Contrary to popular belief the poodle is NOT a French dog. True it IS the national dog of France but they are actually a German dog. In fact the word poodle originates from the German word “puddeln” meaning to splash in water. In France this breed is called Caniche which means duck dog. In England they were known as “Rough Water Dogs” and were hunting companions. As you can see no matter the country, these beautiful dogs were originally bred for water retrieval and hunting. It is believed that the poodle is one of the oldest breeds used for water retrieval. It is also believed that the poodle has its beginnings in many European countries such as, Russia, Germany, and Portugal from their water retrieval dogs. Later in time as the poodle became a more distinct breed, they were bred down in size to become more of a companion dog give us the Miniature and Toy sizes of the breed. The standard poodle used to be smaller than it is today though. It is believed that it was bred with larger breeds to make it larger and more sturdy.
Because of their high intelligence and easy trainability the poodle excelled in whatever it did no matter its size. Poodles have been used for a variety of jobs in history as hunters, circus dogs, court and companion dogs for the rich and powerful, and truffle dogs (for sniffing out the truffle used in French gourmet cooking).
The original poodles were found in 3 distinct colors. Either solid black, solid white, or black and white in combination on one dog. This was known as the parti colored dog. Parti colored refers to any dog that is two or more colors. So you can see that parti colored dogs in their various patterns have been seen since the beginnings of the breed. They can also be seen in the show rings of some of the European countries and are bred more freely. Unfortunately in America the partis are looked down upon and are immersed in terrible half truths and whole lies about their heritage, their health, and that they are substandard in conformation. The United Kennel Club just recently made the decision to allow the parti or multicolored poodles into their conformation ring and they are doing remarkably well showing many people just how nice and up to standard these gorgeous poodles are. The Poodle Club Of America however still views the parti colored poodles as a fault and they are still not allowed in the conformation ring. They are however registrable with the AKC and can compete in all sporting events.
Poodles are know for their coats and beautiful hair cuts. The cuts that are seen today in the show ring actually have a purpose and function from the past. These cuts were used to protect the dogs joints and internal organs in cold water but not leave too much hair as to weigh them down and cause drowning. In the past their big beautiful coats were usually seen in two types; corded and curly. The corded coat is very rarely seen today. It requires a lot of time, work and dedication to keep up these corded coats especially on a dog being shown. Many people find these show dog clips to be fru-fru and impossible to maintain. There are however literally hundreds of cuts to put a poodle into that are much easier to maintain for the average pet owner. They are a high maintenance breed and require constant grooming as their hair does not stop growing and they do not shed their undercoat as most dogs do, so it must be brushed out.
Poodles were first recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1886 and the American parent club The Poodle Club Of America was founded in 1896. The PCA maintains the standards or breed expectations that should be seen in America for each of the 3 sizes. All 3 sizes hold to the same breed standard, the only difference between the three sizes are their height requirements. Poodles are shown in conformation in the Non-Sporting class for the Standard and Miniature sizes and the Toy class for the toy size. Poodles were first recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1914. The poodle was then divided into two breeds Standard poodle and Poodle in 1999. Poodles are shown in conformation in the Gun Dog Class for the Standard poodle size and in the Companion Breed class for the Miniature and Toy sizes.