The Standard Poodle has been found throughout Europe for at least the last 400 years. Its origin is a bit controversial, but is thought to have originated in Germany and was bred as a water retrieval hunting dog. The English word Poodle seems to come from the German word pudel or pudelin, meaning "to splash in the water." Some Poodles are still used as hunting dogs and show a strong retrieval drive and eagerness to please. Some believe that it descended from a now nearly extinct French water dog called the Barbet and possibly a Hungarian Water Hound. The Poodle was used in both Germany and France as a gun dog and a retriever of water fowl. It is believed that the traditional Poodle haircut came out of this use. Owners cut their dogs' hair in tufts around the joints to keep them warm in cold water.
Because of their high intelligence and trainability the French began to use them as circus performers. Their high popularity in France lead to the poodle to be called the French Poodle although the French themselves call it Caniche or "Duck Dog." The Poodle has also been called the Truffle Dog and was used search out truffle mushrooms in the woods. In modern times the Poodle remains a popular pet and these dogs have also been used as service dogs, leader dogs for the blind, therapy dogs, and participate in all of the available dog sports. Their varied history is a statement of how trainable and versatile the Poodle really is.
The Standard Poodle is an intelligent, loyal, adaptable dog, has a happy, playful personality, and is often described as having great sense of humor. This can be tricky for owners new to the breed because frequently owners find themselves laughing at their Poodles naughty antics and the dog will actually take that laughter as praise for the behavior. As an extremely intelligent and highly trainable dog, Poodles need to be mentally stimulated and taught positive behaviors or they will teach themselves, and owners may not like what they learn. Many Poodle owners talk about dogs who know how to upon the refrigerator or even unzip a purse and remove dog treats. However, since Poodles are eager learners new owners will not find this a difficult energy to channel.
The Standard Poodle is very territorial making them excellent watch dogs, alerting you of danger with a loud strong bark, but the Standard Poodle should not be a yappy dog, and should generally have a very even temperament. As a very adaptable dog, the Poodle is willing to lie at your feet while you watch TV, but will also be ready to go for a hike with you at the drop of a hat. They should have daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy; a 30-60 minute walk daily is preferred. They should have a bouncy, proud carriage, even a prance in their walk. Poodles are great with kids and other dogs and the more socialization they receive as puppies the more outgoing and comfortable they will be as adults. Poodles are one of the few breeds that seem to recognize other members of their own breed. The way that these dogs play is more bouncy and very different from other dogs so when two Poodles get a chance to play together they get very excited.
Because of the hunting history Poodles tend to have a strong prey drive which often manifests in a desire to chase all of the squirrels in the neighborhood. They can be acclimated to small pets such as cats in the home. It is advisable that you take all precautions when introducing a cat to your Poodle so that no one gets hurt and a positive precedent is set. The best thing is to raise the dog with a cat. Poodles can be taught to accept small animals as part of the pack and will even protect them as part of the family. Unlike some dogs, Poodles are able to bond with the entire family rather than just one individual. They are people pleasers and will love to be at your side all day long.
Poodles are prone to many of the same Health Problems as other large breeds such as hip dysplasia, and Ear infections. Some eye issues, such as cataracts, can also be found in the breed. Some lines may also carry or exhibit von Willebrands Disease, Addisons Disease, skin issues, and Epilepsy.
It is important to make sure that your breeder has the puppy's parents OFA certified and that they are aware of any genetic problems with the dogs they own and those they have breed.
The non-shedding quality of the Poodle's coat means that it does require rather extensive grooming. It is best to brush your Poodle's coat every week to keep mats from forming, and after any outdoor adventures to remove any burs or twigs from the coat. These sessions can be very pleasant and a nice chance to bond with your dog and check him or her over for any cuts or abnormalities. Begin grooming your dog as soon as you adopt him or her in order to ensure that grooming does not become a feared or unpleasant experience. During these sessions you should also trim your dog's nails and brush his or her teeth. Have your vet or groomer show you the best way to do this. Being able to do it at home will save you around $10 per nail trim, $10-$15 per tooth brushing and will also allow you to keep up on your dog's health maintenance more easily. If you allow your dog's nails to grow they can cause pain and damage to your dog's feet. If they make a clicking sound on bare floors, his or her nails are too long.
Not brushing your dog's teeth not only causes bad breath but if left for years will cause plaque build-up that must be removed by your vet. This can be a several hundred dollar procedure and as in humans dental problems can lead to health problems including heart disease.
About every 4-6 weeks your dog will need to be taken to a groomer to have its coat cleaned and trimmed. New owners should be prepared to pay between $35 and $50 or more per grooming session. The price is determined by the size of the dog and the condition of the coat when it is brought in, as well as the area you live in. An ambitious owner could try to learn to groom their dog themselves, but it can be rather involved and hard to master.
The style is entirely up to you. For confirmation there are only a few acceptable styles, but for a pet, the possibilities are limitless. Traditionally the feet, base of tail, and face are all shaved down to the skin. Shorter cuts will be easier to maintain as they require less brushing and you can allow more time to pass between grooms, but may not be as appealing as a longer haired look. There is also a style called corded which creates a very unique look. It is rather like "dreadlocks" on people, but can be difficult to maintain.
They should have a daily walk to burn off their excess energy and keep them calm and manageable in the house. A daily 30 minute to hour long walk daily should be enough, a session of fetch in the yard or park will also help.
The Standard Poodle is highly intelligent and very trainable dog. It is highly recommended that you start taking your new Poodle puppy to training classes right away. There are Puppy kindergarten classes available to dogs as young as 8 weeks old. Getting started with training right away will ensure that you are able to teach your dogs the necessary skills to fit into your lifestyle happily and will also provide your pup the mental stimulation so important to this breed. As the saying goes in dog training, "you can't teach nothing," even if you are unaware of what you are teaching you dog it is certain he or she is learning something from you. Take this in hand right away and don't let your dog learn bad behaviors. By actively choosing what you teach your Poodle you will avoid circumstances where your dog learns destructive behaviors before you even realize it. There are too many rejected dogs cast into shelters and rescues for reasons that might have been avoided. You will find training to be easy and rewarding with a Poodle by your side. Talk to your local Kennel Club or Humane Society to find out what groups in your area offer dog training classes.