POODLES IN THE FIELD—REALLY?
by JOYCE CARELLI
J ust about the last breed that you’d think of as a talented field dog would be the “froo-froo” Poodle. But the reality is that Poodles are one of the original versatile field/working dogs. The breed’s history, which dates back about 2,000 years, includes these charming curly dogs being used for everything from retrieving birds shot by arrow (predating firearms); herding flightless ducks into nets for the hunter; locating and retrieving arrows that have missed their mark; locat- ing and digging truffles; and of course find- ing, flushing and retrieving upland game birds as well as traditionally retrieving waterfowl. Once Poodles became fashion- able in Europe, their agility and high level of intelligence and trainability led them to become stars in traveling circuses as well as highly sought companions for nobility and the common man. But what about now? The highly styl- ized coat commonly seen in the show ring has its roots in the field. The continental clip was developed for Poodles working in the field. The hind end was shaved to allow for free swimming, the leg and body joints were covered with hair to keep them warm in cold water conditions, and the body was left rather full to aid in buoy- ing them up while swimming. The curly, dense undercoat keeps water from soaking to the skin while the harsh outer coat pro- vides protection from brambles, sticks and weeds. Very functional when the hair is of moderate length! AKC now allows Standard Poodles to compete in Retriever Hunting Tests. While you won’t see them at Hunt Tests in numbers like the more popular retriever breeds, when you do see them you’ll see both a dog and owner who are commit- ted to preserving the history of the breed while having fun with their best friend. Poodles are not the intense competitors that you see in field-bred retrievers. Most Poodles now competing in the field trace their immediate roots to dogs bred for the
CH Lemerle Silk Tie, CD SH WCX. He earned a MH pass at this year's national hunt test and is used extensively as a personal upland hunting dog. Owned by Lin Gelbman.
“THE POODLE IS NOT A SPECIALIST BREED, BUT AN ALL AROUND GREAT VERSATILE FIELD/WORKING DOG WHO CAN BE TRAINED AND COMPETE IN A VARIETY OF SPORTS.”
show ring. And that’s as it should be. The Poodle is not a specialist breed, but an all around great versatile field/working dog who can be trained and compete in a vari- ety of sports. The great Annie Clark once said that the Poodle will spend the day in the duck blind with you, and while your lab would go home and sleep at your feet in front of the fire, the Poodle would be your
fourth at the bridge table! This perfectly describes the Poodle attitude—a fun, will- ing and intelligent partner at whatever you want to do. The Poodle Club of America is commit- ted to maintaining and rewarding field/ working instincts in all sizes of Poodles. The Working Certificate program is active and well attended at the National show
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ULY 2015 • 275
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