There are many opinions about Poodles’ history. Of the three different sized Poodle, the standard is undoubtedly the oldest because it had a purpose, that of being a water retriever. Back in the days when wild game, especially waterfowl, was valued as meat for the table everyone prized a dog that helped to obtain it. During the Feudalistic Middle Ages the noblemen controlled the land and all the rights to it, including the privilege of hunting. The finest dogs belonged to them, and these were often exchanged as gifts and present with other noblemen in distant lands. At times they were even demanded as ransom as part of military victory, and of course they were often used to gain the ear of a lord or a duke when asking a favour.
The Poodle was undoubtedly held in high esteem, for it appears in the art and writings of so many countries in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Over and over again we meet the Poodle in Germany, France, Russia, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, England, even the Low Countries of Belgium and Holland – from Durer in 1510 to Goya and Landseer, the renowned English animal painter, to Toulouse-Lautrec. Landseer painted his famous “Laying Down the Law”, which is dear to the hearts of all Poodle breeders, for it shows a judicious white Standard Poodle giving a legal lecture to several other breeds of dogs on their transgressions. Toulouse-Lautrec painted the circus Poodle, a black tuft gamin which he knew so well.
It is pretty safe to say poodle has existed in its present form with a few changes since late fifteenth century at which time that poodle breed became identified by its name. Germany, Russia and France have the greatest claim to be recognized as the breed’s origin. Spain might be entitled to an equal share of this recognition. The breed is fairly obviously descended from the spaniel family that has its roots in Spain.
Poodle has developed from what was originally known as “The Water Dog” or “Rough Water Dog”. The word “Poodle” originated from the German “Pudel” or the Russian “Pod-Laika” meaning roughly “Water Splasher”.
The breed was a close relative of the spaniels, with a particular affinity for the water – lakes, rivers, marshes etc. Small Poodles were also used as truffle dogs in England and on the continent hunting out truffles. This was done by the Poodle with a strongly developed scenting ability. The Truffle is a rootless tuberous fungus considered a delicacy by gourmets.
The Poodle’s conformation lends itself to speed and agility in moving through the marshes and waterways and for diving in and swimming through the water. His fine head, with strength of jaw and long neck allowed a game bird to be carried high out of the water whilst swimming with ease. His somewhat light and narrow; yet strong body and strong quarters allow for swimming and running without excessive effort for long periods. The Poodle is a purpose dog developed for a specific job – retrieving from the water.
The lion clip of poodle was developed so that a hunting, retrieving water dog could: (a) withstand the rigours of a European winter in snow, ice and extremes of cold by maintaining a long, dense and strong coat over the forequarters, chest and joints of the legs, (b) swim without the impediment of a long coat on his hindquarters (the part of the body lowest in the water while swimming) by clipping the hair on the body from the ribcage back, and (c) be identified by the hunter whilst retrieving, by means of the topknot secured by a coloured ribbon, to be see above the water or marshes etc.
Poodles have an innate intelligence. His ability to learn is considered exceptional. Poodles are faster than any other breed at discovering that spoken words mean something and they are thought to understand more spoken words. Poodles are an elegant looking breed with a sense of humour. They are loyal, gentle, obedient and good with children.