Welcome back once again to our December blog series, where we showcase the years top twelve dog breeds as ranked by the American Kennel club (AKC.) Today, we’ll be talking about breed number six, the Poodle!
Poodle Breed Basics
The Poodle is arguably one of the most iconic dog breeds in the world. When we think of Poodles, most of us probably picture a yappy little fluffy dog. However, most Poodles are incredibly smart and love to learn. They’re good at everything from hunting to service work, which makes the breed a great companion, especially for those seeking a non-shedding dog.
Appearance and Grooming
Poodles come in three sizes. Standards must be more than 15 inches tall. Miniatures need to be between 10 and 15 inches, while the toy poodle must stand under 10 inches at the shoulder. They come in all kinds of colors, including white, black, apricot, silver, blue, cream, brown, and the list goes on. Poodle fur behaves more like human hair, which means these dogs rarely shed. They do need frequent visits to the Groomer and daily brushing, otherwise, they’ll get matts everywhere. These can become really painful and even cause skin infections if left untreated.
If you’re not a fan of the elaborate clipping seen on showing Poodles, you’ll be glad to know there are lots of more practical hairstyles available! Poodle parents sometimes learn how to groom their own dogs, but most people prefer using a professional groomer to help with this task. Generally, Poodles need a spa day every four to six weeks. If spending time brushing your dog daily sounds like a lot, this breed may not be the best fit.
Aside from a high-maintenance beauty regiment, Poodles tend to live long, healthy, and happy lives. As with other breeds, they can get hip or elbow dysplasia, but responsible breeders test their breeding dogs in order to help prevent these genetic disorders. Miniature and toy poodles can have trouble with weight gain, so be sure to keep an eye on your dog’s calorie intake.
Training and Temperament
Poodles are happy, friendly dogs who love engaging with people and get along well with other dogs. They have a great sense of humor and thrive on being the center of attention! This brilliant breed is capable of doing just about anything. They bond strongly with their humans but are also friendly with strangers. Poodles were actually bred to be hunting dogs, so like all hunting breeds ever, they need daily exercise to keep them happy. Walks are great, but these versatile pups also love swimming, fetch, or learning tricks. They have an amazing capacity for learning new behaviors and really love to please! Keeping your Poodle busy is important, both for them and for you. Poodles who don’t receive regular exercise and human interaction may become bored and create their own entertainment. We can almost guarantee that their idea of fun won’t be compatible with yours.
Keeping the Poodle entertained is actually a lot of fun for the humans, too! They enjoy and excel at all kinds of sanctioned canine activities. A short list of these include agility, obedience, hunt tests, and dock diving! The poodle can also make an excellent service dog, particularly for a person who deals with allergies that make using more traditional breeds difficult. The important thing to keep in mind is that these are brilliant, high-energy hunting dogs, not fluffy lapdogs. If they get treated accordingly, the poodle can make a fantastic companion or working dog for a lot of people.
Poodle Breed History
The poodle is the national dog of France, but the breed originated in Germany around 400 years ago. They were actually bred to hunt ducks and other kinds of waterfowl. In fact, the exaggerated show cut we see today began as a practical way for hunters to keep their dog’s joints and torso warm in cold water while allowing for freedom of movement.
Standard Poodles are the oldest variety. The Miniature and Toy Poodles were created by selecting for smaller size. The smaller types also got to be working dogs. Miniatures were trained to locate truffles, a type of edible mushroom. Both Miniature and Toy Poodles became very popular as circus dogs because of their intelligence, charisma, and ability to learn tricks.
These curly-coated canines became popular in England and Spain, but France went so far as to adopt the Poodle as its national dog! King Louis XVI fell in love with Miniature Poodles, which really boosted the breed’s status among the aristocracy. It became fashionable for people to own Poodles for companionship, and the breed has kept growing in popularity. Toy Poodles didn’t become an official breed until the mid-twentieth century.
French Christmas Traditions
Since the Poodle is the national dog of France, here are some fun Christmas traditions from his homeland! The main Christmas meal, called “Réveillon”, is eaten on Christmas Eve or early Christmas morning after people have returned from the midnight church service. Dishes might include roast turkey with chestnuts or roast goose, oysters, foie gras, lobster, venison and cheeses. Wines, of course, are consumed along with all the food. The whole meal can last up to six hours! The usual Christmas dessert is a special sponge cake called bûche de Noël. It’s made of chocolate and chestnuts, and apparently looks like a yule log.
People in France will often burn yule logs on Christmas Eve night. They are typically made of cherry wood and sprinkled with red wine to create a pleasant scent. Families light some candles and leave out a special meal overnight, in the event that Mary and baby Jesus should decide to visit. Religion is a huge part of the Christmas celebrations. People make a special point of going to church either for midnight mass or on Christmas day itself.
When it comes to decorations, Nativities are popular in French households. French nativity scenes use clay figures which can be purchased at holiday fairs during the month of December, in normal times that is. Outdoor markets are held all over the country, but Marseilles is known for their festive charm. Christmas trees are decorated well before Christmas Eve.
French children call Santa Clause “Père Noel.” He stops by and leaves presents or treats for all the good boys and girls, human or canine, just like he would in the U.S.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed our quick look at the Poodle! Bulldogs will be coming up next!