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The Poodle

The Poodle is commonly acknowledged to be the most wisely intelligent
of all members of the canine race. He is a scholar and a gentleman;
but, in spite of his claims of long descent and his extraordinary
natural cleverness, he has never been widely popular in this country
as the Collie and the Fox-Terrier are popular. There is a general
belief that he is a fop, whose time is largely occupied in personal
embellishment, and that he requires a great deal of individual
attention in the matter of his toilet. It may be true that to keep
him in exhibition order and perfect cleanliness his owner has need
to devote more consideration to him than is necessary in the case
of many breeds; but in other respects he gives very little trouble,
and all who are attached to him are consistent in their opinion that
there is no dog so intensely interesting and responsive as a
companion. His qualities of mind and his acute powers of reasoning
are indeed so great that there is something almost human in his
attractiveness and his devotion. His aptitude in learning is never
denied, and many are the stories told of his marvellous talent and

Not merely as a showman's dog has he distinguished himself. He is
something more than a mountebank of the booths, trained to walk the
tight rope and stand on his head. He is an adept at performing tricks,
but it is his alertness of brain that places him apart from other
animals. There is the example of the famous Munito, who in 1818
perplexed the Parisians by his cleverness with playing cards and his
intricate arithmetical calculations. Paris was formerly the home of
most of the learned Poodles, and one remembers the instance of the
Poodle of the Pont Neuf, who had the habit of dirtying the boots of
the passers-by in order that his master--a shoe-black stationed
half-way across the bridge--might enjoy the profit of cleaning them.
In Belgium Poodles were systematically trained to smuggle valuable
lace, which was wound round their shaven bodies and covered with a
false skin. These dogs were schooled to a dislike of all men in
uniform, and consequently on their journey between Mechlin and the
coast they always gave a wide berth to the Customs officers. On the
Continent Poodles of the larger kind are often used for draught work.

There can be little doubt that the breed originated in Germany, where
it is known as the Pudel, and classed as the Canis familiaris
Aquaticus. In form and coat he would seem to be closely related to
the old Water-dog, and the resemblance between a brown Poodle and
an Irish Water Spaniel is remarkable. The Poodle is no longer regarded

as a sporting dog, but at one period he was trained to retrieve
waterfowl, and he still on occasion displays an eager fondness for
the water.

Throughout Europe and in the United States--wherever these dogs are
kept--it is usual to clip the coat on the face, the legs, and the
hinder part of the body, leaving tufts of hair on the thighs and a
ring of hair on the pasterns. The origin and purpose of the custom
are not apparent, but now that Poodles are almost always kept as house
dogs, this mode of ornamentation at least commends itself by reducing
the labour of daily grooming if the coat is to be maintained in good
condition and the dog to be a pleasant associate.

The profuse and long coat of this dog has the peculiarity that if
not kept constantly brushed out it twists up into little cords which
increase in length as the new hair grows and clings about it. The
unshed old hair and the new growth entwined together thus become
distinct rope-like cords. Eventually, if these cords are not cut
short, or accidentally torn off, they drag along the ground, and so
prevent the poor animal from moving with any degree of comfort or
freedom. Some few owners, who admire and cultivate these long cords,
keep them tied up in bundles on the dog's back, but so unnatural and
unsightly a method of burdening the animal is not to be commended.

Corded Poodles are very showy, and from the remarkable appearance
of the coat, attract a great deal of public attention when exhibited
at shows; but they have lost popularity among most fanciers, and have
become few in number owing to the obvious fact that it is impossible
to make pets of them or keep them in the house. The reason of this
is that the coat must, from time to time, be oiled in order to keep
the cords supple and prevent them from snapping, and, of course, as
their coats cannot be brushed, the only way of keeping the dog clean
is to wash him, which with a corded Poodle is a lengthy and laborious
process. Further, the coat takes hours to dry, and unless the newly
washed dog be kept in a warm room he is very liable to catch cold.
The result is, that the coats of corded Poodles are almost invariably
dirty, and somewhat smelly.

At one time it was suggested that cordeds and non-cordeds were two
distinct breeds, but it is now generally accepted that the coat of
every well-bred Poodle will, if allowed, develop cords.

Curly Poodles, on the other hand, have advanced considerably in
favour. Their coats should be kept regularly brushed and combed and,
if washed occasionally, they will always be smart and clean, and
pleasant companions in the house.

The four colours usually considered correct are black, white, brown,
and blue. White Poodles are considered the most intelligent, and it
is certain that professional trainers of performing dogs prefer the
white variety. The black come next in the order of intelligence, and
easily surpass the brown and blue, which are somewhat lacking in true
Poodle character.

No strict lines are drawn as regards brown, and all shades ranging
from cream to dark brown are classed as brown. Mrs. Robert Long a
few years ago startled her fellow-enthusiasts by exhibiting some
parti-coloured specimens; but they were regarded as freaks, and did
not become popular.

