1st edition 1995
Copyright Mueller Rueschlikon
Series: Dog Breeds / Editor: Urs Ochsenbein
Origins, Raising, Training, Care
From shepherd to hunter to companion 14
The sheep Poodle 14
The southern Russian Ovcharka 15
The Barbet 16
The Portuguese Water Dog 18
The Spanish Water Dog 19
The Lagotto Romagnolo 20
How long have there been Poodles and where did the name come from? 22
Compliments to the historic Poodle dog 24
The Poodle as circus star 25
The corded Poodle 27
Two corded relatives: 28
The Komondor 28
and the Puli 30
The standard 31
The ideal Poodle 31
The Poodle makes a breakthrough 35
The recognized colors 35
The fight about "reds" 39
The parti-colored Poodle 40
On the trail of a midget 42
The four FCI standard sizes compared to the English sizes 44
Why do we have oversize toys and undersize medium Poodles? 45
Which size is right for whom? 48
The Breeder's responsibilities 50
Should I breed my female pet? 50
Should I offer my male pet at stud? 51
Why these long pedigrees? 52
What does "overbred" mean? 52
Dog breeding is more than a hobby 53
A puppy grows up 54
Love at first sight 57
The purchase of a Poodle must be carefully thought out 57
Are Poodles good with children? 57
How can I find a good breeder? 60
What a future Poodle owner wants to know 61
Which puppy to choose? 61
A Poodle puppy comes home 61
Walking on a leash 63
House training 63
From puppy to adult Poodle 63
Good health into old age 65
When to go to the vet 66
The old Poodle 68
Basic training (by Urs Ochsenbein) 71
The Poodle as a pleasant travelling companion 78
The performance Poodle 80
Unusual Poodle personalities 80
Poodle racing 81
The Poodle as guide dog 83
The drug-sniffing Poodle 83
The Poodlepointer 87
The Poodle in the service of research 89
Caring for a Poodle 91
Why do we have to comb a Poodle? 91
When should a Poodle be bathed? 91
Special measures in summer and winter 94
Clipping nails, plucking ear hair, and brushing teeth 95
As you like it: Clips with and without a beard/mustache 96
The development of the Poodle clip 97
Conformation competition 105
The exhibitor's dilemma 108
Prominent friends of the Poodle 114
Stories and anecdotes 116
Closing the circle 116
Useful addresses 118
Picture credits 120
In memory of Filou, who exactly 30 years ago sparked my interest in these woolly creatures and who, with his vivacious personality, brought me joy for 18 years.
Page 8: The four-legged clown. Poodles love to be the center of attention. Their acrobatic abilities and creativity make them very entertaining companions.
9 top: No Prejudices. Dogs have a better perspective than most people. They don't care about haircuts.
9 middle: Wet as a Poodle. As former water retrievers, Poodles are still great water lovers.
9 bottom: The majestic large dog and the adorable small one. This appealing picture doesn't show the large amount of work involved in creating such a stable friendship between dogs. Multiple dogs need more supervision than a single dog. It's not a good idea to ease your conscience by getting a second dog to keep the dog you already have company while you're out.
10 top left: A compliment to the Poodle's build. The Poodle's light and well-proportioned build makes it a very athletic dog.
10 top right: Happy as a Poodle. Poodles are sensitive and wear their hearts on their sleeves, especially when they're happy. It's tough to fool a poodle. They always know when something's wrong in their family.
10 bottom: The Acrobat. Poodles love training.
11 top: The "Intelligent" Poodle. This ten-year-old girl "Poupette" loves to show off her tricks. She can read numbers and do arithmetic and has even been on TV. It is anthropomorphic to describe a dog as intelligent. A dog's experiences as a puppy are what make it sensitive and receptive.
11 bottom: The Joy of living. These Miniature Poodles don't let their show coats slow them down at all.
12 top: The Beauty Queen. This bitch's elaborate show clip hasn't stopped her from being a good mother. Although the public is often put off by show Poodles' extravagant hairdos, the claim that these clips constitute abuse is completely unfounded.
12 bottom: The adaptable dog. Poodles can get along well with other pets, especially if introduced to them at puppies. However, just because your poodle gets along with your cat, doesn't mean that it won't chase other cats.
13 top left: Exercise gives balance. Energetic dogs like Poodles must have adequate physical and mental exercise in order to be well-adjusted happy pets. They also need enough quiet rest.
13 top right: The Royal Poodle. This term has spread as far as Russia and it's no surprise since a well groomed and self-possessed Large Poodle does make a noble impression.
13 bottom: A distinctive dog. Corded poodles are rare today. This French dog, Jules, won the title "Champion of France" with his corded coat. In contrast to the turn-of-the-century practice of keeping cords as long as possible, Jules' cords are kept at a sensible length and don't bother him at all.
14 (complete translation): Johann Wolfgang von Goethe could have met this Poodle in person. The woodcut is from 1818 and today decorates Volume 1 of the DPK [German Poodle Club] studbook.
15 (complete translation): One often reads that the old German sheep poodle has died out. However, Kurt Stahl of Arborn, Germany, a breeder of shepherd dogs, was able to find and photograph a descendant of the Westerwald [area] sheep poodle. This is the bitch Cora (by Prinz out of Bella). Cora is purely a working dog whose job is to guard flocks of sheep. Here she is in after the summer moult. In the winter, her fur twists itself into a corded type coat.
16 (complete translation): Imposing Tjarko is one of the few Swiss-bred South Russian Ovcharka. His breeder is Marijke Heidenrijk of Siegershausen.
