The Poodle is an agile gun dog noted for its superb bird hunting skills and its ability in the water. It is a well-balanced, squarely proportioned breed with an elegant appearance. The Poodle is distinguished by a very special form of clip for the purpose of show activity. It is often described as a good-tempered breed. It has long, fine head with a broad skull and well-chiselled foreface. It has almond-shaped eyes, long, low-set ears that hang close to the face, nose that varies in colour depending on the colour of the coat, and teeth that forms a regular scissor bite. A well-proportioned neck carries the head high and with dignity. The forelegs are straight and well-muscled while the hindlegs have muscular thighs cushioned by small, oval feet with thick and hard padding. The Poodle also has a wide, deep chest with a short back. The highly set tail is customarily docked to at least half of its original length. It has very profuse, dense, harsh coat characterized by thick and curly hairs. This thick coat is usually groomed in either “pet clip” style with short hair of equal length all over the body; “English saddle” clip and the “continental” clip which shows the dog in partially sheared form with hair puffs left on the ankles and balls of fur left on the hips and tip of the tail.
The Poodle is probably the most popular breed in the world. However, popular as it may be, the true origin of the breed is relatively unknown and debatable, but it was already a popular subject of painters as early as 400 years ago. Most breed experts believe that the Poodle came from Central Europe or Russia. Although it is officially recognized as a breed that originated in France, some still claim that it was first developed by German breeders and was brought to France by early German soldiers during the early Renaissance period. It was originally bred as a water dog used for retrieving gunned water fowls or ducks in the water and its development had a lot of German influence. In fact, the name itself was derived from the Deutsch word “pfudel” or “pudeln” meaning “to splash” or “puddle.” In France, the Poodle is a renowned duck hunter that goes by the name “caniche.” The coat was traditionally sheared to accommodate swimming because it can get extremely heavy when wet. Overtime, it became a favourite companion of the French social elite and aristocrats and the puffed hair on the knees and tip of the tail that the modern Poodle is known for actually serves an aesthetic purpose today.
It has a tendency to bark excessively and makes an excellent candidate as a watchdog. Highly intelligent and alert, the Poodle is one of the most adaptable and trainable dogs but can become easily bored and will tend to channel its boredom into creative misbehaviour. In general, Poodles are even-tempered and can be quite sensitive at times. The miniature and toy variety tend to be more active than the standard variety.
The Poodle is an obedient, people-oriented breed; very easy to train, eager to please and love being the centre of attention. It will typically entertain its audience by doing tricks. Often, it is seen performing in circuses because of its ability to learn quickly.
Grooming is extensive and requires frequent attention, trimming, bathing and brushing. The coat should be trimmed every four to six weeks. It is not right to believe that Poodles don't shed hair. When the Poodle sheds, the hair does not fall out but sticks to the coat which can cause matt to form if not regularly brushed. Show dogs require more frequent professional grooming. Check the ears for wax build-up and should also be trimmed of hair.
The Poodle is a long-lived breed with an average life expectancy of 10 to 14 years. Some medical predispositions associated with the miniature poodle that owners and would-be owners should be aware of include: cataracts, entropion (eyelid problem), epilepsy, intervertebral disc degeneration, lacrimal duct atresia (deformed or absent tear ducts that causes tears to run down the face), Legg-Calve-Perthes syndrome (a degenerative disease of the hip joint), patellar luxation (slipping knee cap), progressive retinal atrophy or PRA, trichiasis (ingrown eyelashes), and urolithiasis (bladder stone).
The miniature variety requires minimum amount of exercise such as short walks or a session of play in the yard. Being a people-oriented breed means that the Poodle requires plenty of social interaction along with mental and physical stimulation. It will enjoy swimming if it has access to a swimming pool.
It is a playful breed and is very good with children and other pets in the house, but often shy with strangers and can become snappish especially if spoiled.
They enjoy the company of their human family and can be quite demanding of them but will not bond with only one member.