The points to be looked for in choosing a Poodle are, that he should
be a lively, active dog, with a long, fine head, a dark oval eye,
with a bright alert expression, short in the back, not leggy, but
by no means low on the ground, with a good loin, carrying his tail
well up; the coat should be profuse, all one colour, very curly, and
rather wiry to the touch.

If you buy a Poodle puppy you will find it like other intelligent
and active youngsters, full of mischief. The great secret in
training him is first to gain his affection. With firmness, kindness,
and perseverance, you can then teach him almost anything. The most
lively and excitable dogs are usually the easiest to train. It is
advantageous to teach your dog when you give him his meal of biscuit,
letting him have the food piece by piece as a reward when each trick
is duly performed. Never attempt to teach him two new tricks at a
time, and when instructing him in a new trick let him always go
through his old ones first. Make it an invariable rule never to be
beaten by him. If--as frequently is the case with your dogs--he
declines to perform a trick, do not pass it over or allow him to
substitute another he likes better; but, when you see he obstinately
refuses, punish him by putting away the coveted food for an hour or
two. If he once sees he can tire you out you will have no further
authority over him, while if you are firm he will not hold out against
you long. It is a bad plan to make a dog repeat too frequently a trick
which he obviously dislikes, and insistence on your part may do great
harm. The Poodle is exceptionally sensitive, and is far more
efficiently taught when treated as a sensible being rather than as
a mere quadrupedal automaton. He will learn twice as quickly if his
master can make him understand the reason for performing a task. The
whip is of little use when a lesson is to be taught, as the dog will
probably associate his tasks with a thrashing and go through them
in that unwilling, cowed, tail-between-legs fashion which too often
betrays the unthinking hastiness of the master, and is the chief
reason why the Poodle has sometimes been regarded as a spiritless

The Poodle bitch makes a good mother, rarely giving trouble in
whelping, and the puppies are not difficult to rear. Their chief
dangers are gastritis and congestion of the lungs, which can be
avoided with careful treatment. It should be remembered that the dense
coat of the Poodle takes a long time to dry after being wetted, and
that if the dog has been out in the rain, and got his coat soaked,
or if he has been washed or allowed to jump into a pond, you must
take care not to leave him in a cold place or to lie inactive before
he is perfectly dry.

Most Poodles are kept in the house or in enclosed kennels, well
protected from draught and moisture, and there is no difficulty in
so keeping them, as they are naturally obedient and easily taught
to be clean in the house and to be regular in their habits.

The coat of a curly Poodle should be kept fleecy and free from tangle
by being periodically combed and brushed. The grooming keeps the skin
clean and healthy, and frequent washing, even for a white dog, is
not necessary. The dog will, of course, require clipping from time
to time. In Paris at present it is the fashion to clip the greater
part of the body and hind-quarters, but the English Poodle Club
recommends that the coat be left on as far down the body as the last
rib, and it is also customary with us to leave a good deal of coat
on the hind-quarters.

Probably the best-known Poodle of his day in this country was Ch.
The Model, a black corded dog belonging to Mr. H. A. Dagois, who
imported him from the Continent. Model was a medium-sized dog, very
well proportioned, and with a beautifully moulded head and dark,
expressive eyes, and I believe was only once beaten in the show ring.
He died some few years ago at a ripe old age, but a great many of
the best-known Poodles of the present day claim relationship to him.
One of his most famous descendants was Ch. The Joker, also black
corded, who was very successful at exhibitions. Another very handsome
dog was Ch. Vladimir, again a black corded, belonging to Miss

Since 1905 the curly Poodles have very much improved, and the best
specimens of the breed are now to be found in their ranks. Ch. Orchard
Admiral, the property of Mrs. Crouch, a son of Ch. The Joker and Lady
Godiva, is probably the best specimen living. White Poodles, of which
Mrs. Crouch's Orchard White Boy is a notable specimen, ought to be
more widely kept than they are, but it must be admitted that the task
of keeping a full-sized white Poodle's coat clean in a town is no
light one.

Toy White Poodles, consequently, are very popular. The toy variety
should not exceed fifteen inches in height at the shoulder, and in
all respects should be a miniature of the full-sized dog, with the
same points.

* * * * *

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-legs 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 non-corded, very thick and strong, of even
length, the curls close and thick, without knots or cords.
COLOURS--All black, all white, all red, all blue. THE WHITE POODLE
should have dark eyes, black or very dark liver nose, lips, and
toe-nails. THE RED POODLE should have dark amber eyes, dark liver
nose, lips, and toe-nails. THE BLUE POODLE should be of even colour,
and have dark eyes, lips, and toe-nails. All the other points of
White, Red, and Blue poodles should be the same as the perfect Black

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.

Next: The Schipperke

Previous: The Chow Chow

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