Decked out in hideous hair-dos and garish wardrobe ensembles, Poodles have silently withstood this humiliation with a great sense of dignity and pride, believing with conviction that deep down, they remain one of the most elegant and intelligent dog breeds known to humankind.
Believed to have originated in Germany (where she was called Pudelhund) and Russia, Poodles were skilful and diligent water-retrievers who retrieved waterfowl from lakes.
Their moisture-resistant coats made them excellent swimmers. Despite her origins, the Poodle eventually found her home in France where her tradition as a water retriever continued abated.
Her crowning glory
So what’s with her fancy trimmings? As it turns out, it’s the perfect cut for a working gal! Far from a fashion statement, the Poodle’s hair-do was cut to specification as it offered her greater flexibility to swim unhindered by a heavy coat that would weigh her down. Thus the classic Poodle trim – a tight crop on her back and legs with hair left voluminous around her body to protect her vital organs. Her ankles and hips were also left with tufts of hair to protect her joints and bones from arthritis – after all, Poodles did happily plunge into icy cold water to retrieve hunted game for her hunter-masters. A ball of hair was also left on her upper tail to act as a rudder. Later her hair was adorned with coloured ribbons so her masters could pick her out from a distance.
Noticed how a Poodle’s coat is referred to as hair and not fur? That’s because unlike other dogs, a Poodle’s coat quality is actually wool that can be spun and made into garments. Her hair also never stops growing in length, much like ours, necessitating regular visits to the groomers.
Poodles are one of the most intelligent dog breeds around. Their inquisitive minds mean they learn very fast and excel in canine obedience and agility sports. It is no wonder Poodles performed in circuses for centuries. The most outstanding performer was Twinkle, a Poodle owned by the famous British clowns who called themselves The Grimaldis.
Out of the spotlight, Poodles also have an acute sense of smell and during the Vietnam War, were used to ferret out booby traps. Today, Poodles can be trained easily to recognise well in advance oncoming seizures in epileptic patients.
One of the most compelling descriptions about the Poodle’s intelligence comes from Frank Sabella, a world-renowned Poodle expert, who says, “The intelligence of the Poodle gives him that knowledge of his own importance, that vanity, which reflects itself throughout his entire presence. He knows he is a splendid beast, and he is enormously proud of it!”
A winning personality
Yes, a Poodle is a skilled water retriever, an intelligent hound and a great performer. If all that wasn’t enough, she is also an extremely friendly creature, a social bird if you will, who loves the company of humans, most probably because she thinks she is one too!
She is always agreeable, most eager to please, inquisitive and a delight to be around. Now when you look at a Poodle all decked up for the runway, remember she ain’t no dumb blonde waiting for her five minutes of fame!