17 (complete translation): Here we see the two Barbet varieties which are officially recognized as ancestors of our poodles. On the left is the wavy-coated Hercule di Barbochos Reinau de Prouvenco, whelped on June 24, 1992, and bred by the Petre family in Tarascon. He is owned by Inge Fischer and Rainer T. Georgii in Belabre, France. Among other achievements, he has passed the VBBFL's pointer/setter test. On the right is the curly-coated bitch Poppenspaeler's Poil Armagnac, owned by her breeders, Inge Fischer and Rainer T. Georgii.
18 (complete translation): The 1994 world youth champion Portugese Water Dog Hombre von Winikon training for his water retriever test. Bred and owned by Corinne Kaufmann of Winikon Switzerland.
19 (complete translation): Cutwater's The Divine Miss M (12 weeks) and her older sister Ch. Cutwater's Bonaventure (whelped 1986) look a lot like poodle puppies. They are multi-talented. In addition to their conformation titles, they also have obedience, agility, and water retriever test titles. The breeder of these two Portugese Water Dogs is Jane Harding and they are co-owned by their breeder and Melinda Miller.
20 (complete translation): This nicely-marked, shaggy haired Spanish Water Dog is seven months old. Her registered name is Escribania de Ubrigue and her call name is Rasta. She was bred by Antonio Garcia Perez of Cadiz, Spain and is owned by Inge Fischer of Belabre France, who has already shown her successfully. This bitch is now a double champion as well as a national and European champion.
21 top left (complete translation): The Lagotto Romagnolo has been recognized by the FCI since March 1995. This picture of a well-trained truffle dog was kindly provided by Giovanni Morsiani of Bagnara di Romagna, the president of the Italian Lagotto Club.
21 bottom right (complete translation): This Lagotto bitch, Fida, is owned by Inge Fischer of Belabre, France.
23 (complete translation): We know of pictures dating back as far as the 16th century which show parti-colored, curly-coated dogs hunting waterfowl. It might be assuming a bit too much to call these dogs Poodles. It is tempting to do so, however, because the descriptions of these dogs given by the experts of those times would fit our splendid dogs so well.
25 top: "Dancing Dog", painted in 1636 by Dutch artist Jan Steen. No modern breed looks more like this dog than the Poodle.
25 bottom: Munito, the Canine Genius. Munito was most famous from 1814 to 1818. He performed in London and Paris. Bred in Mailand and trained and exhibited by a Dutchman, his work was described by E. de Tarade in "Education of the Dog" (1866). His trainer gave signals with tiny clicks of his fingernails. [Early "clicker" training?]
26: Performing poodles are still around today.
27 top: Around the turn of the century, exaggerated corded coats such as these were popular.
27 bottom: This modern corded bitch was shown in England around 1980. According to the modern standard, the cords must be at least 20 cm long.
28: Jules the Happy Corded Poodle. This dog was part of an ordinary black Large Poodle litter. After Jules passed a test to prove his suitability for breeding, his owner--who had always wanted a corded Poodle--stopped combing and brushing him. Six months later, the desired cords began to form. From then on, coat care consisted of separating the individual cords to allow the skin to breathe. This dog won the title "Champion of France" in his corded coat. When Jules turned 10, his owner cut off the cords, which weighed 3 kg, to free him from their weight. In retrospect she is sorry she did since his coat care now takes much more time. Jules reminds us very much of the two Hungarian herding dogs, the Komondor and the Puli.
29 (complete translation): This well-cared-for Komondor was photographed by Sally Anne Thompson.
30: This white Puli had a terrible fear of hair dryers. His owner always had to plan his bath during fair weather to avoid having him running around damp for days. She always kept his cords trimmed to a sensible length so he could move freely, although she was penalized for this in the breed ring.
32 top: Debutante in show clip. Proud carriage, lush coat.
32 bottom: Head study of Debutante. Dark almond eyes, fine elegant head. Correct earset and ears. Also, although not visible, her chin, bite, pigmentation of lips and gums, and back skull.
33 top: Debutante as a veteran. Nicely proportioned, ideal stance, nice rear angulation, perfect tail carriage, good length of neck, proud head carriage, elegant body, nice short, stable back.
33 bottom: This 28 cm Dwarf Poodle's head is also a fairly good example of the Standard.
34 top: A well-set undocked tail has always been allowed by the Standard. Tail-docking will soon be prohibited in Switzerland. It is already proscribed in the Scandinavian countries.
34 bottom: Duc, a world-renowned Swiss dog of German ancestry. Caption describes the show career of Multi-Champion Nunsoe Duc de la Terrace of Blackeen in Switzerland, England, France, and the US.
36: Three stately white poodles.
37 left: A deep black.
37 right: A silver-grey.
38: Four rare brown Large Poodles from Edelgard Mechsner's "vom grossen Wannsee" kennel in Berlin.
39 top left: An apricot Medium (or Small) Poodle
39 bottom right: This six-month-old puppy dog shows the influence of the red stud Ch. Solnes Burnt Fire. Like his grandsire Ch. Eugenios Per Solnes Everywhere, he will fade to apricot when he is two or three years old.
40 (complete translation): Ulinka von der Gartenlaube, owned by Edeltraud Djahedi of Munich, shows the desirable pattern. White is predominant and clearly delineated from the black. The head is black, although a fine white line from the base of the nose to the first cervical vertebra or a white fleck on the crown is allowed. The same is true of the beard. The ideal pattern on the body is two or three large black spots. If there are two, they are side by side--either over the withers and shoulders or over the loins and hindquarters. If there are three spots, they should be more or less evenly distributed from the base of the neck over the back to the tail. A completely black back is allowed, but not desirable. Color ratio: preferably 60% white, 40% black.
