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Poodle

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The Poodle is a breed of dog. The Standard Poodle is regarded as the second most intelligent breed of dog after the Border Collie, and before the German Shepherd Dog. The poodle breed is found officially in toy, miniature, and standard sizes, with many coat colours.

Originally bred as a type of water dog, the poodle is skilful in many dog sports, including agility, obedience, tracking, and even herding. Poodles have taken top honours in many conformation shows, including "Best in Show" at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1991 and 2002, and at the World Dog Show in 2007 and 2010.

 

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History

Poodles are retrievers or gun dogs, and can still be seen in that role. The poodle is believed to have originated in Germany, where it is known as the Pudel. The English word "poodle" comes from the Low German pudel or puddeln, meaning to splash in the water. The breed was standardized in France, where it was commonly used as a water retriever.

The American Kennel Club states that the large, or Standard, Poodle is the oldest of the three varieties and that the dog gained special fame as a water worker. So widely was it used as retriever that it was bred with a moisture-resistant coat to further facilitate progress in swimming.

All of the Poodle's ancestors were acknowledged to be good swimmers, although one member of the family, the truffle dog (which may have been of Toy or Miniature size), it is said, never went near the water. Truffle hunting was widely practiced in England, and later in Spain and Germany, where the edible fungus has always been considered a delicacy.

For scenting and digging up the fungus, the smaller dogs were favored, since they did less damage to the truffles with their feet than the larger kinds. So it is rumored that a terrier was crossed with the Poodle to produce the ideal truffle hunter.

Despite the standard poodle's claim to greater age than the other varieties, there is some evidence to show that the smaller types developed only a short time after the breed assumed the general type by which it is recognized today. The smallest, or Toy variety, was developed in England in the 18th century, when the Havanese became popular there. This was a sleeve dog attributed to the West Indies from whence it traveled to Spain and then to England.

The continent had known the poodle long before it came to England. Drawings by the German artist, Albrecht Durer, establish the breed in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was the principal pet dog of the later 18th century in Spain, as shown by the paintings of the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. France had toy poodles as pampered favorites during the reign of Louis XVI at about the same period.

Characteristics

Appearance

Most poodles have a curly, non-shedding coat that requires regular grooming. Since poodles do not have the plush double coat of many breeds, their fur is often referred to as "hair", a term usually reserved for humans. Most poodles are solid-colored, and many registries allow only solid colors in conformation shows.

Poodles come in a wide variety of solid colors including white, black, blue, gray, silver, brown, cafe-au-lait, apricot, red and cream. "Parti" (short for parti-colored) poodles have large patches of colors different from the main body color. "Phantom" poodles have tan points, a pattern similar to that of a Doberman Pinscher or Rottweiler.

Poodle sizes

Unlike most breeds, poodles can come in a variety of sizes, distinguished by adult shoulder (withers) height. The exact height cutoffs among the varieties vary slightly from country to country. Non-Fédération Cynologique Internationale kennel clubs generally recognize three sizes, standard, miniature, and toy, sometimes as sizes of the same breed, and sometimes as separate breeds. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale recognizes four sizes of one breed, standard, medium, miniature, and toy.

Only the Fédération Cynologique Internationale describes a maximum size for standard poodles. France is the country responsible for the breed in the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, and in this country the puppies of all sizes are listed together. The terms royal standard, teacup, and tiny teacup are marketing names, and are not recognized by any major kennel club.

Comparison of poodle sizes defined by major kennel clubs
Size The Kennel Club (UK) Australian National Kennel Council New Zealand Kennel Club Canadian Kennel Club American Kennel Club United Kennel Club Fédération Cynologique Internationale
Standard, Grande over 38 cm (15 ins) 38 cm (15 ins) and over 38 cm (15 ins) and over over 15 inches (38 cm) over 15 inches (38 cm) over 15 inches (38 cm) over 45 cm to 60 cm (+2 cm) (18ins to 24ins)
Medium, Moyen not used not used not used not used not used not used over 35 cm to 45 cm (14ins to 18ins)
Miniature - Dwarf, Nain 28 cm to 38 cm (11ins to 15ins) 28 cm to under 38 cm (11ins to 15ins) 28 cm to under 38 cm (11ins to 15ins) over 10ins to under 15ins (25.4 cm to 38 cm) over 10ins to 15ins (25.4 cm to 38 cm) over 10ins up to 15ins (25.4 cm to 38 cm) over 28 cm to 35 cm (11ins to 14ins)
Toy under 28 cm (11 ins) under 28 cm (11 ins) under 28 cm (11 ins) under 10ins (25.4 cm) under 10ins (25.4 cm) under 10ins (25.4 cm) 24 cm to 28 cm (9.4ins to 11ins)

All the Fédération Cynologique Internationale poodles are in Group 9 Companion and Toy, Section 2 Poodle. All the Kennel Club poodles are in the Utility Group. All three sizes of poodle for the Australian National Kennel Council and the New Zealand Kennel Club are in the Non-Sporting Group. The Canadian Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club place standard and miniature sizes in the Non-Sporting Group, and the toy size in the Toy Group. The United Kennel Club places the miniature and toy in the Companion Group and the standard poodle in the Gundog Group.

