Poodles are divided into three different varieties, standard, miniature and toy. The American Kennel Club, a leading authority on dog breeds, outlines varieties by size. Standard Poodles need to be over 15 inches at the highest points of their shoulders. Miniature Poodles are defined as 15 inches or less at the highest point of the shoulders and over 10 inches. Toy Poodles should measure 10 inches or less at the highest point of the shoulders.
The Standard Poodle was the first variety of this dog breed. It was bred to retrieve waterfowl for hunters. The name “poodle” probably derives from the German “pudelin”, which means to wallow in the water.
Many people think of the poodle cut as something invented to make pampered smaller dogs look cute, but it was actually invented for the standard poodle in its original water-catcher job. The back hair has been trimmed to allow the dog to swim better while the chest hair has been left intact to protect his vital organs in cold water. The pom on the tail and the bow on the head were used to help hunters find and identify their dogs in the water.
The standard Poodle’s size has made it useful in many other abilities as well. Poodles have been trained as guide dogs, army dogs, guard dogs, wagon dogs, and even sled dogs. Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a cousin of Charles I of England, is said to have had a standard white poodle named Boy, which he took into battle with him, and which died in 1644 at the Battle of Marston Moor. Emperor Napoleon mentions in his memoirs a standard poodle who died in the battle of Marengo. During World War II, in the United States, standard poodles were used to protect defense facilities, military installations, and coastlines. Because they are hypoallergenic, Poodles make excellent guide dogs for the blind with allergies. In 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991 dog sled teams composed partly of poodles raced the Iditarod race in Alaska and concluded the long and grueling journey across the ice.
Miniature and Toy Poodles were bred during the Renaissance when European nobility wanted small dogs as companions. People carried small poodles in their sleeves during the cold season. To this day, Toy and Miniature Poodles are considered companion dogs, often carried around in purses or purses. Smaller poodles have been used to find a species of mushroom called a truffle, because they would destroy the soil less than their larger cousins. Small poodles were trained by gypsies to perform tricks and were used in vaudeville and circuses.
In February, a male toy poodle named Walker won in the toy dog division at the Westminster Dog Show, beating a Pekingese, a shih-tzu and a bow tie. Walker was the country’s most successful toy dog last year, winning more than 30 best show awards.
Two poodle sizes not recognized by the AKC are the Klein and teacup poodles. The Klein is intermediate in size between standard and miniature, standing 15 to 20 inches at the top of the shoulder. Klein, or moyens as they are called in France, are usually kept as pets in American homes as they cannot compete in AKC shows. Teacup Poodles are the smallest, being only nine inches at the top of the shoulder or smaller. They usually only weigh six pounds or less.
Whatever their size, Poodles are known to be one of the smartest and most trainable dog breeds. If you buy a Poodle, socialize him well and train him early for a happy, well-adjusted companion.
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