Poodles are descended from herding dogs. (See initial paragraphs of "Gordon's Poodle Visuals", and Rosa Engler, Pudel (Cham, Switzerland: 1995), English-language crib.)
Several branches of the proto-Poodle family--several ancestor/cousins-- are categorized as herding dogs and used for herding to this day: see Show dogs (conformation exhibition), "cousins." See also Engler, p. 15: here's a photograph of Cora, descendant of the Westerwald (area) sheep Poodles, a working dog of the 1990s whose job is to guard flocks of sheep. Cora is shown in her summer clip; in winter, her fur twists itself into a corded-type coat. For a brief description of Poodles/proto-Poodles used as herding dogs, see Ernest H. Hart, The Poodle Handbook (Neptune City: TFH: 1966), p. 16.
Herding techniques vary. For an interesting introduction, see David Outerbridge, photographs by Julie Thayer, The Last Shepherds (NY: Viking, 1979). Four essays/photo essays: Yves Hébrard, berger, St.-Hippolyte-du-Fort (Languedoc, France) and the transhumance (and his dog is Poodle-reminiscent, pp. 39, 42, 44, 45); Duncan McDonald, crofter, Mallaigvaig (Scotland); Giuseppe Nesti, pastore, Pistoia (Italy); Miltiades Xsilouris, voskos, Anoyia (Greece). A fifth type of herding, "tending," is practiced in Germany: large herds of sheep are moved from field to field.
NB: "Medieval dog graves [on the outskirts of Ely, Cambridgeshire; in the as-yet-undrained Fens, a geographical signal for possible water-dog, i.e. proto-Poodle, activity] a sign of owners' caring," by Matt Wells, The Globe and Mail (Canada), Saturday, 6 November 1999, reprinted from The Guardian (England): "Roddy Reagan, joint director [with Richard Mortimer] of the dig, said: '....My guess is that they would have been working dogs used as sheepdogs or for herding.'" For more information, see Cambridge Archaeological Unit project summaries as of November, 1999.
Canada: The Canadian Kennel Club sponsors a series of herding tests unrestricted to breeds. The unofficial introduction to herding is a Herding Instinct Test, a testing of raw herding talent. No training is required and during the past several years it has been the means of creating awareness among Poodle Club of Canada members of their Poodles' ability to herd. The Poodle Club of Canada sponsored its first Herding Instinct Test in August, 2007 and are holding a second in September 2008.
Herding Tested is the entry-level Canadian Kennel Club Herding title-- approximately equivalent to a retriever Working Certificate or Obedience Companion Dog title--and the first Poodle to hold this in Canada is OTCh, U-CD JO WHIRLWINDS ISLAND ROOK, WC, HT, RN, RNMCL; (B) PC917895, STANDARD, BLACK, 02/02/04; (CH, U-CD, HRC SHR Tudorose Roman Emperor, WC, JH, CDX, AGN, RAMCL x CH, MOTCH Napoli Oneacmepoodlekit): HT (Herding Tested), Bearded Collie Club of Canada, July 3, 2007; call name: Rook; Breeder: Patricia Rose (PEI); Owner: Cheryl Ingwersen (Ontario). The headpiece of this section is a photograph of Rook with her owner/handler performing at a Herding Tested trial (photo by Michele Geldart).
To achieve the Herding Tested title, a dog must receive a pass in two tests under two different judges. To pass the Herding Tested level, a dog must:
Other herding titles offered by the Canadian Kennel Club include Herding Tended and Stock Dog titles and Herding Champions, all with different requirements and degrees of difficulty. The title that Rook will try for next is Herding Started which requires more precision and control of the dog and the stock: removing stock from a pen; taking stock through various obstacles in a field; the dog must settle the stock, pick them up again and re-pen the stock.
If you are interested in herding with your Poodle, and wish to obtain a Canadian Kennel Club herding test rule book, please write to The Canadian Kennel Club, 200 Ronson Drive, Suite 400, Etobicoke, ON M9W 5Z9, Canada.
United States: "At this time, Poodles in the U.S. can only compete in AHBA [American Herding Breed Association] tests and trials. AKC [American Kennel Club] allows only herding dogs and a few dogs from the working group whose parent clubs presented information to document their historic herding background to enter their tests. Standard Poodles instead are considered retrievers and allowed to run in AKC Hunt Tests (but not [retriever] Field Trials). At one time ASCA [Australian Shepherd Club of America] allowed Poodles to enter, but they no longer do. There are a number of Poodles who have earned AHBA titles however, and they do not discriminate. Their tests and trials are a good fit for the Poodle's style which is similar to that of the Continental herding (farm) dogs, rather than the Border Collie tests. Specific information on the American Herding Breed Association's tests is available on their website." (CP, 26/09/08)
The Poodle illustrating this United States section is CT* Tudorose Bold Reign VCD3**, RE, JH, WCX, HTADs1, VIP VCX, CGC owned by Carol A. Pernicka (Colorado) and bred by Jacqueline Harbour (Oregon).
**RE Reigner's VCD3 title: "Versatile Companion Dog Title. The AKC will issue a Versatile Companion Dog certificate and will permit the use of the letters VCD following the name of each dog that completes the titles as follows:
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