Poodles are among the most instantly recognizable of all dog breeds. Known largely for their stylish looks, the athletic, eager, and intelligent Poodle has so many more talents besides simply looking pretty. Learn more than you thought you knew about this iconic Non-Sporting Group breed.
1. Poodles Originated in Germany
Although it is the national dog of France, the Poodle actually originated in Germany. The breed name comes from the German word “pudel” or “pudelin,” which means “to splash in the water.” In France, the breed is called “Caniche,” which is French for “duck dog.”
2. They Were Originally Bred as Hunting Dogs
These dogs were originally bred to be water retrievers. Their job was to bring ducks and other birds back to their masters. They haven’t lost their skills over the years. Some waterfowl hunters still use Poodles in the field today.
3. The Poodle Cut Is Functional
It might seem like the ultimate canine fashion statement, but the traditional Poodle cut is really all about function, not fashion. Less hair would make the Poodle a more efficient swimmer but more vulnerable to cold water. To get the best of both worlds, Poodle owners placed puffs of hair around the joints and the upper torso to protect the joints and vital organs.
4. There Are Several Poodle Hairstyles
Each Poodle haircut has very specific rules about where the puffs and pompoms of hair should be and how long they should be. To compete as show dogs, adult Poodles must have one of three hairdos—the Continental Clip, the Modified Continental Clip, or the English Saddle. Puppies in competitions have the official Puppy Clip, which is an even length all over the body.
5. They Come in Three Sizes
From the tiny Toy Poodle to the mid-sized Miniature Poodle and large Standard Poodle, the breed comes in different sizes. All the sizes fall under the same breed and are expected to comply with the same breed standard.
6. Poodles Are Highly Active
Taking a cue from their history as duck hunters, Poodles (regardless of size) need lots of exercise. They’re excellent retrievers and enjoy a good game of fetch, as well as jogging and long walks. Since they’re superb water dogs, swimming is another great option.
7. They Have Hair, Not Fur
Poodle hair, like human hair, can respond to hormonal changes in the body. Female Poodles can experience hair thinning or loss after having puppies.
8. Lots of Poodles Have Jobs
Poodles are among the smartest dog breeds. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them great service dogs. Poodles are also employed as guide dogs, assistance dogs for people with other physical disabilities, and therapy dogs. They’ve even been utilized as truffle hunters due to their keen noses.
9. Poodles Once Competed in the Iditarod
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race takes place every year in Alaska and is now restricted to northern breeds well-adapted to the cold. This rule restricting the breeds was adopted after a musher named John Suter attempted to compete with a team of Standard Poodles in 1988. Some of the Poodles were so cold, with frozen feet and hair-matting problems, that they had to be dropped off at checkpoints.
10. American Icons Have Owned Poodles
Elvis Presley was particularly fond of Poodles. He kept them as pets and frequently gave them to girlfriends. U.S. presidents and their spouses have also owned Poodles. Richard Nixon had a Poodle named Vicky, while First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy owned a Standard Poodle called Gaullie.