Poodles are an ancient breed, and have been present in artwork and stories since the 15th century. They were originally water retriever dogs bred in Germany and were called "pudelhunds." Pudel comes from the word "splash" in German, and is similar to "puddle" in English. Poodles became popular breeds in France, and were eventually named the country's national breed. Their webbed feet make them excellent swimmers, and because of their retrieving abilities they are often used as hunting companions. They were also used as "war-time dogs" trained for the Dogs for Defense program during WWII. As one of the most intelligent dog breeds, Poodles have served every purpose, from living as toy-size companions for European aristocracy, to working as hardy and obedient hunters. With good training, there is no limit to what this breed can do.
Poodles can come in many colors, from white, black, silver, apricot, and amber, sable, chocolate, phantom (similar to Doberman Pinscher coloring) to golden and cream. They can be solid, spotted, or brindled. Their coats can have a range of textures, from soft and wooly, to wavy or course and corded (similar to dreadlocks). Poodles are one of the most frequently blended breeds, feeding into countless "hybrid" combinations, as their mostly hypoallergenic coats make them a sought after breed to mix with. Beyond the hybrids, a full-bred Poodle can come in standard size, miniature size and toy.
Poodles are known to be intelligent dogs that need to respect their owner in order to have a healthy relationship. They are sensitive pets, picking up on subtle vocal intonations and authoritative demeanors of the people around them. Overall, they tend to be pleasant, good-natured and upbeat comrades, and are well behaved with children and other dogs. Standard poodles usually have a more relaxed personality than the smaller toy versions, who can be very energetic and demanding. Most Poodles do not like being left alone, and are affectionate with owners. They are highly trainable and can learn to be guard dogs, hunters, and protectors.
This breed's intelligence can cause them to disrespect and disregard their owner, if the Poodles believes himself to posses the stronger mind and higher authority. Therefore, they will appreciate firm boundaries, and will submit to a master, if they feel that he is superior to them. Consistency, strength and gentleness are key when training your Poodle to obey on command.
Poodles can have eye troubles such as infections, blindness, or cataracts. They sometimes suffer from skin allergies and irritation (often associated with shampoos or grooming that has been too close to the skin), ear infections, heart disease, hip dysplasia, cancer and tumors, as well as digestive problems and bloating. They function best when they are fed several small meals a day rather than overloading their system with one large serving.
Poodles require daily walks, seeming to have more even dispositions if they spend time outside. They typically do not need rigorous exercise, though Standard Poodles usually have more energy and athletic stamina than the smaller versions. All poodles love swimming, and will enjoy any outing that involves water.
Poodles enjoy exercise, and if given daily walks, prove to be decently calm indoors. They can manage apartment living, though a small yard would be preferable.
Poodles that will be shown in competitions require elaborate grooming. They will need to be bathed and "clipped" nearly every 6-8 weeks. While many owners choose not to groom their Poodles, the variations of grooming options range in different styles, and can require dedication and financial commitment. Some of the most popular styles are the English Saddle, the Continental clip, the Miami clip, and the lamb clip, etc., all of which showcase unique styles of grooming for a Poodle's coat. Beyond the surface grooming, Poodles also require ear washing and checkups, as well as attention to their gums and teeth.