"[Poodles] are Labradors with college educations. After a day of retrieving, your Lab wants to curl up in front of the fireplace and take a well deserved nap. A Poodle wants to be fourth at the bridge table and tell naughty stories!” -Anne Rogers Clark (the first woman to win Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show)
The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1890 and by the 1960’s, they were the most popular breed in America. Poodles enjoyed a long reign as the most popular dog in the USA for 23 years (1960-1982), the longest any breed has held that position consecutively - a true testament to its suitability as a family pet. The Poodle, though often equated to the beauty with no brains, is exceptionally smart, active and excels in obedience training. The Poodle is regarded as the second most intelligent breed of dog after the Border Collie and before the German Shepherd Dog. He is also the only breed that comes in three size varieties. This size choice may be why the Poodle is one of the most popular breeds according to AKC Registration statistics.
Poodles can be a variety of solid colors, including white, black, apricot, and gray. According to the AKC breed standard, the Poodle cannot be parti-colored. The Standard Poodle usually lives 11-12 years.
Poodles are people oriented and eager to please. They are smart, lively, and active. They make great watch dogs as well as hunting dogs. The Poodle learns tricks quickly and is one of the easiest dogs to house train. Poodles are recommended by the AKC for allergy sufferers because they do not shed and have very low dander.
A Look Back
The Poodle that we know today probably developed around the 17th century. The breed originated in Germany as a water retriever. The name Poodle comes from the German Pudel which is short for Pudelhund meaning “splashing dog“. It was highly valued as an excellent water dog because it was extremely intelligent and cooperative. The Poodle is the oldest known water retriever breed. The stylish "Poodle clip" was designed by hunters to help the dogs move through the water more efficiently. The legs and hindquarters were shaved so the dogs could move freely in the water without a lot of hair weighing them down. The patches of hair left on the body are meant to protect vital organs and joints which are susceptible to cold. Their natural retrieving instinct and "soft mouth" made them ideal in retrieving a variety of objects. The Poodle continued to retain characteristics such as webbed feet and a dense, water repellent coat from the water retriever background.
The Standard variety is the oldest of the three varieties. The Miniature variety may have been used for truffle hunting. The Toy Poodle was often used in performances and circuses. They were court favorites during the reign of Louis XVI and Queen Anne. The original colors for the Poodle were brown and black. The Poodle became a popular pet for the French aristocracy, and in time was officially adopted as the national dog.
In the early 1930's, there were only about 35 registered Poodles in the United States. The first obedience trial in North America was held in October 1933. Between 1931 and 1933, Poodles had provided the means of working out details for obedience rules; still earlier, they provided the original inspiration for the sport on this side of the Atlantic. Obedience training and exhibition at obedience trials are birthrights of modern Poodles. In 1935, a white Standard Poodle handled by Mrs. Sherman Hoyt won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York (see B/W photo of Sherman Hoyt's white Poodle dog Blakeen Osprey who won Best of the Standard Poodles in the 1947 Westminster Kennel Club show).
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dogs for Defense, Inc. was initiated and became the official procurement agency for all war dogs used in the Army, Navy and Coast Guard. In 1943, the Poodle was included in a list of 18 official dog breeds used by the Army because "this breed has unusual ability to learn and retain and keen senses." The soldier dog training manual stated, "The Standard Poodle as a military dog presents a far different appearance from the traditionally landscaped Poodle seen at a dog show. He is clipped all over for Army work, and his coat is allowed to grow out to a length of 1 or 2 inches, either all over, or with the face and feet clipped bare. Thus cut down, the Poodle looks like a medium-sized retriever. He stands from 20 to 25 inches high, weighing from 50 to 75 pounds. His coat is tightly curled, very dense, of any solid color. He is a sturdy, squarely built dog, active and poised. Special traits. Unusual ability to learn rapidly, good retention, patience, agility, versatility, courage, keen nose and hearing."
The Poodle's popularity soared in the 1960s and 70s, and it was the top registered dog in the AKC for approximately 20 years.
Poodles performed in the 1978 Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus because of their popularity and intelligence.
John Suter competed in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in 1988 thru 1991 with his team of Standard Poodles. The poodles finished all four Iditarod Races.
Today, the Poodle still remains a top 10 ranked breed in the United States. Statistically, the Poodle was ranked the #9 dog breed in the USA in 2009 and 2010 AKC Registration. The Poodle rose to #8 ranking in 2011. The Poodle was the #5 breed in Baltimore in 2009 and #2 breed in Washington, DC in 2011 out of almost 170 total AKC recognized breeds.
Right Breed for You?
The Poodle can accommodate nearly any size living quarters. Poodles are recommended by the AKC for allergy sufferers because they do not shed and have very low dander. However their coat requires regular professional grooming every 4-6 weeks. The Poodle is an active breed and requires daily exercise.
The Standard Poodle is over 15 inches at the highest point of the shoulders.
The Miniature Poodle is 15 inches or under at the highest point of the shoulders, with a minimum height in excess of 10 inches.
The Toy Poodle is 10 inches or under at the highest point of the shoulders.
"Designer Dogs", "Labradoodles", "Goldendoodles", and other Cross Breeds
This is a marketing ploy for irresponsible "breeders" to sell puppies for highly inflated prices. Responsible breeders do not practice breeding purebreds together to produce "designer dogs" or "doodles." The Labrador Retriever Club states, "A Labradoodle is nothing more than an expensive mongrel... The dog may be any size, color, coat texture and temperament. Indeed Labradoodles do shed... These crossbreds are a deliberate attempt to mislead the public with the idea that there is an advantage to these designer dogs. The crossbred dogs are prone to all of the genetic disease of both breeds and offer none of the advantages that owning a purebred dog has to offer." The Golden Retriever Club of America has adopted the same staement. The Poodle Club of America states, "Not all of the non shedding promises held true... and the heritable disease of both breeds turned out to be very similar, and were inherited into each new generation of Labradoodles." A prospective puppy owner considering any breed mixed with a Poodle as an improvement on the real thing should consider the information provided in these articles and then contact their local shelter if still interested in obtaining a cross breed.