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 colors. Originally bred as a type of water dog, the poodle is skillful in many dog sports, including agility, obedience, tracking, and even herding. Poodles have taken top honors 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.
A Standard poodle retrieving a gamebird.
The Miniature poodle, which is of intermediate size between Medium and Toy.
A brown standard poodle at five weeks.
A toy poodle at ten weeks.
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.[note 1] 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.
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.
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.
A medium sized poodle in the Scandinavian clip
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.
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 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.
A corded standard poodle
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.
A standard poodle catching
Otherwise notable is this breed's keen sense for instinctual behavior. 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 center 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.
A standard poodle at a baseball game
With proper care and nutrition, many enjoy life well into their teens. The toy poodle pictured above is 16, and with arthritis medication still has an active life.
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.
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