Coat

Unlike most dogs which have double coats, poodles have a single layer (no undercoat) of dense, curly fur that sheds minimally. They could be considered hypoallergenic (though not completely allergen free). Note that the poodle does shed, but instead of the fur coming off of the dog, it becomes tangled in the surrounding hair.

This can lead to matting without proper care. Texture ranges from coarse and woolly to soft and wavy. Poodle show clips require many hours of brushing and care per week, about 10 hours/week for a standard poodle. Poodles are usually clipped down as soon as their show career is over and put into a lower-maintenance cut. Pet clips are much less elaborate than show and require much less maintenance.

A pet owner can anticipate grooming a poodle every six to eight weeks. Although professional grooming is often costly, poodles are easy to groom at home with the proper equipment.

Show clips

Many breed registries allow only certain clips for poodles shown in conformation. In American Kennel Club shows, adults must be shown in the "Continental" or "English saddle" clips. Dogs under 12 months old may be shown with a "puppy clip." The American Kennel Club allows the Sporting Clip in Stud Dog and Brood Bitch classes as well.

Some sources believe the show clips evolved from working clips, which originally provided warmth to major joints when the dogs were immersed in cold water. The rest of the body is shaved for less drag in the water. Others express skepticism at this theory, instead citing the French circus as the origin of the entertaining and unique clips.

Second Puppy

This clip is also called the Scandinavian clip or puppy clip. It was invented by Swedish and Norwegian show groomers in the 1970s. This clip is the most common one in all sizes for shows in Europe, and is allowed for adult poodles to be shown in the FCI countries. The face, throat, belly, feet and the base of the tail are shaved 5 to 7 days before the show to get a nice smooth appearance of the shaved areas.

The hair on the head is left to form a "topknot" that is fixed in place using latex bands; this is because in most European countries, hair spray is banned. The rest of the dog is shaped with scissors. It makes the parts of the dog look fluffy.

Continental clip

In the continental clip the face, throat, feet and part of the tail are shaved. The upper half of the front legs is shaved, leaving "fluffy pompons" around the ankles. The hindquarters are shaved except for pompons on the lower leg (from the hock to the base of the foot) and optional round areas (sometimes called "rosettes") over the hips. The continental clip is the most popular show clip today.

English Saddle clip

The English saddle clip is similar to the continental, except for the hindquarters. The hindquarters are not shaved except a small curved area on each flank (just behind the body), the feet, and bands just below the stifle (knee) and above the hock, leaving three pompoms. This clip is now rarely seen in standard poodles.

Pet clips

Pet clips can be as simple or as elaborate as owners wish. The hair under the tail should always be kept short to keep feces from matting in the poodle's curls. Most owners also keep the feet and face clipped short to prevent dirt from matting between toes and food from matting around the dog's muzzle.

Beyond these sanitary requirements, desired clips depend on owners' preferences. Some owners maintain a longer clip in winter than summer, which they groom often with a wire slicker brush to remove tangles and prevent matting.

Corded coat

In most cases, whether a poodle is in a pet or show clip, hair is completely brushed out. Poodle hair can also be "corded" with rope-like mats similar to those of a Komondor or human dreadlocks. Though once as common as the curly poodle, corded poodles are now rare.

Corded coats are difficult to keep clean and take a long time to dry after washing. Any poodle with a normal coat can be corded when their adult coat is in. Corded poodles may be shown in all major kennel club shows.

Temperament

Otherwise notable is this breed's keen sense for instinctual behaviour. In particular, marking and hunting drives are more readily observable than in most other breeds. Even Toys will point birds.

Classified as highly energetic, poodles can also get bored fairly easily and have been known to get creative about finding mischief. Poodles like to be in the centre of things and are easily trained to do astonishing tricks involving both brains and agility. They have performed in circuses for centuries, beginning in Europe, and have been part of the Ringling Circus in its various forms from its inception.

The Grimaldis, the famous British clowns Kenneth and Audrey Austin, "developed a stronger circus act" with a clever poodle named 'Twinkle,' the success of which allowed them to continue performing even as octogenarians."

Poodles are extremely people-oriented dogs and generally eager to please. Standard poodles in particular tend to be good with children. Poodles are adaptable and easy to train, but sometimes their intelligence can make them obstinate and stubborn. Like most dogs, they appreciate daily exercise, such as a walk or a play session. Most are fairly agile and athletic.

Toy poodles will play ball and love to fetch. Play time is vital, but one must be sure that they get plenty of rest following long play periods and that fresh water is available at all times.

Poodles are very easy to housebreak. Whether going outside or being trained on a pad, they learn quickly where to defecate. They are still animals, however, and they need time to understand what is desired of them. It may take a while, but poodles are quite smart and learn more quickly than most dogs.

