While this stylish dog may have a reputation for being posh and standoffish, these 10 facts about Poodles will show you that there is much more to this cute canine than meets the eye. Known for its trendy looks, the Poodle is often associated with fashion and wealth, but this non-sporting breed is much more friendly, athletic and intelligent than people may think.
Bred as a working dog, Poodles are smart, talented and eager to please their owners. They make loyal and affectionate family dogs and they are generally very healthy. And although they may be quite high-maintenance when it comes to grooming, they have a playful, but dignified temperament that will enchant you.
1. The French Poodle is not actually French
While the breed is often called the French Poodle, this is actually a misnomer. In fact, Poodles aren’t French at all. Known as Canich or duck dog in France, they may be the country’s national dog, but they were originally from Germany. The name Poodle derives from the German word ‘pudel’, which translates as ‘puddle’ or ‘to splash in water’. The Pudelhund as the Germans call it, became popular during the 15th and 16th centuries thanks to paintings of the breed by artist Albrecht Dürer.
2. Poodles were bred to hunt
While today they are a non-sporting breed, Poodles were originally bred as hunting dogs. They were used to retrieve waterfowl such as ducks for hunters. They are often still used for this purpose today as these water dogs have soft mouths so they are able to pick up the dead birds gently. It’s not only waterfowl that they hunt; however. Poodles can be trained from four months of age to sniff out truffle mushrooms thanks to their excellent sense of smell.
3. They have hair not fur
Think fur and hair on a dog are the same thing? Well, you’d be wrong. The difference between the two is that fur grows up to a certain stage and then falls out or sheds, whereas hair doesn’t stop growing. Poodles have hair that continues to grow throughout its life so they need regular grooming. Fortunately, this means they are generally categorised as ‘hypoallergenic’ dogs, making them great for people with allergies, as they have low dander and shedding.
4. There’s a reason behind the Poodle hairstyle
You may think the Poodle hairstyle is just a fashion choice or trend, but it originally served a purpose. Hunting waterfowl meant these dogs were often running into cold water to fetch birds. Wet hair does not make for an efficient swimmer, but shearing their hair off completely would not protect the dogs from the cold so their hair was cut strategically around their joints and upper torso to help them hunt well, while keeping their extremities and vital organs warm.
5. They have lots of different hairstyles
Since the days when hairstyle served a function, Poodles now enter competitions for their coiffed puffs and pompoms. There are three main hairstyles for competition: the continental clip where everywhere is shaved except the face, ears, shoulders, paws and tail to create the famous pom pom effect, the modified continental clip where the fur around the rear of the poodle is also shaved off and the English saddle, a fuller coat around the chest and pelvis and extra pom poms on the legs. Puppies compete with a puppy clip — an even cut all over.
6. They come in different sizes and colors
Although they are all classed by the American Kennel Club as one breed, there are three main sizes of Poodle: the Toy Poodle (standing up to 10in/25.4cm tall), the Miniature Poodle (up to 15in/13.8cm tall) and the Standard Poodle (over 15in/13.8cm tall). The AKC does not recognise them as breeds, but the Klein (14-18in/35.5-45.7cm) and Teacup Poodle (9in/22.8cm) are also types of Poodle.
The most common Poodle colour is black, but their coats can also be red, apricot, sable, blue, silver, cream, white and brown.
7. They’re the second smartest dog
According to a study by dog psychologist Stanley Coren, which tested 138 dogs for obedience and working intelligence, the Poodle is the second smartest dog after the Border Collie. The breed is easy to train and can learn a new command within the first five repetitions.
One toy poodle was so smart he even taught himself how to use an elevator at the nursing home where his owner worked. Because Poodles are smart they will need plenty of mental stimulation to keep them from mischief.
8. Elvis loved them
The king of rock himself, Elvis Presley, was a huge fan of Poodles. In fact, he loved them so much that he even kept an entire collection of them at his home in Graceland and would gift the dogs to his girlfriends. When he got married, his wife Priscilla’s Poodle was named Honey.
Other American icons that were devoted Poodle owners include: Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, and Walt Disney.
9. They’re active dogs
As a well-groomed, non-sporting dog, you may not think of Poodles as sporty or athletic, but this is a breed of active dogs. They will need lots of exercise – at least an hour a day as they will need to be kept physically and mentally stimulated. If you’re looking for a dog that will happily play fetch or join you for long walks or jogs, the Poodle is perfect for you. As water dogs they also love to swim!
10. They were once used as sled dogs
Think huskies are the only sled dogs? Well, the Poodle was once used for the sport. In 1988 John Musher entered the Iditarod Dog Sled Race with a team made up solely of Standard Poodles.
Unfortunately, there’s a reason dog sledding is now only northern breeds such as Siberian Huskies and Malamutes as many of the dogs had to be dropped off at check-up points, unable to continue the race because of the cold conditions.
At your service
Thanks to their work ethic, intelligence and skills, Poodles make great service dogs. They’re used as guide, assistance, and therapy. As you can see from the list above, the Poodle is a dog of many talents.
If you choose to give a Poodle a home their greatest service will be providing you with a loyal and loving companion that just so happens to look good too!
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