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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".
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 inder 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 coward.
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 Haulgrave.
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. Back to About Poodles