The poodle is an elegant, intelligent and athletic dog. In fact, they have been rated as one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They are an adaptable dog, easily living in both a rural and urban environment. However, their high intelligence requires them to be mentally and physically stimulated. If you are looking for a couch potato that can be left alone to their own devises all day this is NOT the breed for you!
They are great companions and are happiest when they have their humans nearby. Easily adapting to any environment, from apartment living to farm life, they have a great sense of humor and are playful and happy if given the proper attention and stimulation. Poodles are sensitive to their families and surroundings. And are often mistaken for a "sissy" breed, partly because of the way they are groomed for showing. However, they are used for many sports, such as hunting, obedience, dock diving, agility, rally and much more. They have also been used as sevice dogs and in the military.
Interestingly, the show cut, such as the continental, shown below, was actually begun as a protective measure when they were used for retrieving game from cold water. The head and chest have long hair to protect their organs. The bands of hair around the legs would help protect the joints from the cold. The rest of the body was shaved to allow for swift movement through the water.
Standard Poodle in a Continental Show cut. (stock photo)
A Bit of History
The poodles ancestors can be traced back to central Asia with varying theories on their evolution. One is that they originated from curly coated herding dogs that traveled with tribes of Goths to later become German hunting dogs.
They are one of the oldest purebred dog breeds. And although many associate the poodle with France, they most likely originated in Germany and were called Pudels, which in German means "to splash about." They were used in swamps to retrieve fallen birds. In France they were called the “chien canard or caniche,” and were used for hunting ducks.
Part of their popularity may have stemmed from their time performing in traveling circuses. The breed was adopted by the French aristocracy and could often be found as an adornment to early century French woman. In fact, the Poodle is now considered the national dog of France.
The Poodle comes in a several sizes - Standard, Moyen (also called the Klein or Medium Poodle), Miniature, and Toy. It is generally believed that the original size was the Standard Poodle. These are the largest of the breed, with a height anywhere from 15 to 24 inches and weight of approximately 45 to 70 pounds. The median lifespan is 12 years with a typical range from 11 to 13 years old.
The Moyen, not recognized by the AKC, falls between the Standard and the Miniature Poodle size and typically stands between 15 to 20 inches tall with a weight from 20 to 30 pounds. Gaining popularity in the United States, it has long been a recognized breed in Europe. Their median lifespan is approximately 13 years, with a range from 12 to 15 years old.
Next in size is the Miniature Poodle. They generally have a height of 11 to 15 inches and weigh around 15 to 17 pounds. The median lifespan for the Miniature Poodle is 15 years, with a range of 14 to 16 years old.
The smallest of the breed is the Toy Poodle. They stand from eight to ten inches and weigh around 6 to 9 pounds. They have a typical lifespan of 14 to 16 years, with a median lifespan of 15 years.
Miniature Poodle (stock photo)
Toy Poodle (stock photo)
All of the sizes have similar characteristics, although many feel that the Standard tends to have the calmer temperament, and is the most athletic. Whatever size, the Poodle is an excellent companion. And with its combination of quick intelligence and devotion you will not be disappointed to have a Poodle by your side.
Poodles require a lot of grooming. They have a thick curly coat that grows continuously. If not brushed properly, at least once or twice a week, it will become matted and unmanageable. The Poodle should be groomed every four to six weeks, more often for puppies going through coat change.
Standard Poodle puppies have soft wavy hair. Their coats begin to change somewhere between six and 24 months into the adult poodle's tight curls that have a dense, harsh texture. This change from puppy coat to adult coat typically takes about three months. During this time the hair is much more prone to matting as the curlier harsh hair tangles with the soft waves. If not groomed frequently, even daily, it can turn into a real mess.
If you own a poodle you will need to find a trustworthy groomer, or learn to do it yourself. There are a number of cuts that can be done on a poodle. You will be amazed at the myriad of shapes and styles! Here are a few from Animalwised for your viewing pleasure. Just remember that depending on the groomer, not all the names and styles are consistent. We find the easiest cuts for maintenance are the puppy cut and the sporting cut. We also love a modified Miami cut!
Poodle Colors Galore
Most people are familiar with some of the more typical solid poodle colors, such as the blacks, whites, silvers, and cremes, but poodles come in many different colors. To name a few there are red, apricot, brown, cafe au lait, silver beige and multicolored poodles such as parti poodles, phantom, brindle and sable. Here is a website that describes many of the colors available in poodles, and this website goes deeper into the science of poodle color.
The AKC only recognizes solid colored poodles for the conformation show ring but multicolored poodles have been around for centuries, and there is evidence that the first poodles were multicolored. When breeders began importing poodles from Europe many decided that the solid colors were more desirable and thus began breeding only for solids. However, multicolored poodles are making a comeback in the United States, and they can be shown in the UKC conformation ring.
Our foundation girl, Taz, is considered a multicolored poodle, called an abstract or mismark because of the white markings on her chest and feet. Her dam is considered a parti, as more than 50 percent of her is white.
Behavior and Training
Poodles quick intelligence and eagerness to please makes them very trainable. However, they are sensitive dogs and need to be handled carefully. That same intelligence can make them stubborn and problematic!