41 top: Here we see a 3 week old harlequin, Bobby vom Hammer Silberberg, bred by K. and D. Lesinski. Breeders of this variety hope that the French have not yet had the last word on the subject.
41 bottom: A rarity in Germany--harlequin Large Poodles. This should lay to rest the argument of critics who assert that this color variety could only have been created by mixing with fox terriers or parti-colored spaniels and that harlequins therefore cannot be recognized as Poodles.
42: The black-and-tan color. Black is predominant. Tan markings should be symmetrical and blend smoothly into the black. Color ratio: preferably 80% black, 20% tan.
43 top: The Toys are Coming... In spite of their diminutive size, these are real dogs and should be treated that way.
43 bottom: An old style Toy with large round eyes and short muzzle.
44 top: Toys take well to training too.
44 bottom: Red champion bitch Eugenios Ruby Tuesday from Norway sired by the famous Toy, Solnes Just Like an Orange. Two of her littermates are also champions.
45 box at upper left (complete translation):
Large Poodle: over 45 cm and up to 60 cm with 2 cm more allowed as "grace."
Medium or Small Poodle: more than 35 cm and up to 45 cm.
Dwarf Poodle: more than 28 cm and up to 35 cm.
Toy Poodle: less than 28 cm.
46: The four FCI sizes. The difference between sizes is more noticeable when one compares weights. The Large is 59 cm and weighs 20 kg. The Medium is 39 cm and weighs 7.5 kg. The Dwarf measures 31 cm and tips the scales at 4.5 kg, while the little Toy bitch weighs only about 3 kg.
47 bottom left: A basket full of Large puppies from the Masuren kennel
47 top right: The three English sizes. Toys are less than 28 cm. Miniatures have a top height of 38 cm. Anything larger is a Standard. In the USA Toys have a height limit of 25 cm.
48 top right: The joys of motherhood. This bitch has already had a successful show career. An English Miniature, in Germany she would be a small Medium bitch.
48 bottom left: Rosa Engler's Dwarf dog, Filou, with his son, Rocky. Filou was always one of the fastest in a poodle race. He enjoyed excellent health to the ripe old age of 18.
49: Two silver-grey Toys and a Pomeranian.
50: Pet bitches can live a fulfilling life without becoming mothers.
51: (complete translation) Photo: Sally Anne Thompson
53: Sire and dam with one of their offspring.
54: An animal's fate lies in human hands.
55: Six well-nourished Medium Poodle puppies.
57: Twelve-week-old silver Dwarf Poodle dog.
58: Diega and her friend Stephanie at a show in Berne.
59 bottom left: Even a small child can safely play with this puppy since, at seven months, her sharp milk teeth have been replaced by larger permanent teeth which are less likely to scratch.
59 top right: Puppies who are raised with children and learn to trust them will retain this attitude as adults.
60: This Large Poodle bitch, Diega of Beautyflake, enjoys participating in all the kindergarten activities.
61: A healthy puppy that's old enough to leave its mother shows a cautious curiosity about everything new.
62: Aischa vom Edelholz in her new home. Does she miss her brothers and sisters? Luckily, her new owner spends plenty of time with her.
64: The black Dwarf Poodle bitch, Cami, was always a passionate mouser.
66: The way to a dog's heart is through his stomach. This poodle is a gourmet. She prefers home-cooked meals.
67: If your Poodle begs, it's your own fault. [Tips on how to prevent the development of begging behavior during family meals.]
68: Next please...
69: At eleven, this Dwarf Poodle bitch still feels young.
76 top: Come. The owner has left without a word...
77 top left: ...and stands about 20 - 30 meters away. Now she slowly counts to 20, then calls the dog, loud and clear, but only once.
77 top right: The dog runs with interest to the calm and motionless owner.
76 bottom: When he's close enough, he is brought into the finish position just as in the "Walk, stop, sit" exercise.
77 bottom left: One pauses again for at least two seconds...
77 bottom right: ...before praising the dog, who may not get up. If the dog remains sitting, the exercise is finished.
78 top: Irina aus dem Schneckenhaus is doing the right thing. Dogs should always ride in the back seat and should never get out of the car until called. [Warning about leaving dogs in parked cars.]
78 bottom: If you like to go to the beach, remember that your poodle always needs a shady spot.
79: These three athletic mountain climbers are enjoying their vacation in the mountains. They are in top condition and undertake four-and-five hour hikes effortlessly.
80: Ch King Leo of Piperscroft CDX, whelped April 3, 1930, was one of the first to win obedience titles in addition to his conformation titles. He easily tooks six firsts in obedience. He was a brown Standard Poodle, who had some German ancestry.
81 top: The "Best Shepherd" was a Poodle. Julchen vom Bergalmschlossle was honored with the title "Best Shepherd" when she won the challenge cup for the third time. The German Shepherd Dog Club had to give her mistress their club's Dog Trainer Award. Who would have thought it? Certainly not the members of the GSD club who at first tolerated Julchen's presence with a pitying smile when she showed up at their training grounds wanting to participate. Not long ago, a brown Dwarf Poodle bitch passed the Schutzhund Test in Switzerland. She took third place, surrounded by German Shepherd Dogs.
81 bottom: So-called "one-man dogs" have the best chance of winning in the races, since nothing distracts them from reaching their owners as fast as possible.
