A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE POODLE
The Poodle’s history is shrouded in antiquity and hypothesis. By the 15th century we see dogs that actually resemble the Poodle as we know it, in writings and in art work It is believed by some that the poodle is the original water spaniel. It is known that the Poodle was, and even today, is used as a working hunter and duck retriever. The very stylish hair trim that is distinctive with the Poodle, and seen in conformation, actually has a real function and purpose. The Poodle’s coat protects the dog from water and debris in the water, it buoys the dog, and adds insulation to keep the joints, and the rest of the dog, warm while working. The hindquarters of the dog is shaved so that the dog can swim more easily rather than being weighted down with the equivalent of a diaper and long footed pajamas.
Breed historians are in general agreement that the Poodle had its origins in Germany, with some influence from Russia and then became standardized as a distinct breed in France where it is the national dog. That is why many people today refer to the Poodle with the misnomer of “French” Poodle. In Germany the Poodle (from the German word pudel – meaning “to splash in water”) was a very sturdy dog, that possessed two coat types, curly and corded. The corded type of coat is rarely seen in the United States, but is still in existence. The Russian variety was described as somewhat “greyhound” in body type.
We know that the Standard (sized) Poodle developed first, and that the Miniature and Toy Poodles were developed afterwards, and all three varieties have a long history. It is not known for certain if the Miniature and Toy Poodles are “bred down” versions of the Standard, or if these smaller Poodles developed in their own right. An interesting hypothesis dealing with the history of any breed that predates written history, did the breed develop from a common ancestor, or did the breed develop because dog fanciers from different countries were trying to breed a dog for a particular purpose and function and, independently developed a breed of dog that had similar traits?
In France, Poodles were used for a variety of purposes. There was the Caniche which was a large dog widely used for duck hunting. The Petit Barbet was a Toy size dog that led a pampered and primped style of life in the royal courts. The Truffle dog was used in the search for that flavorful morsel that was used by so many of the French chefs.
A very important event in the history of the Poodle is when the breed was imported from France to Great Britain. The Kennel Club of England registered its first Poodle in 1874, and the Poodle Club of England was founded in 1876. In 1910 the curley and corded dogs were put in separate divisions, as was the Miniature. Prior to this time Poodles of all sizes and coat types were shown in the same classes.
The foundations that were developed in England became the cornerstones of the breed in the United States. Precisely when the Poodle was imported to the United States is not known. The American Kennel Club registered its first Poodle in 1886. The Poodle Club of America was originally founded in 1896. Shortly after its establishment it was disbanded, and then reorganized in 1931. The P.C.A. used the Standard and Rules of the Curley Poodle Club of England as its base for establishing the Standard in the U.S. The same Standard now applies to all three sizes of Poodle, the only difference is in the height measurements for each size.
The Standard and Miniature Poodle are shown in the Non Sporting Group of the A.K.C., and the Toy Poodle is shown in the Toy Group.
The F.C.I. (Federation Cynologique Internationale) recognizes four sizes: the Standard, Miniature, Dwarf and Toy.