) and 38cms (15 inches)
Toy: Shoulder height must be below 28cms (11 inches)
Poodles have a refined and delicate appearance, with a long and relatively narrow head and well-contoured chin. Its ears hang close to its face and it should have strong jaws. Although small compared with many other dogs, it should have a muscular body with wide chest, powerful loins and straight legs. Traditionally, the tail was docked, but this practice has now been outlawed in many European countries, and the tail should stand out straight from the body without curling.
The Poodle is perhaps best known for its unique coat, which is formed of rough close curls and does not shed. This dense coat makes it ideal for shaping into different cuts for the show ring, although the family pet may also have its coat shaped to add to its attractiveness. Poodles can be found with many different colours to their coat, but for show purposes it's essential that the colour is uniform and not mottled or patterned in any way.
The Poodle is full of life and vitality, often exhibiting an extrovert personality, which made it very popular as a circus dog years ago. It is intelligent and easy to train, being eager to learn new skills, and makes a wonderful show dog as it generally loves the ring and the attention it receives. It is well suited to obedience training and its outgoing character makes it the ideal family pet.
Health and welfare
A regular grooming routine is essential for the Poodle so that its dense coat stays in excellent condition. Dogs can be left unclipped, but many owners prefer to have their dog clipped as it adds to its overall appearance and also makes maintaining the coat easier.
Poodles are susceptible to several inherited conditions. Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism) is relatively common in this breed and can be identified with a blood test. Prompt and ongoing treatment can ensure that the dog enjoys a good quality of life. Sebacious Adenitis is also often seen. This can be difficult to identify at first, but any problem should be addressed without delay, as the dog may have to be euthanised in severe cases. Other conditions affecting the Poodle include: Bloat / Torsion, Liver Shunt, Lobular Dissecting Hepatitis, Juvenile Renal Disease and other auto-immune diseases, as well as conditions also found in other breeds. Reputable breeders will ensure their dogs are properly screened for inherited conditions and regular check-ups will identify other problems quickly.
The Poodle has long been seen an excellent choice for owners seeking a lively show-dog or a cheerful and friendly family pet, making it one of the most popular of dog breeds.