Poodles always make the list of the most popular dogs in the US. This glamorous breed – a favorite with movie stars, European royalty, and the political and literary elite – may look pampered and pretty, but in fact, they were traditionally bred as water retrievers, collecting waterfowl from rivers and lakes.
Dog owners and breeders really can’t get enough of them, so much so that a proliferation of cross-bred Poodles has gathered pace over the past few decades. There are now cockapoos, shihpoos, goldendoodles, labradoodles and so on... Everyone seems to want a bit of Poodle.
Here are some of the reasons why Poodles have such enduring popularity.
32 reasons to love Poodles
1. They have an illustrious European heritage
The Poodle’s name comes from the German word “pudeln”, which means to splash about. But they’re actually the national dog of France, where their name is “caniche”, which derives from “chien canard”, or “duck dog”.
2. Elvis Presley loved Poodles
Not only did he keep them as pets himself, but he gave them to girlfriends. Another popstar, Lady Gaga, is also a fan.
3. They're the choice of presidents
President Nixon kept a Poodle named Vicky, and President Kennedy’s wife, Jackie, had one called Gaullie. British prime minister Winston Churchill had brown miniature Poodles named Rufus and his replacement, Rufus II.
4. Famous authors loved them
John Steinbeck, who wrote Grapes of Wrath among many other classic novels, travelled around the US with a Poodle named Charley. Other Poodle-loving doyens of the literary sphere include the 19th-century English novelist Charles Dickens, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy and French Romantic writer Victor Hugo.
5. Poodles have great value
Poodles are expensive to buy. And a silver grey toy poodle by the name of Masterpiece was the world’s most valuable dog. Alexis Pulaski’s home-bred was a star of the dog-showing world in the mid-20th century, reportedly worth $20,000 (which Pulaski reportedly turned down), and earned vast sums as a model and in stud fees. Sadly, he went missing in 1953 and was never seen again.
6. Poodles are a versatile working dog
They make great service dogs, guide dogs, assistance dogs and therapy dogs. Less frequently mentioned on their CV is their knack at truffle hunting.
7. Poodles don’t shed (much)
For people with allergies, Poodles are a great choice as they shed very lightly, and are listed as hypoallergenic according to the American Kennel Club. However, allergens can come from a dog’s skin, hair and saliva so they can still cause allergies. Their tight curly coats trap most of the shed hair and dander, meaning they are less likely to trigger allergic reactions.
8. They come in different sizes
There are three size varieties: tiny toy poodles (no more than 10in at the shoulder), little miniature ones (15in or under) and standard (more than 15in). A size for every taste.
9. There are loads of different clips
The most common clip for the show ring is the Continental clip, but away from the showing regulations there are myriad other styles with enticing names, such as the “Jacket and Pants”, “Fifth Avenue” or “Bikini” clip. The location and abundance of the specific puffs and pompons have very strict rules.
10. Poodles are naturally affectionate
This is a very companionable breed, typically loyal and loving to members of their tribe. They can be wary of strangers, but are great with children and other pets in their own household.
11. Poodles are very smart
Easy to train, with an appetite for learning from humans, the poodle also tends to have a stubborn streak that only serves to underline its high intelligence levels. As is common with many smart breeds, they have boundless energy, and you need to keep their busy minds occupied, such as with advanced obedience classes.
12. Poodles are full of fun
This makes them a great option as a family dog, because they enjoy playing with active children. They are naturally extremely patient and have bundles of energy.
13. Poodles have a great work ethic
They may have a reputation for being pampered and precious but they are in fact a diligent working dog, who was originally bred to retrieve ducks and other waterfowl. They love a game of fetch, especially if it involves a dip in the water.
14. Poodles are super swimmers
Bred as duck hunters, Poodles are naturals in the water. They have various attributes that help their swimming ability, including a waterproof coat and webbed paws, which act like paddles. They are typically active high-energy dogs that have plenty of stamina for swimming. Even the name Poodle derives from Pudelhund in German, literally Puddle Hound.
15. Poodles come in a variety of colors
For those who like to choose their dog color like most people choose wall paint, the Poodle’s array of colors is ideal. From apricot, to silver beige or cafe au lait, there are 11 standard colours in the US, with eight accepted in the UK.
16. Their puffs and pompons signal practicality over fashion
Many people think their clips are just a fancy fashionable trim, but traditionally Poodles were clipped to help the dog’s propulsion through the water, while hair was left in various areas, such as joints, face and tail, for warmth and protection.
