The Poodle

Holiday Barn Pet Resorts' guests, Tucker and Vixen

Holiday Barn Pet Resorts’ guests, Miniature poodles, Tucker and Vixen

It was so exciting watching Siba, the standard poodle, being crowned “Best in Show” at the Westminster Dog Show this past month! She is a beauty.  I can’t help but wonder what lies beneath all that hair.   A standard poodle looks so poised and dignified, it’s hard to think of them as being “a dog”.  I mean, wouldn’t you love to know what happened when Siba got home? Did she go for a romp-n-roll in the yard?  Or did she sprawl her royal self on the bed and wait to be attended to. It was reported she had a grilled chicken sandwich and then went on to prepare for a day of TV shows and various other appearances.  How in the world would you keep a dog like that so immaculate looking for more than a few hours?  I have learned that there is much more than meets the eye with these amazing dogs.  You too may be surprised what lies beneath all that gorgeous hair.

Poodles are such versatile dogs.  They are just at home in a dog show as they are in the field.  Deciding on a poodle would solve the family dilemma of deciding on what kind of dog to get:  Wife wants a stylish frou-frou dog that can enjoy a day at the spa as much as she does.  Husband wants a smart, rugged hunting dog.  Kids want a dog that will play with them for hours on end.   What do you get?  A standard poodle!  That’s one the whole family can agree on!

It’s all about the hair 

When I think of a poodle, I envision a well-groomed dog with a stylish clip, which absolutely has to have the signature pom-pom tail.   I also see a sort-of prissiness – and I don’t mean that in a negative way.  I think of a dog that is elegant, “polished”, maybe a little “stand-off-ish”.  Kind of crazy, right?  I mean, it’s a dog!  My perspective may come from seeing poodles come and go after years of working at the Holiday Barn Pet Resorts Spa, but I think that it’s a common stereotype.

The haircut is a huge distinguishing factor for these beautiful dogs.  Surprisingly, the poodle clips did not come about in order to make the dog more fashionable – that came later when the breed became popular in France.   Originally the poodle clip was to help the dog float better in water, and/or to protect his “private parts” from cold water.  And why, you ask, is water a factor in determining this refined dog’s haircut?  Because it’s a water dog.  Surprise!  The name “poodle” was derived from the german word “pudel”, which means “puddle” as in water puddle.  These exquisite bed ornaments are actually gun dogs, bred for duck and bird hunting.  Poodles have webbed feet and a moisture resistance coat.  They’re great swimmers and very athletic.

“That dog won’t hunt” 

Did you ever watch “Duck Dynasty”?   Do you remember the episode when Uncle Si took a poodle duck hunting and all of his hunting buddies laughed at him?  If I remember correctly, his poodle did a better job than all the other hunter’s dogs in the show.  It just looks so funny to have this beautifully coiffed dog hanging out in a duck blind, wetlands, or whatever!

BTW, the beautiful apricot poodle used in Duck Dynasty is named Cooper, although his character’s name was “Killer”.  Cooper is the first (and only) poodle to hold all three of the top Hunt Test Titles in the AKC, UKC and NAHR.  Cooper is a proud papa to a beautiful daughter named Grace.  She’s a show dog AND a gun dog!  See what I mean by versatile?

Most hunters these days use pointers and retrievers rather than poodles.  I’m not sure why that is.  Maybe those breeds are considered more “masculine”?  Or maybe it’s because a Labrador retriever’s hair is much easier to clean up for than a curly-coated poodle after going after ducks in the water and mud, right?  I think the real reason may be that it’s hard to find a poodle that is trained to hunt.  One that has lived the quintessential pampered life probably wouldn’t make the best hunter. It may be possible, but it would take a good amount of training to reawaken the dog’s hunting instincts.

Smarter than the average bear 

Another surprising fact I have learned is that the poodle is ranked second – just behind the border collie – as the most intelligent breed of dog.  If you have ever worked with a poodle, you can tell that they are smart, but I’ve always been in awe of a border collie’s savvy.  Poodles are highly alert, easy to train and eager to please their owners.  It’s no wonder, then, that they are adaptable and resourceful when wearing so many hats.  You want to go duck hunting?  I’m there!  You want to go get your nails done?  I’m there!  You want to play chase in the yard?  Let’s do it!  Or how about we just cuddle on the couch?  Okay by me!

How do the miniature and toy poodles fair in comparison to the standard? 

Supposedly, the adorable miniature and toy poodles were bred to the same standards of the Standard poodle.  Size aside, there is very little difference in temperament, intelligence and personality between a standard, miniature, and a toy poodle, although some say that the standard is more “conservative” than their “mini-me’s”.  Standard poodles weigh around 50 – 70 pounds.  A miniature weighs around 15 – 20 pounds, and a toy poodle weighs around 5 – 10 pounds.  A standard poodle is a member of the AKC Sporting group.  The Miniature is a member of the AKC Companion group. And the toy, of course, the toy group.

If there is a downsize to owning a poodle, it would be their grooming requirements.  It’s a lot of work.  They’re not big shedding dogs, but skipping the daily brushing is not an option.  We recommend our poodle clients at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts come at least once a month in order to keep their coat in its best condition.

Doodles? 

Today we have a ton of breeds crossed with poodles:  The Golden Doodle – poodle crossed with a Golden Retriever; the Labradoodle – crossed with a Labrador Retriever; the Bernadoodle – crossed with a Bernise Mountain Dog… The list goes on and on! From what we know about the breed, it’s no wonder that so many other breeds want to cross with the poodle.

The first “intentional” crossing of breeds with a poodle was by a man that wanted to create a hypoallergenic seeing-eye dog in the late ‘80’s.  He felt the poodle’s non-shedding coat would be perfect for that task.  Ironically, he did not believe that the standard poodle’s temperament would make for a good guide dog in itself.  He thought the poodle didn’t have the right temperament for a guide dog. Isn’t that strange?   Now-days, Poodles are known for being great working dogs, and many would argue that they are excellent guide and service dogs.

Oh, let’s not forget the “poo’s”:  The Cockapoo – Cocker Spaniel, poodle mix;  the Maltipoo – Maltese, poodle mix; the Peek-a-poo, Pekingese, poodle mix, and my favorite – the Bossi-poo – Boston Terrier and Miniature Poodle mix (I like the name).  There are so many more!

If everybody wants their dogs to be poodles, why not just get a poodle?!?

Last but not least… 

A poodle makes an excellent companion dog.  They’re loving, generally nice to strangers, cuddly, and love to entertain!  Because of their intelligence, they pay close attention to their owners and adapt well to many different lifestyles. They are protective, but non-aggressive. And they come in three sizes to fit everyone’s needs!

If you are interested in owning a poodle, please check first with Poodle Rescue groups.  These amazing animals are so deserving of wonderful, loving homes.

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If your dogs ever need a place to stay that will treat them as well as a winning Poodle show dog, reach out to us at either Holiday Barn’s Glen Allen or Midlothian location.

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