82 top: Beautiful and capable. This black Medium Poodle bitch has won 15 conformation titles, 48 CACIB wins and 31 BOBs. This is an unusual accomplishment, especially since she was always shown in the popular fashion clip, which is generally a hard clip to win with. Jasmin has also passed the companion dog test and the tracking test. Her crowning achievement was beating a German Shepherd and a Doberman to win the 1988 Austrian Utility Dog Cup.
82 bottom: Show dogs love agility too.
83 top: Some Dwarf Poodles are big agility fans. "Froufrou" took third place last year in the Swiss Small Dog Agility Championship.
83 bottom: Swiss master Balou in action.
84 top, middle, and bottom right: Here we see the well-trained apricot Poodle, Icare, concentrating on his work. Trainer Patrick Mandrier is very impressed with the Poodle's likeable, affectionate, playful and alert personality and stresses that these qualities are very useful in training. [Top left: This photo of guide dog and handler is explained in the text.]
85: Cobold is a big star and his breeder's pride and joy. He was the first poodle in Germany to pass the Red Cross search and rescue dog test. [Details about S&R training.] He also recently starred in a made-for-TV movie, even though the description of the role specified "no poodles, please." He got the role anyway-- with the stipulation that he should not be clipped--and earned 200 Deutschmarks per day.
86 bottom left (complete translation): Almost all poodles are excellent swimmers, as shown here by the silver-grey Large Poodle bitch, Ch. Bibelot's Tin Lizzie CD. She was bred by Susan Fraser of Ontario, Canada. All of this breeder's poodles have not only been shown successfully in conformation, but have also earned working titles. A number of Canadian Poodles have been trained as retrievers.
86 right (complete translation): This young silver-grey Standard Poodle, Bibelot's Silver Power Play, has just passed the hunting dog test. His breeder is Susan Fraser, and he is owned by Eileen Jaskowski. In Canada it has long been common for Standard Poodles to be working dogs.
87 top and bottom: Pointer bitch Mette was bred to brown poodle Beelzebub vom Wutachtal and had a litter of six lively puppies. To get real Poodlepointers, these puppies had to be bred back to pointers. The puppies had very good coats but variable hunting abilities. The most gifted were bred to maintain this prized hunting breed.
88 top: Mette and Beelzebub's litter.
88 bottom: A wonderfully muscled Poodlepointer bitch retrieving.
90: A second generation Poodle-wolf cross
93: Freshly bathed puppies with clipped faces and feet.
94 top: The error. Many people believe they're doing their Poodle a favor by shaving it in the summer, but actually this deprives the dog of important protection from the sun. If you want your dog to feel cooler, try clipping the hair on its legs slightly shorter, but always leave at least one centimeter on the back.
94 bottom: The Poodle in winter. Most Poodles prefer cool weather. Unless a Poodle is quite old or has its coat clipped very short, sweaters and jackets are not normally necessary. It is important to keep the hair clipped from between the pads to prevent painfull ice balls from forming there. Avoid salted sidewalks and streets if possible or rub your poodles feet with vaseline before going out. Otherwise, the salt water stings.
96 left and right: Which of these Poodles would you choose? Perhaps the bearded fuzzball appeals to you. Breeders and exhibitors would probably prefer the elegant trim head. The joke is that they're the same dog! It's so easy to have your poodle's appearance suit your taste.
97 top: It's important for Poodles to get used to scissors and clippers at an early age. They can't have their vision impaired by hair falling over their eyes, so trips to the groomer are obligatory.
97 bottom: These three silver-grey Standard Poodles from Canada (bred by Susan R. Fraser) clearly demonstrate how easy it is to give your poodle a different look. Poodles don't care what kind of hairdo they have and will strive to please no matter how they look.
98 top left: This Poodle is in the old standard clip with a large shaped cap. This lion clip isn't seen much anymore.
98 top right: Here we see the typical "Peggy Head" variant of the Karakul clip.
98 bottom: Tying up the hair of the topknot originally had a practical purpose. It served to keep strands of wet hair from obscuring the vision of working water retrievers.
99 top left: Here is a contrast to the large topknot. This black Large Poodle has his head hair clipped back.
99 top right (complete translation): Poodle groomers in Paris about 1820.
99 bottom: Half-sib corded descendants of Jumbo, who was exported from Russia to England.
100 top: For a long time, the lion (or standard) clip was the only one allowed in the show ring.
100 bottom: As early as the '30s, there were a lot more pet than show Poodles, and the so-called Dutch Clip became popular.
101 top left: The result of a long fight for acceptance of a more moderate and practical clip, Hans Thum's creation, the Karakul Clip.
101 bottom left: A Poodle family from the '50s with father and mother in the new Karakul clip.
101 right: The well-known Poodle groomer Margrith Gasser softened the Karakul clip with her "Peggy Head" and added a pompom to the tail.
102 left: The Fashion Clip was officially recognized by the FCI and described in detail in 1966. The most important change was to get rid of the mustache and beard, allowing judges a better view of the face. This clip helped to popularize the Poodle, and in the '60s its popularity reached new heights.
102 right: The Scandinavian-style Puppy Clip with its accentuation of rear angulation.
103 top left: Correct execution of the English Saddle Clip, which, for decades, was the only clip allowed in English show rings.
103 top right (complete translation: Champion Wycliffe Martin, who gave his owners, John and Elisabeth Campbell in Bonita [California], USA, 10 champions, shows what's under all the different clips--an elegant and well-built dog. His short hair style is called a Retriever Clip.
