Dog Health & More
Elegant. Proud. Clever. Poodles are impressive dogs, as the many best-in-show winners from this dog breed can attest. Behind the blue ribbons, impressive hairdos, and regal attitude, you'll find an affectionate family dog with an ancient history and many talents.
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Although today's Poodles seem to epitomize a life of leisure and luxury, make no mistake: These are real dogs bred to do real jobs. Although it hardly seems possible when you look at a primped-up Poodle in the show ring, the breed was originally a water retriever, a job that requires jumping in the water to fetch waterfowl for hunters.
In fact, the English name poodle is derived from the German word pudel, or pudelin, which means to splash in the water. And in France, Poodles are called Caniche, a name derived from chien canard, meaning duck dog.
Even the elaborate coat styling that the breed's known for once had a practical purpose: trimmed areas lightened the weight of the dog's coat and wouldn't snag on underwater debris, while long hair around the joints and vital organs protected the dog from the cold water.
There are three sizes of Poodle, all considered part of the same breed: going from smallest to largest, these are the Toy, the Miniature, and the Standard. The Standard is probably the oldest of the three varieties, and some still carry on the Poodle tradition of working as a water retriever.
No matter the size, Poodles are renowned for a playful but dignified personality and keen intelligence. When it comes to training, this is an "A" student, and the Poodle excels at performance sports such as obedience, agility, and hunt tests.
Despite his regal air, the Poodle is no snob. These are people-friendly dogs who want to stay close to their families — they get lonely when left by themselves for long periods — and are always up for a good game.