Health

The most common serious health issues of standard poodles (listed in order of the number of reported cases in the Poodle Health Registry (as of August 20, 2007) are Addison's disease, gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV = bloat/torsion), thyroid issues (hyperthyroid and hypothyroid), tracheal collapse, epilepsy, sebaceous adenitis, juvenile renal disease, hip dysplasia, and cancer.

Standard poodles are also susceptible to some health issues usually too minor to report to the poodle health registry. The most common of these minor issues are probably ear infections. Ear infections are a problem in all poodle varieties. Ear problems can be minimized by proper ear care. A veterinarian should be consulted if the dog shows signs of an ear infection.

Addison's Disease

Addison's disease is (as of August 20, 2007) the illness most commonly reported to the Poodle Health Registry. The number of reported cases of Addison's disease is nearly twice as high as the next most common problem (GDV). Addison's disease is characterized by insufficient production of glucocorticoid and/or mineralocortoid in the adrenal cortex (by the kidneys).

Addison's is often undiagnosed because early symptoms are vague and easily mistaken for other conditions. Standard poodles with unexplained lethargy, frequent gastric disturbances, or an inability to tolerate stress should be tested for Addison's. Addison's can cause fatal sodium/potassium imbalances, but, if caught early and treated with lifelong medication, most dogs can live a relatively normal life.

Gastric dilatation volvulus

Standard poodle owners should take special note of the high incidence of GDV in this breed. Excess gas trapped in the dog's stomach causes "bloat." Twisting of the stomach (volvulus or "torsion") causes or is caused by excess gas. Symptoms include restlessness, inability to get comfortable, pacing, or retching without being able to bring up anything.

The dog's abdomen may be visibly swollen, but dogs can bloat or torsion without visible swelling. GDV is a dire emergency condition. If you suspect a dog is bloating, you should not wait to see if he improves. A dog with GDV requires immediate veterinary care.

The dog's survival usually depends on whether the owner can get him to the vet in time. It is a good idea for a standard poodle owner to know the route to the nearest 24-hour emergency clinic, so time is not wasted looking for directions.

Longevity and causes of death

Standard poodles in UK, Denmark and USA/Canada surveys had a median lifespan of 11.5 to 12 years. In a UK survey, the most common causes of death were cancer (30%), old age (18%), GDV (bloat/torsion, 6%), and cardiac disease (5%).

Miniature and toy poodles in UK surveys had median life spans of 14 to 14.5 years. In miniature poodles, the leading cause of death was old age (39%). In toy poodles, the leading causes of death were old age (25%) and kidney failure (20%).

Some toy poodles can live up to 20 years, if they have a healthy life and are not overweight.

Common illnesses

  • Addison's disease (hypoadrenocorticism)
  • Cataracts
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Chronic active hepatitis
  • Cushing's syndrome (hyperadrenocorticism)
  • Distichiasis
  • Entropion
  • Epilepsy
  • Gastric dilatation volvulus (Standard)
  • Gastric torsion
  • Glaucoma
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration
  • Lacrimal duct atresia
  • Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Patellar luxation (Toy and Miniature)
  • Trichiasis
  • Urolithiasis.
  • Hip dysplasia (Standard)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Mitral valve disease
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Sebaceous adenitis
  • Von Willebrand disease

Poodle mixes

Poodles are crossed with other breeds for various reasons, and the resulting puppies (called designer dogs) are described by whimsical portmanteau words, such as cockapoo or spoodle (Cocker Spaniel cross), goldendoodle, labradoodle (Labrador cross), pekepoos (Pekingese cross), and many others.

A cross between a shedding breed and a poodle (which does not shed much) does not reliably produce a non-shedding dog. Traits of puppies from crossbreedings are not as predictable as those from purebred poodle breedings, and the crosses may shed or have unexpected or undesirable qualities from the parent breeds.

Poodle crossbreds (also called hybrids) are not recognized by any major breed registry, as crossbreeds are not one breed of dog, but two. If both parents are registered purebreds but of different breeds, it is still not possible to register a puppy as two different breeds.

Some minor registries and Internet registry businesses will register dogs as any breed the owner chooses with minimal or no documentation; some even allow the breeder or owner to make up a new "breed name" (portmanteau word).

Hypoallergenic qualities

Poodles are often cited as a hypoallergenic dog breed. The poodle's individual hair follicles have an active growth period that is longer than that of many other breeds of dogs; combined with the tightly curled coat, which slows the loss of dander and dead hair by trapping it in the curls, an individual poodle may release less dander and hair into the environment.

In addition, most poodles are frequently brushed and bathed to keep them looking their best; this not only removes hair and dander but also controls the other potent allergen, saliva.

Although hair, dander, and saliva can be minimized, they are still present and can stick to "clothes and the carpets and furnishings in your home"; inhaling them, or being licked by the dog, can trigger a reaction in a sensitive person. A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter can help clear dander floating in the air.

The word hypoallergenic, when referring to a dog, is also a misconception; all dogs shed. Poodles shed hair in minimal amounts, and also release dander, but are not as likely to trigger allergies as much as many other breeds.

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