103 bottom: This American clip is reminiscent of the old lion clip. Audiences may find the naked back legs off-putting, but American judges love it. This nicely built Poodle would look good in any clip.
104: White Large Poodle International Champion, German Champion, World Winner Heidi von Masuren. Bred and owned by Susanne Leschinsky of Schleswig.
105: The Medium Poodle Garibaldi von der Magdenau shows his charm in the ring.
106 left: This champion bitch is waiting eagerly for her turn in the ring and keeping a sharp eye on her handler. Even in a beauty contest, dog and handler become a team.
106 top right: You have to be athletic to show a Large Poodle to best advantage.
106 bottom right: This Danish breeder has refreshed her lines with some American blood.
107: An English Poodle Beauty. Comments about grooming and a warning not to let your poodle get matted.
108 left: Poodles can stand correctly on their own. This young bitch has already been shown successfully in the puppy class.
108 right: This is the same brown Dwarf Poodle bitch that is pictured as a puppy at the very beginning of the book. Here, she's winning her World champion title in Tel Aviv.
109 bottom left: Professional handler Susanne Mendera with Best in Show winner Dorian Gray's Hullabaloo. It is unusual for a silver to go BIS.
109 top right: This dog did a lot of winning. Now he's twelve years old and still a friendly, happy fellow.
110 top left: A successful junior handler
110 bottom right: An English champion in puppy clip. For a long time, this clip was only allowed in puppy classes in England. Scandinavian breeders lobbied successfully for its acceptance.
111: Multiple Best in Show-winning Large Poodle Dog.
112: A brown Toy champion ready for the judge. It takes a lot of training to get to this point, especially since modern judges are accustomed to being able to handle dogs without any trouble. It makes a bad impression if your Poodle is trembling with terror as the judge checks teeth.
113: If you think that training for the ring is a terrible burden, then you don't know Poodles. This Cruft's BIS winner hasn't lost any of his love of water.
114: Thomas Mann with his Poodle, Niko, 1952.
115: Arthur Schopenhauer with his beloved Poodle, drawn by cartoonist Wilhelm Busch.
117: This work of art, entitled "Child with Poodles" by German artist Katharina Fritsch, is exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Basel.
[Excerpt starts on page 14 and ends in the middle of the second column, p. 16:]
If one reveals the secret of the Poodle's great love of water, we come
to the Water Dog. On the other hand, if we trace back the Poodle's
typical circling when running free in an open field, we come to the
ancient shepherd dogs, who kept herds together in this way. These two
characteristics of the Poodle were noted in Goethe's Faust:
"Faust: See how he runs around us in a wide spiral, coming ever closer?
Wagner: The beast is crazy as a Poodle. If you stand still, he waits for you. Speak to him, he rushes up to you. Lose something, he'll bring it, or jump into the water after your cane."
On the trail of the Poodle's roots, we come to the following breeds.
The Sheep Poodle
Ludwig Beckmann (author of the 1895 book Dog Breeds) was convinced that the Poodle is closely related to the herding breeds. In the chapter "Poodles and Herding Dogs," he mentions that shepherds often led white dogs on leashes. These dogs were freed only to chase away wolves. These dogs were supposedly called sheepdogs or, if they had very shaggy coats, "Schafbudel" [sheep boodle].
As early as the middle of the sixteenth century, Conrad Gessner described the "sheep dog" as strong, bold, brave, powerfully built, with a fearsome bark and with a white coat similar to that of the sheep.
The light-colored coat was purposely selected for in breeding. This camouflage color was intended to make it harder for wolves to recognize the dog in the herd. At the same time, it also eliminated any danger of the shepherd mistaking the dog for a wolf. The best known were the Hessian and the Badian (Odenwald) Sheep Poodles along with the Westfalian ones from Muensterland. According to A. Graefin vom Hagen (author of the 1935 book Dog Breeds), we know that the herd-guarding dogs from the area around Hannover show the influence of the Polish Sheep Poodle's blood. While the the agile, light-colored, and light- footed Sheep Poodle was busy guarding sheep, the farm was guarded by the heavyset, shaggy coated black guard dog. Its dark color helped it to surprise thieves in the night.
In the Dog Lover's Dictionary (written by Heinrich Zimmermann in 1933), the Sheep Poodle is described as follows: "Sheep Poodle--one of three indigenous herding breeds. A medium-sized, squarely built dog, not too long when viewed from the side, with remarkably shaggy hair. The calm gaze of its dark brown eyes is attractive. The ears are set widely on the head and of good length. Its shaggy hair has a rich undercoat, and even the tail is coated all the way to the tip." The Sheep Poodle, which one can still find in old books as something halfway between a Puli and a Komondor, seems to have practically died out today.
[Remainder of pg. 15, first part pg. 16:]
Assigned by the FCI to Group 2 along with the Pinschers, Schnauzers, and Swiss Mountain Dogs, this long-haired white guard dog reaches a height of 76 - 86 cm at the shoulder. A minimum height of 64 cm is required. Nowadays, this dog is always shown with its coat combed out, although the original Southern Russian Ovcharka is said to have had a corded coat. This dog's origins can be traced back to nomads, who are thought to have brought the breed into the Ukraine and Hungary, where it is also thought to have been involved in the development of the Komondor. It weighs 50 - 70 kg. Recently, a Swiss couple was able, with greatest difficulty, to obtain some of these white giants from Russia. (At the time, official exports were still forbidden.) The first litter was entered in the Swiss stud book in 1973. The breeder was Ms. I. Stuppan. These experimental breedings resulted in dogs which differed from ours in their half-wild behavior. These excellent watch dogs were very hard to place because they required a loving but firm hand. These giants were not suitable for inexperienced dog owners. In addition, they need a very large amount of space because guarding a large area is in their blood. It was not easy to raise this Russian guard dog to be an enjoyable family dog. In Russia, they were also bred by the Red Army, where their aggressive tendencies were developed to make a vicious guard dog. As a vigilant shepherd dog, the breed's true purpose, however, was to protect sheep from wolves. Its stately size and thick wooly coat were very useful for this purpose.
