This article also relates to: Miniature Poodle and Toy Poodle
Believed to have originated in Germany and been introduced to France by German soldiers, the Poodle has traditionally been bred in three sizes, including Miniature, Toy and Standard, with Standard being the oldest variation, used early on as a faithful water retriever. Utilised as a working, military dog since the 17th century, the Poodle possesses a strong hunting instinct and is notoriously intelligent, versatile and active. A popular entertainer in the early French circus, the Poodle was progressively clipped and fashioned for aesthetic suitability in the show ring and was favoured in the royal courts of Europe, appearing to Louis XVI as his pampered companions.
All three varieties of Poodle are proportionately framed, with dark ovular eyes inset back into the head, a dense, woollen and non-shedding coat that was initially clipped because it became heavy when wet, a deep-chested body that boasts a large lung capacity for stamina when hunting, and a black nose. The Poodle is common in a number of block colour variations, including black, brown, silver beige, blue (grey), apricot, white, sable and brindle. Attributed the label 'utility breed' by the Kennel Club, the Poodle shares its sporting and working category with the Bulldog, Akita and Dalmatian.
Contrary to popular belief, the Poodle is not known for possessing an aggressive, highly-strung temperament, but rather is a gentle, vigilant and obedient breed, recognised as one of the most trainable. Alert to threat and change, the Poodle makes a great guard dog and is protective of its owners and family. Whilst there are discrepencies across gender, the average Poodle will weigh between 20-32 kg, and has a long life expectancy of 12-16 years when cared for accordingly.
Whilst being a generally healthy and long-lived breed, the Poodle is commonly subject to a number of genetic diseases, including optical disorders, ear infections resulting from hair growing inside the ear canal, as well as various skin allergies and intolerances. There are many documented cases of cancer in the breed, epilepsy, thyroid and renal disease, which are a relative cause for concern. Addison's disease, characterised by deficiency in the adrenal cortex, can cause fatal chemical imbalances in Poodles. Additionally, the breed is susceptible to von Willebrand's disease, a common bleeding disorder.