Poodles descend from the ‘curly water dog’ landrace that evolved alongside the people of Europe. Poodle, which means something like ‘splashes in water’ comes from the same German root as puddle and poodles were the branch of the family found in the Germanic regions. Other related breeds in this group include the Spanish and Portuguese water dogs, the Irish Water Spaniel, the now sadly extinct English Water Spaniel, the Barbet of France, and the Lagotto Romagnolo from Italy.
Standard Poodles are the original wetland hunting dog. Miniature poodles were developed later for hunting truffles, and Toy Poodles were developed still later as lap dogs, which were historically popular as it was believed at the time (and probably quite correctly!) that having a warm little companion to sit on your lap and stroke after meals was soothing to the digestive system.
Many poodles still retain their water-loving instincts, although this has been lost from some of the modern show lines. If you do have a very water-oriented poodle, it’s important to be careful of where you allow your dog to swim, as stagnant water can harbour pathogens and fast-moving rivers and bodies of water used by water craft are hazardous.
The most recognisable trait of the breed is its dense curly coat. The coat does not have to be high maintenance, but does have specific grooming requirements and techniques necessary for its proper maintenance. Poodles don’t shed large amounts of hair, so time spent grooming your poodle is time saved that would otherwise be spent with the vacuum cleaner!
Poodles remain at heart working dogs who can take as much exercise as you can give them. Psychologist Stanley Coren ranked them as the second most intelligent breed after extensively studying different breeds in obedience training environments. Poodles need mental stimulation and training to thrive and live as well-adjusted companions.
The normal height for standard poodles is 20-25 inches and poodle coats can be any solid colour. While 'white spotting' patterns from the ancestors of the curly water dogs and 'wild type' agouti colourings can sometimes occur naturally in poodles, it is important to be aware that these are mismarks and not correct colours, and breeders who care about the breed will not promote them as being 'rare' nor charge more for a mismarked puppy than for one of a solid colour.
Kennel Club Breed Standard
Well balanced, elegant looking with very proud carriage.
Distinguished by a special type of clip for show activity and by a type of coat which does not moult.
Gay-spirited and good-tempered.
Head and Skull
Long and fine with slight peak. Skull not broad, moderate stop. Foreface strong, well chiselled, not falling away under eyes; cheek bones and muscle flat. Lips tight-fitting. Chin well defined but not protruding. Head in proportion to size of dog.
Almond-shaped, dark, not set too close together, full of fire and intelligence. Eye colour see Colour Clause.
Leathers long and wide, set low, hanging close to face.
Jaws strong with perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. A full set of 42 teeth is desirable.
Well proportioned, of good length and strong to admit of the head being carried high and with dignity. Skin fitting tightly at the throat.
Well laid back shoulders, strong and muscular. Legs set straight from shoulders, well muscled.
Chest deep and moderately wide. Ribs well sprung and rounded. Back short, strong, slightly hollowed; loins broad and muscular.
Thighs well developed and muscular; well bent stifles, hocks well let down; hindlegs turning neither in nor out.
Tight, proportionately small, oval in shape, turning neither in nor out, toes arched, pads thick and hard, well cushioned. Pasterns strong.
Previously customarily docked.Docked: set on rather high, carried at slight angle away from the body, never curled or carried over back, thick at root.Undocked: Thick at root, set on rather high, carried away from the body and as straight as possible.
Sound, free and light movement essential with plenty of drive.
Very profuse and dense of good harsh texture. All short hair close, thick and curly. All traditional trims permissible in the show ring and the dogs judged on equal merit, as long as there is sufficient length to demonstrate colour and quality of coat.
All solid colours. White and creams to have black nose, lips and eye rims, black toenails desirable. Browns to have dark amber eyes, dark liver nose, lips, eye rims and toenails. Apricots and reds to have dark eyes with black points or deep amber eyes with liver points. Blacks, silvers and blues to have black nose, lips, eye rims and toenails. Creams, apricots, reds, browns, silvers and blues may show varying shades of the same colour up to 18 months. Clear colours preferred. Non solid colours are highly undesirable and should be heavily penalised.
Poodles (Standard): over 38 cms (15 ins).
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
Breed Standard © The Kennel Club. Reproduced with permisson.