Ekaterina Stepanowa succeeded in tracing a connection from the Southern Russian Ovcharka to the Poodle. From a group of canine experts, she was able to ascertain the following. According to various accounts, large, long-haired black and brown Poodle-type dogs are supposed to have appeared in Russia during the time of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1583). Some of them are said to have shown a white spot on the chest. Foreigners are reported to have called these dogs "Barbets." The Russians, accordingly, called them "Barbosses." There are some sources, however, which go much further back, and it cannot be ruled out that those Russian "Barbosses" were among the ancestors of the Hungarian shepherd dog which came into the Dniepr region (modern Ukraine) with their masters when this area was opened up. This goes back to the 9th century. However, this theory is hard to prove. Schneider-Leyer (Dogs of the World, 1960) guesses that these dogs could have originally been connected to Spanish shepherd dogs, which came to Russia along with herds of Merino sheep. He traces the origins of the Southern Russian Ovcharka back to a cross between these guard dogs (Barbosses) and Tatar shepherd dogs and Steppes Borzois.
It is documented that around the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, large Poodles were already widespread in Moscow. At this time, there was not yet a Russian Poodle standard. Ovcharka crosses were also accepted. At that time, there were also supposedly Large Poodles which were similar to the Hungarian shepherd dogs. Black and white Harlequin Large Poodles were also no rarity. Primarily the upper classes kept these "Royal Poodles." In 1947, 24 Large Poodles with pedigrees were exhibited at a Russian dog show. The other poodle sizes were at this time as yet unknown in Russia. Not until 1966 was an official Russian Poodle standard adopted. The other Poodle sizes have only been known in Russia since the sixties. Today, thanks to imports from other European countries, all colors and sizes of Poodles are bred in Russia. The quality of these Poodles is entirely comparable to that of ours.
[Remainder of pg. 16, pg. 17:]
Some canine experts, Strebel for example, view the Barbet as a transitional form in the development from the shaggy Asian Sheepdog to the Poodle. While Beckmann connects both the Barbet and the Poodle to the long and shaggy-coated Steppes Dog, C. von Heppe (1752) sees both breeds as Hungarian water dogs. Irrefutable sources concerning the origin of the Barbet can no longer be found. Therefore, France is generally accepted as its native land, since Barbets appeared there as early as the 14th century.
It is interesting to know that such dogs, going by the name "Barboss" were already known in Russia in the 9th century. In England, the breed was mentioned as "old Rough Waterdog" in the 16th century.
A few years ago, this French breed was close to dying out. Scarcely 200 individuals could still be found. In 1970, not a single litter was registered. The breed was saved at the last minute. Since 1980, litter registrations have been increasing, and in 1989, 62 puppies were registered. Unfortunately, the club split over the decision about size for the breed standard. Inge Fischer and Rainer Georgii, two dedicated friends of the original Barbet strain, regret deeply that these French efforts to save the breed are not being more carefully supervised. It seems to them that the breed is being "saved to death" through attempts to increase interest in the breed by crossing in Large Poodles. The Poodle blood won't detract from the Barbet's happy nature, but unfortunately the breed is losing its pointing abilities due to these crosses. There is reported to be only one breeder left in France who continues to breed Barbets in their original form.
The Barbet stands 45 - 56 cm at the shoulder and weighs 15 - 25 kg. Its coat may be wavy or curly and colored black, chestnut, fawn, or grey (with or without white markings), or white. The tail is undocked.
[Page 18 to pg. 19, col. 2:]
Some people think the Portuguese Water Dog is an ancestor of the Barbet and others support the opposite theory. But one thing is clear: the Cão de Agua is an ancient breed.
The breed has existed in Portugal for centuries. Similar water dogs are said to have been known to the Romans as "Canis piscator" even before the time of Christ, and the descriptive name "Canis leo" indicates that even before the Age of Caesar Augustus, the hair on these water dogs' rear quarters was clipped off. Pictures showing these "lion dogs" are also known. It is not impossible that these dogs were brought by the Phoenicians to Rome, from where they spread to Portugal, but it is difficult to prove such things nowadays.
Many believe that the PWD was brought directly to the Iberian peninsula by the Moors. Algarve fishermen soon found this dog to be a capable and indispensable helper. Its good swimming skills allowed it to be used for communication between ship and land. These dogs helped fishermen lay out their nets in the water, and they dived in deep water to retrieve fallen objects. In thick fog, the PWD's barking in the bow of the ship is said to have prevented collisions. This was an amazing accomplishment because PWDs are not generally very "barky." In the evenings, the dog's job was to guard its master's catch and boat. All these jobs have been made unnecessary by advances in technology, but the PWD can still demonstrate its talents in Water Tests. Swimming endurance and water retrieves of a floating and a sinking object are some of the skills that are tested against the clock. The manner of jumping into the water and of retrieving are also evaluated. The PWD has retained easy trainability and love of water and of retrieving, and this dog--like all dogs who love to be the center of attention--has made the transition to its new role as family pet without any trouble. Like all other water dogs, PWDs enjoy agility training.
