Showsight Presents The Poodle

THE POODLE A VERSATILE DOG FOR ALL SEASONS & REASONS by JOYCE CARELLI

T he AKC written standard for the Poodle is the best descrip- tion that I’ve found. “That of a very active, intelligent andele- gant-appearing dog, squarely built, well- proportioned, moving soundly and car- rying himself proudly. Properly clipped in the traditional fashion and carefully groomed, the Poodle has about him an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself.” From the Poodle History Project: “A comprehensive history of the Poodle does not exist. Neither does this exist for the several other varieties of European water spaniel, although evidence in art history indicates that these were a familiar sight as early as the High Middle Ages. Prior to around 1870 our knowledge is sketchy, excepting certain brilliant examples”. So to explore the history of Poodles, we need to look back much further than current written history—back to the pro- to curly-coated dogs that were found on the European/Asian continent. Explor- ing many sources reveals that these dogs served many purposes including duck dogs, arrow retrievers, circus dogs, herd- ing dogs, companion dogs, etc. Poodles through history have been as versatile as their owners! Their very nature, of an active and intelligent breed, allows them to learn quickly, to adapt to various uses and to excel at a myriad of activities. The history of the breed in the last several centuries shows Poodles as the prototype for several curly coated span- iel/retriever breeds. Poodles excel at retrieving, particularly in swampy cover similar to their historic origins in Europe and western Asia, where traditionally swamps were common. Until a vast por- tion of Europe was drained, hunting through swampy land for ducks and other game was a matter of life and death for the

“POODLES EXCEL AT RETRIEVING, PARTICULARLY IN SWAMPY COVER SIMILAR TO THEIR HISTORIC ORIGINS IN EUROPE AND WESTERN ASIA...”

common man. Poodles, with their water- shedding curly coats, webbed and strong feet and tight lips with soft mouths, were the ideal hunting companion. Clipping the coat became the norm to aid the dog in moving through the water and brush and keeping the joints warm on long working days. Bringing this breed into the 21st cen- tury, Poodles are still a very active and intelligent breed used for many purposes. Of course, they are the ultimate show dog! Much to the dismay of many other breeds’ exhibitors, Poodles always seem to be in the Group and Best in Show ribbons, pri- marily due to their ease in training and that distinction and dignity described in their standard. But in addition, they also excel at many other activities. Poodles are fun-loving, people-oriented dogs. Although they may be a bit reserved

with strangers and are very good at sound- ing the alarm at situations they see as unusual, they are not happy when they are not in the company of their “people”. Left alone for extended periods of time, they can become very creative in making up games for their own amusement. Unfor- tunately, most of these games are not fun for the owner and can become destructive. Their behavior reminds me of a bored 3 year old child! Poodle puppies learn quick- ly and are easy to train. House-breaking, walking on a leash, basic obedience train- ing, etc., are easily mastered by a well-bred Poodle puppy with a minimum of effort on the part of the owner. They truly are eager to soak up all the training that is given by their loving owners. The physical make-up of a Poodle makes them particularly suitable for hunt- ing and retrieving activities. Miniature and

272 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ULY 2015

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