The Poodle is naturally a sporting dog, and was formally used for that purpose. No dog surpasses him as a retriever from the water, and he is still used for that purpose in Europe. The breed is well distributed over the Continent, and there are Russian and German Poodles, as well as those of France, which is generally considered their native home.
No dog surpasses the Poodle in intelligence; in fact, no dog is his equal, and he is best known to the public as the star artist in all companies of performing dogs. He has a quality of mind that borders on the human; his reasoning powers are evident to all with whom he is associated, and there is apparently no limit to his aptitude for learning. Poodles are divided into two varieties, and both have escaped the greatest popularity simply on account of the quality of their coats, which require considerable attention to keep in show condition. In all other respects they require no more attention than other dogs, and all who are familiar with the breed are firm in their belief that no dog is so interesting a companion.
There are two varieties of Poodles recognized on the show bench-the corded and the curly-coated. The only difference between them lies in the character of the coat. The coat of the curlies is kept short and combed out to give it a fluffy appearance. The coat of the corded is encouraged to grow out until it attains abnormal lengths. The two varieties are identical. A curly-coat that is not combed out will grow a corded coat, for if the curls are not interfered with they will twist into little cords which increase in length steadily as the unshed old hair and the new growth entwine into rope-like cords, which, if not cut or broken off, will eventually drag along the ground and impede locomotion. It is this fact which accounts for the curly variety being more popular than the showier corded variety.
The Poodle is usually shown fantastically clipped, the pattern varying with the tastes of the owner. It is the rule to shave the face, legs, and loins, with the exception of tufts of hair here and there, and a lion-like mane and body covering.
Both the curly and the corded varieties are divided by weight, the large class scaling as high as seventy pounds, and the toys in the vicinity of five pounds.
Soundness of color is desired; black, white, brown, and blue are correct. It is said that the whites are most intelligent, next the blacks, and then the browns and blues.
In selecting puppies, look for long heads, dark eyes, and narrow skulls, with clean neck and shoulders, straight forelegs, short backs, and well sprung ribs.
The chief points to look for in the selection of Poodle puppies at from two to four months old, whether large or toy, are: Great length of head, dark eyes, narrow skull, short back, well-sprung ribs, clean neck and shoulders, straight forelegs.
The following are the description and points as laid down by the Poodle Club:
GENERAL APPEARANCE.-That of a very active, intelligent, and elegant-looking dog, well built, and carrying himself very proudly.
HEAD.-Long, straight, and fine, the skull not broad, with a slight peak at the back.
MUZZLE.-Long (but not snipy) and strong-not full in cheek; teeth white, strong, and level; gums black, lips black and not showing lippiness.
EyES.-Almond-shaped, very dark, full of fire and intelligence.
NOSE.-Black and sharp.
EARS.-The leather long and wide, low set on, hanging close to the face.
NECK.-Well proportioned and strong, to admit of the head being carried high and with dignity.
SHOULDERS.-Strong and muscular, sloping well to the back.
CHEST.-Deep and moderately wide.
BACK.-Short, strong, and slightly hollowed, the loins broad and muscular, the ribs well sprung and braced up.
FEET.-Rather small, and of good shape, the toes well arched, pads thick and hard.
LEGS.-Fore set straight from shoulder, with plenty of bone and muscle. Hind legs very muscular and well bent, with the hocks well let down.
TAIL.-Set on rather high, well carried, never curled or carried over back.
COAT.-Very profuse, and of good, hard texture; if corded, hanging in tight, even cords; if noncorded, very thick and strong, of even length, the curls close and thick, without knots or cords.
COLORS.-All black, all white, all red, all blue. THE WHITE POODLE should have dark eyes, black or very dark liver nose, lips, and toenails.
THE RED POODLE should have dark amber eyes, dark liver nose, lips, and toenails.
THE BLUE POODLE should be of an even color, and have dark eyes, lips, and toenails.
All the other points of White, Red, and Blue Poodles should be the same as the perfect Black Poodle.
N. B.-It is strongly recommended that only one-third of the body be clipped or shaved, and that the hair on the forehead be left on.
VALUE OF POINTS.-General appearance and movement, 15; head and ears, 15; eyes and expression, 10; neck and shoulders, 10; shape of body, loin, back, and carriage of stern, 15; legs and feet, 10; coat, color, and texture of coat, 15; bone, muscle, and condition, 10. Total, 100.