The PWD is described in its standard as a dog of medium size. The males should stand 50 - 57 cm at the shoulder and the females should be 43 - 52 cm. They should weigh between 16 and 25 kg. The PWD is very well muscled thanks to its love of swimming. Its thick coat must be shown in the traditional water dog lion clip with hind quarters shaved (no pompons). Like the Barbet, the PWD has two coat types; either fairly long and wavy, with a fine sheen, or somewhat shorter with rough, thick, compact curls--not shiny.
The PWD comes in black or brown, with or without white markings (which may cover no more than one third of the body), or all white. White dogs must be well pigmented. The tail is undocked. If the tail is very short or missing, the dog may not be shown. The PWD carries its tail curved proudly over its back, in a manner not desirable for poodles.
The PWD's temperament, like that of the poodle, is described as alert, playful, and affectionate.
[Pg. 19, col. 2 to pg. 20, col. 2:]
The Perro de Agua Espanol is a working dog that is equally happy helping the fisherman or herding sheep. Concerning the origins of the breed, one can read that it was brought into Spain on Turkish ships around the end of the 18th century. Its old name, el Turco Andaluz, reminds us of this. Its coat, which cords easily, is reminiscent of the Puli. The Perro is described as extremely willing to learn but accustomed, like all water dogs, to independent work. Therefore, it can't be trained using the methods we are accustomed to apply to other working dogs. One accomplishes nothing through force with this breed, but it can do amazing things to please its master when working of its own free will. One must provide these dogs with plenty of opportunities to discover and to develop their abilities. Like all highly intelligent dogs, they must be kept busy, since they may even refuse to work if they are bored. The Perro likes to be in close contact with its human and naturally prefers to live in the house. It reacts to strangers with alert watchfulness but not with aggression. Lately, the Perro de Agua has been trained in Schutzhund and in Agility in Spain. This is a robust breed, since up to the present only those individuals who have proven themselves to be good daily workers have been chosen for breeding.
This breed has only recently been recognized by the FCI. Since these dogs often come in contact with thorny hedges in the course of their herding work, the tail is docked as a precautionary measure. The assertion that water dogs have no undercoat is not true in this case. Its coat, which tends to cord, protects it from scratches. Shedding is avoided since any loose hairs remain stuck in the "Rasta-curls." Like the Puli, the Komondor, and the corded Poodle, this dog is neither brushed nor combed, since long firm cords should form. These must be cleanly separated from each other all the way to the skin. If this wealth of hair gets to be too much, these dogs can be shorn like sheep. For the show ring, a working clip which frees the face and feet of bothersome hair is also allowed.
The standard sets the maximum hight for bitches at 45 cm and for dogs at 50 cm. Weight can vary from 12 to 16 kg for bitches and from 16 to 20 kg for dogs. The following colors are allowed; solid white, black, or brown, two-tone brown and white or black and white. Tri-colors are not desired.
If the Perro's tail were not docked, it would remind one strongly of the ancient German sheep Poodle. This observation supports the theory that all the water dogs can be traced back to the old herding dogs.
[Pg. 20, col. 2 to pg. 22, col. 1:]
At the FCI meeting of March 10, 1995, the curly haired Italian water dog was officially recognized as a separate breed with the name Lagotto Romagnolo. Similar curly haired dogs are found in Italian paintings as far back as the 15th century. Like most water dogs, the Lagotto originally served as a retriever, but it was already being trained for its special work as a truffle finder in the last century. This tough dog with its thick coat proved to be well suited for this work in the wet and thorny autumn woods of Romagna. Training begins very early for these dogs. They are introduced to the flavor of the desirable delicacy as three-month-old puppies. Bits of truffle wrapped in cloths stimulate their locating abilities. The puppies learn very quickly to find these. They are rewarded with a piece of bread and lots of cuddles, so that searching becomes a lot of fun for them. Like the drug-sniffing dogs, the Lagotto must learn promptly that it must only show the location of the find, not devour it or damage it. These alert, easily motivated, and quickly maturing dogs can understand this task very quickly. It also helps that breeders are working to minimize the hunting instinct. This helps the dogs to concentrate on their work in the woods without being distracted.
G. Morsiani is proud to say that for centuries, this ancient water dog has not been mixed with any other breeds. He is attempting to trace the breed all the way back to the ancient peat dog. He wrote the first breed standard, where we learn the following: This curly coated wooly dog comes in all the warm colors such as brown, orange, or cream. It may be solid or speckled. A brown mask is also allowed. Black, solid white, and grey are undesirable. The Lagotto's wooly coat tends to mat. Therefore, it should be completely clipped down once a year.
Its size varies from 43 to 48 cm, with a weight of 11 to 16 kg. The undocked tail should not be carried curled over the back. In addition to its work as a truffle dog, the Lagotto has retained its love of water. With its water-repellant coat, it should not hesitate to enter even cold water. It is a good watchdog in the home, and now this Italian native can also be seen at shows.
