Originally, the Poodle was developed to be a retriever of water fowl. While many people think the dog came from France, it was actually developed in Germany and brought to France later. The dog was utilized to retrieve ducks primarily. The long curly coat protected it from cold water. The early grooming styles provided protection for the skin and left longer fur around joints and critical body areas to keep the dog warm, while allowing the animal to move freely in the water and brush. The breed comes in small (toy, 10 inches tall and 6 to 9 pounds), medium (miniature, 11 to 15 inches tall and 15 to 17 pounds), and large (standard, 15 to 22 inches tall and 45 to 70 pounds) sizes. Because of the Poodle’s intelligence, desire to please people, and athletic abilities, the breed was popular with Gypsies and travel troupe. These groups discovered the fur could be trimmed and dyed in almost any imaginable shape or design. When these groups performed for royalty, the dog became popular as a companion dog because of the desire to please the well to do ladies of the time. This partially led to the development of the smaller strains for the breed that exist today. Today, Poodles are used as companions, pets, agility dogs, hunting dogs, and show dogs.
Poodles are intelligent dogs that like people of all types and sizes, including children. Because of these traits, the dog is a good choice for a first time dog owner. They do not like to be left alone though, so plan on having a companion when you are home. Leaving a Poodle alone for long periods may result in the dog finding a way to entertain and occupy time in very creative ways. This may result in injury to the dog or to your belongings. Poodles are easily trained and most authorities recommend that the dog have training to keep it mentally occupied. There is danger there, however, if the training is not followed up on consistently, the dog may decide that it is the owner and not you! These dogs are clever and will remember if someone does not make it behave or if it can manipulate you. They also get along well with other pets and dogs and like to play games. Games help to keep the dog exercised and to keep it mentally challenged.
Grooming a Poodle can be a major undertaking, depending on the type of cut. Show cuts usually require professional groomers or an owner experienced in grooming. Owners wanting to invest the time and effort can learn to groom a Poodle, just realize this will require time, practice and some patience to learn the skill. This cut requires nearly constant upkeep and attention to maintain. Most show dogs visit the groomer every 3 to 6 weeks at a minimum. Regardless of the cut, the coat must be brushed every couple day to keep it from matting. A rough estimate has been to plan on spending about 10 hours per week on coat care. Poodles shed and so the shed fur is caught up in the curls of the coat and can lead to matting if not removed. Additionally, dirt and debris trapped in the coat must be removed on a regular basis. As with other breeds, check the ears for redness or smell. The coat can trap wax and debris in the ears and cause problems for the Poodle. If you live around water, be prepared for your Poodle to swim a lot. They enjoy the water and actually are one of the few breeds with webbed feet. They are avid swimmers!