17. A Poodle is an athlete
They may look pretty and pampered, but the were bred to work and excel in advanced obedience competition, or anything involving retrieving and jumping. They have a lovely springy gait – an elegant athlete.
18. Poodles are ideal for home-workers
Poodles love companionship, so if you work from home or spend a lot of time alone, you’ll have a wonderful companion. Conversely, if you spend hours out of the home and leave the Poodle behind, they won’t be happy. They do get lonely, and may resort to destructive behaviour or barking if they are left alone too long.
19. Poodles make good watch-dogs
Poodles aren’t by nature aggressive, but they are loyal to their people and will bark at strangers. Polite, but reserved, and will definitely let you know if a stranger is at the door.
20. You can teach a Poodle tricks
Due to a Poodle’s exceptional intelligence, they are a great breed for teaching anything from basic obedience to impressive tricks.
21. Poodles are long-living
While the average lifespan of a medium-sized dog is 10–13 years, a Poodle’s life expectancy is longer at 12–15.
22. A Poodle understands quite a vocabulary!
Stanley Coren, the expert in canine intelligence, estimated that the average pet dog can be trained to learn 165 words. According to Coren, a superbly trained Poodle can learn more like 250 words (learning new commands with fewer than five repetitions compared the average of 25–40). Some Poodle owners claim they can learn over 300!
23. Poodles are obedient
Canine obedience is a measure of intelligence, and as Poodles ranks as the second most intelligent dog on the planet, they score highly in the obedience stakes. What this really means is that they are easy to train and they pick up new commands quickly. On the flip side, their cleverness means they need plenty of mental stimulation and activity or they may get bored and find interesting things to do for themselves.
24. Gallic approval
France final king, Louis XVI, prior to being beheaded in the French Revolution, was famously fond of his toy poodles, following a family tradition. The most famous Poodles were called Bonne and Filou, and they were said to have slept on satin sheets, worn diamond collars and enjoyed the services of a private chef!
The previous Louis (XV) made the Poodle the official dog in the French Court.
25. Poodles: the artist’s muse
Many artists featured Poodles in their paintings, even centuries ago. For example, work by the German painter Albrecht Dürer shows the Poodle was well established as a breed in the 15th/16th centuries, Spaniard Francisco Goya in depicting 18th century Spanish aristocracy, and Dutchman Rembrandt in a self-portrait.
26. Poodles are born entertainers
Thanks to their high intelligence, obedience and ability to learn commands quickly, when the French royalty collapsed in the Revolution, the Poodle moved from the court to the circus. Poodles were popular performers in the circus, showing off their exotic hairstyles and flamboyant pompons alongside the clowns.
27. Poodle-crosses are exceptionally popular
The abundance of -poos and -doodles show quite how popular the Poodle is for cross-breeding, with people wanting to harness all its wonderful attributes. Cockapoos, Labradoodles, Cavapoos, Goldendoodles and Jackapoos all feature among the most popular mix-breeds. It begs the question, why not just get a Poodle?
28. Poodles have a good nose for a delicacy
Poodles can do many jobs – but so can other breeds. One of the more niche jobs they are used for is to hunt for truffles. It’s true that there is one breed, the Lagotto Romagnolo, actually bred to track down these expensive delicacies, but Toy Poodles have been favoured for the role because unlike other dogs with strong scenting ability, they have less inclination to track game, and their smaller size means they do less damage to this high-priced fungus.
29. Poodles aren’t smelly
They shed much less than other dogs and therefore emit less dander into the air – the result being they smell less “doggy”.
30. Poodles go back a long way
Poodles were one of the first breeds included in the American Kennel Club, in 1886. But they may go back to ancient Rome or even Greece, as depictions of Poodle-like dogs have been found on the coins of the time.
31. Poodles hold world records
The Poodle is a great trick-learning breed. A rescued black Poodle going by the name of Sailor holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest 10 meters on a walking globe by a dog (33.22sec). In 2015 Sailor also held the record for the fastest time to climb 20 stairs by a dog on its hind legs and was beaten 12 months later by Arsenal – another Poodle!
32. Poodles are stars of the silver screen
Poodles play the main part in several box-office hits, including 100% Wolf and Best in Show.
Enjoyed this? Find out which are the most playful dogs.
Get the best advice, tips and top tech for your beloved Pets
Martha is an experienced journalist working in both print and digital media. She specializes in the canine, equine and rural sphere where she has covered a wide range of topics from cloning animals and the ingredients for a perfect yard dog, to helping owners find the best canine GPS trackers on the market. When she’s not busy writing about dogs and horses, she’ll be found either aboard a horse or looking after the menagerie of pets in her care.