The Poodle, called the Pudel in German and the Caniche in French, is a breed of water dog. The breed is divided into four varieties based on size, the Standard Poodle, Medium Poodle, Miniature Poodle and Toy Poodle, although the Medium Poodle variety is not universally recognised. They have a distinctive thick, curly coat, and come in many colors, with only solid ones recognized by breed registries. While a reasonably healthy breed, they are prone to sebaceous adenitis and Addison's disease among other genetic disorders.

The Poodle most likely originated in Germany, although the Fédération Cynologique Internationale and a minority of cynologists believe it originated in France. Similar dogs date back to at least the 17th century, and it was first recognized by a kennel club in 1874. The Standard Poodle was originally used by wildfowl hunters to retrieve game from water. The smaller varieties of the breed were bred from in France, where they were once commonly used as circus performers. They are now one of the most popular dog breeds.

Other namesGerman: Pudel / French: Caniche
OriginGermany or France
HeightStandard — 45–62 cm (18–24 in) / Medium — 35–45 cm (14–18 in) / Miniature — 28–35 cm (11–14 in) / Toy — 24–28 cm (9.4–11.0 in)
WeightStandard — 20–32 kg (44–71 lb) / Medium — 15–19 kg (33–42 lb) / Miniature — 12–14 kg (26–31 lb) / Toy — 6.5–7.5 kg (14–17 lb)
Life span10–18 years(with the Standard Poodle, like most large dogs, tending to be more short-lived)

1. History

A majority of cynologists believe the Poodle originated in Germany in the Middle Ages, from a dog similar to today's Standard Poodle. The Poodle was Germany's water dog, just as England had the English Water Spaniel, France the Barbet, Ireland the Irish Water Spaniel and the Netherlands the Wetterhoun.[1][2][3][4][5] Among the evidence used to support this theory is the Germanic name for the breed, Poodle or "Pudel" in German, which is derived from the Low German word "puddeln", which means "to splash". Numerous works by various German artists from as early as the 17th century depict dogs of recognisably Poodle type.[1][2][3][5] Some cynologists believe the Poodle originated in France, where it is known as the "Caniche" (French for "duck dog"), and that the breed descends from the Barbet. This view is shared by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).[6][7] Others argue that the breed originated in Russia, Piedmont or Northwest Africa.[4][7]

Whatever the Poodle's country of origin, both their German and French breed names indicate the modern Poodle's ancestors were widely used by waterfowlers both to retrieve shot game and to recover lost arrows and bolts that had missed their mark.[3][4]

1.1 Size variants

Due to their intelligence, obedient nature, athleticism and looks the Poodle was frequently employed in circuses, particularly in France.[2][3][5][7] In French circuses the breed was selectively bred down in size to create what is now known as the Miniature Poodle, which was known as the Toy Poodle until 1907, as a smaller sized dog is easier to handle and transport in a travelling circus.[5] As circus performers the variety was frequently seen performing all manner of tricks including walking tightropes, acting out comedies and even performing magic and card tricks.[2][3][5]

The Toy Poodle was created at the beginning of the 20th century when breeders again bred the Miniature Poodle down in size to create a popular companion dog.[2][3][5] Initially, these efforts were not entirely effective, and disfigured or misshapen pups, as well as pups with behavioural problems, were seen frequently, as a result of irresponsible breeding for dwarfed size only. As time progressed, and new breeding practices were adopted, the variety became set as a toy sized replica of the original.[2][3][5] Later attempts to create an even smaller variety, the Teacup Poodle, were unable to overcome serious genetic abnormalities and were abandoned.[5]

The last of the Poodle varieties to be recognised was the Medium Poodle, which in size is mid way in between the Standard and the Miniature Poodle. Not universally recognised by the world's kennel clubs, the Medium Poodle is recognised by the FCI and most Continental European kennel clubs.[3][5][6] One of the reasons for creating this fourth size variety may have been a desire to reduce the number of entries of Poodles by variety at conformation shows.[5]

1.2 Recent history

The Poodle was recognised by the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom in 1874, and by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1886, soon after the founding of both clubs.[8] In the United States, poodles were unpopular until 1935, when the Poodle Champion Nunsoe Duc de la Terrace won best in show at Westminster. Afterwards, they rapidly gained prominence, becoming the AKC's most registered breed from 1960 to 1982.[9][10] Since 1935, Poodles have won best in show at Westminster 10 times, the second-most of any breed.[11] As of 2012, the Poodle was the third-most popular FCI registered breed worldwide, after the Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd, with 118,653 new dogs registered per year from the 25 countries surveyed.[12]

2. Description

2.1 Appearance

The Poodle is an active, athletic breed with the different varieties differing mostly by their size.[1][2][3] The FCI's breed standard states the Standard Poodle stands between 45 and 62 centimetres (18 and 24 in), the Medium Poodle between 35 and 45 centimetres (14 and 18 in), the Miniature Poodle between 28 and 35 centimetres (11 and 14 in) and the Toy Poodle 24 and 28 centimetres (9.4 and 11.0 in).