Along with the curly coat, other characteristics of the Lagotto also point to its similarity to the Poodle. In Anne and Claudie Nagels extensive Hamburg archive, one finds the following note. Döbel in his 1754 work Jägerpraktica [Hunting Practices] is said to have mentioned that the Poodle was better at finding truffles than any other breed of dog. Claudius Hüter wrote in 1907 (in Der Deutsche Pudel [The German Poodle], published by the German Poodle Club, Munich) that in Italy, Spain, France, and certain areas of Germany (Thuringia, Baden, and Hanover), the poodle was used for finding truffles in the fall and during mild winters. It is further reported that for years, the imperial chief forester von Meyerinck bred a line of purebred poodles at the main ranger station in Lödderitz on the Elbe. These poodles were used solely for truffle hunting. They are said to have been primarily small Poodles. More information is found in the journal Hund [Dog] from the year 1883, which contains a thorough description of truffle hunting and the training necessary for it. Even back then, the same training method was used with Lagottos as is today.
Special thanks to the president of the Italian Lagotto Club and to Maja Mächler for information on this newly recognized water dog.
[Pg. 22, col. 2 through pg. 24, col. 1:]
From the great quantity of information which has been handed down about the origins of our Poodle's ancestors, we can draw the following conclusions: The original homeland of the curly-haired dogs is probably Central Asia (Tibet, Mongolia). The sea-going Phoenicians were the first to bring them to other areas, taking them first to northern Africa and to the primary port cities of Portugal, Spain, and Italy. Later, at the time of the tribal migration, the Huns were accompanied by their curly-coated dogs. This explains the spread of the Puli in Hungary. Later crosses were brought about by the movement of herds of sheep between Spain and Hungary or Russia.
This explains how the old herding dog came to northern Africa and then to Spain as a water dog. Later (as the Barbet), it arrived in France as an escort for sheep, and from there, it ended up back in Russia and Hungary. There it met up again with the Huns' Asian dogs, its cousins who had been kidnapped from the Phoenicians. Movements also took place in the reverse order. We know that the Spanish water dog arrived in Spain with sheep herds from Turkey. A similar water dog was known in England at this same time. Everywhere that these curly-coated dogs appeared, it would theoretically have been possible for the Poodle to have developed. This realization makes it difficult to determine with certainty where our wooly dogs originated. Our modern Poodles, depending on size and color, have varying proportions of Russian, Hungarian, Spanish, German, and French blood--if we don't trace them directly back to the Tibetan Terrier.
[Pg. 24, col. 2 to pg. 25, col. 1:]
Not every breed of dog necessitates looking so far into the past as we need to do to learn about the rich tradition of the Poodle. Many Poodle owners proudly point out that the breed can be traced back to the sixteenth century. One caution though: according to Ludwig Beckmann, in German-speaking areas, all dogs with curly coats were called Poodles in the 17th and 18th century regardless of whether they were hunting dogs, water dogs, or herding dogs. It is therefore important to keep in mind that, when Poodles are mentioned in old stories, it doesn't necessarily mean the dog we know today.
The word "Poodle" comes from the old German expression pfudel which means puddle. The name expresses the connection to water. Another connection is demonstrated by the common German expression pudelnass for soaked to the skin (literally "as wet as a Poodle"). [See Poodle Lit. 101, German.] At the same time, the French referred to this dog as "Barbet" because of its pronounced beard. The Russians used an equivalent name. There the dogs were called "Barbosses." In Italy the Poodle is called "Barbone" to this day (the Italian translation of Barbet). The French name "caniche" refers to the dog's primary use. It was used mostly in hunting ducks (the French word for duck is canard).
In England, the word Poodle was captured in writing for the first time in 1643, namely in connection with a large white dog named 'Boy' who came from a high-class German kennel. Later the description 'French Poodle' came into use in England, causing people to connect the Poodle with France. However, according to the Dutch dog expert L. Seegers in one of his 1913 works, just as the Great Dane is not Danish, the so-called French Poodle is not necessarily French.
In search of the Poodle's origins, one comes not only to France, Spain, and Germany, but also to Hungary, where a similar dog has been known for a long time. Since we now know that herds of sheep were exported from Hungary to Germany along with herding dogs, we can easily imagine that these Hungarian herding dogs would have been crossed with the German Sheep Poodles. Corded Poodles certainly do remind us strongly of the Puli and the Komondor.
In Germany, the Poodle was bred from curly-coated shepherd dogs. Strebel sees the Poodle as a cross between a shepherd and a hunting dog. P. Reichenbach believes that the original Poodle was an eastern European shepherd dog, while the French proudly hold up their Barbet as the only true ancestor of the Poodle. There is probably some truth in all these theories since--given the Poodle's many varieties--one would expect that the different sizes were developed through different influences.
It is difficult to prove the exact origins of any breed of dog that was bred before being registered. In former times, breeding practices were very different, and matings took place at which modern breeders could only shake their heads in amazement.
Even back then, the Poodles was not bred just to look pretty. Large Poodles guided blind people, pulled travelling entertainers' wagons, worked as guard dogs, and were used by the military. Medium Poodles also worked herding sheep and helping fishermen until their talents for circus work were discovered. In addition to their role as companions of fashionable ladies, Small Poodles are said to have been trained for hunting truffles. Modern Poodles still possess all these abilities.
Who can be blamed for taking pleasure in the fact that Prince Rupert's loyal big white dog was referred to as a Poodle in 1643 or that--similarly--the brave war dog 'Moustache' was called a Poodle? Why shouldn't we believe Döbel when he wrote in 1754 that the Poodle was better at truffle hunting than any other breed? Looking back, it's hard to know if these were Poodles, Barbets, herding dogs, or Lagottos. In any case, there are pictures from the 17th and 18th centuries which clearly show our modern Poodle.
[As of 29 January 1998, there's more to come...]
Go back to Poodle History Project volunteers
Go back to Main Menu