The kennel clubs which do not recognise the Medium Poodle variety typically have the Standard Poodle between 38 and 60 centimetres (15 and 24 in) and Miniature Poodle between 28 and 38 centimetres (11 and 15 in), with the toy variety remaining unchanged.[3][5][6]

A healthy adult Standard Poodle typically weighs between 20 and 32 kilograms (44 and 71 lb), a Medium Poodle between 15 and 19 kilograms (33 and 42 lb), a Miniature Poodle between 12 and 14 kilograms (26 and 31 lb) and a Toy Poodle between 6.5 and 7.5 kilograms (14 and 17 lb).[3]

2.1.1 Coat

Poodles have thick, curly coats with harsh fur. A pet owner can anticipate grooming a Poodle every four to eight weeks.[13]

Poodles are often cited as a hypoallergenic dog breed. Their individual hair follicles have an active growth period that is longer than that of many other breeds; combined with the tightly curled coat, which slows the loss of dander and dead hair by trapping it in the curls, an individual Poodle may release less dander and hair into the environment. However, researchers have generally not found a difference in allergens across breeds.[14][15][16]

2.1.2 Clips and grooming

The FCI and AKC allows Poodles to be shown in the Puppy, Continental (Lion in the FCI standard), English Saddle, or Sporting (Modern) clip. The FCI additionally recognizes the Scandinavian clip.[17][18] The most popular in the show ring is the Continental clip, where the face and rear end of the body are clipped, leaving tufts on the hocks and tip of the tail and rosettes on the hips.[5][19] A similar clip was historically used to prevent the poodle from getting weighted down by their fur when swimming to retrieve a bird, while still leaving their joints and vital organs covered.[11] Pet poodles are most often clipped similarly to the Sporting clip — evenly over their entire body, with the face and paws cut shorter.[19]

In most cases, whether a Poodle is in a pet or show clip, the hair is completely brushed out. Poodle hair can also be "corded" with rope-like mats similar to those of a Komondor or human dreadlocks. Though once as common as the curly Poodle, corded Poodles are now rare. Corded coats are difficult to keep clean and take a long time to dry after washing.[20] Corded Poodles may be shown in all major kennel club shows.[6][21]

2.1.3 Colours

The Poodle has a wide variety of colouring, including white, black, brown, blue, gray, silver, café au lait, silver beige, cream, apricot, and red, and patterns such as parti-, abstract, sable, brindle and phantom.[22] Recognized FCI colourations are black, white, brown, gray, and fawn.[18] Recognition of multi-colored Poodles varies by registry. They were common historically, but became less popular in the early 1900s, and are excluded from many registries.[23] The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes Poodles in either solid-coloured and multi-colored coats; however, only solid-colored poodles may compete in conformation.[19]

A parti-Poodle has patches of any accepted solid colour over a white coat. The coat will usually be white and coloured in equal amounts, though it can vary as long as the coat is at least half white.[24] When a parti-coloured Poodle has markings that resemble those of a tuxedo, it is called a "tuxedo" Poodle. The upper coat is solid black: head, back, tail; and the lower coat is white: neck, chest, abdomen, and legs, making up usually 40% or more of the coat. An abstract Poodle is primarily solid-coloured, with patches of white.[25]

Phantom Poodles have a solid main color with a lighter colour appearing on their "eyebrows", muzzle and throat, legs and feet and below their tail. Phantom Poodles may also have a full face of the secondary color.[24][22]

2.2 Temperament

Poodles are a highly intelligent, energetic, and sociable breed. A 1995 book by Stanley Corey ranked them second out of 130 breeds in "working and obedience intelligence", a measure of their ability to learn from humans.[26] They are an active dog, requiring regular physical and intellectual activities.[27] Shyness or sharpness is considered a serious fault in the breed.[17] Though not suitable as a guard dog because it is neither a territorial breed nor particularly aggressive, Poodles tend to be protective of their families and are good with children.[27]

3. Health

The Poodle Health Registry lists over 50 major health disorders of Standard Poodles.[8] Overall, the Poodle is a comparatively healthy breed, and there are no health problems unique to the breed. Poodles have a life expectancy of 10-18 years, with the Standard Poodle, like most large dogs, tending to be more short-lived.[27][13]

Despite their overall good health, Poodles suffer from a number of hereditary diseases due to inbreeding. Some of the worst common hereditary poodle diseases are the skin disease sebaceous adenitis (estimated prevalence 2.7%) and Addison’s disease, an endocrine system disorder. Both diseases became more prevalent in poodles after the 1960s burst in poodle popularity led to rapid breeding aimed at producing good show dogs. The breeding focused on a small number of popular bloodlines, creating a genetic bottleneck.[28][8] One study estimated that two average Standard Poodles are about as closely related as the offspring of two full sibling village dogs.[28]

4. Workd and Sport

Poodles were originally breed for waterfowl hunting.[18] Despite this history, they are currently classified as companion dogs by the FCI.[18] Since the late 1980s, some breeders in the United States and Canada have been selecting for dogs with drive for birds in order to revive the breed for hunting, with some success.[29] Poodles are highly trainable dogs that typically excel in obedience training.[27] Historically, they were a popular circus dog. In addition to hunt tests, they do well in agility and rally.[11] They are among the most popular service dog breeds.[30]

Poodles have been used as working dogs in the military since at least the 17th century, most likely because of their highly intelligent, trainable nature and background as a hunting dog making them suitable to battlefields, as evidenced by their ability to be trained to ignore gunfire. During the English Civil War, Prince Rupert of the Rhine had a famous hunting Poodle who would ride into battle with his master on horseback. Napoleon Bonaparte wrote in his memoirs about the faithfulness of a grenadier's pet Poodle who stayed with the body of his master at the Battle of Marengo.[31]

Related Breed