What Were Poodles Bred For? Breed History, Roles, and Jobs

Written by Lisha Pace
Updated: October 4, 2022
© Dulova Olga/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:

Key Points:

  • Bred in Germany to serve as retrievers of water fowl for hunters, poodles are an intelligent, athletic breed known for their dense, curly, low allergen coats.
  • Poodles are usually ranked at or near the top of lists of the most intelligent breeds.
  • Prone to anxiety, poodles grow so attached to their humans that time spent apart is difficult for them and may require special training and attention.
  • Poodles come in three sizes: standard, miniature and toy.

Poodles Introduction

The regal poodle is a true aristocrat among dog breeds – exhibiting pride and confidence. Beneath the curly, low-allergen coat is an elegant athlete and sweet companion. Known for their intelligence, poodles are always listed at or near the top of lists of smartest breeds. They are easy to house train and love being with their humans. As a matter of fact, they love being with you so much that they tend to suffer from separation anxiety – so make sure that you can spend plenty of time with with your poodle before adopting. If you can – you may find your perfect pet!

Poodles, one of the most popular dogs in America, were initially bred for hunting water fowl. These dogs originated from Germany, and their name comes from a German word, “Pudelin,” meaning to splash in the water. They were also used to sniff out truffles and because of their superior trainability and intelligence – as circus performers.

This dog has a long, elegant neck and a straight back. It was mostly owned by the royals, who used them while hunting to retrieve ducks from lakes and ponds. Despite the breed’s working dog history, today, most dog lovers rear Poodles as pets.

17,656 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

Poodles come in three sizes, all considered part of the same breed: the toy, the miniature, and the standard. The standard is the oldest of the three varieties, and some still carry on the working tradition of water retriever. Miniature poodles have traditionally been truffle hunters – while the toy was bred to be a lap dog. The smaller breeds were bred from small poodles – not by mixing them with other smaller breeds.

These beautiful dogs have gorgeous coats in silver, black, white, grey and chocolate. The hair is curly, wiry, and dense, and this unique texture can be trimmed, clipped, groomed or shaved into all manner of fun styles. If your dog is not going to compete as a show dog – a casual, natural cut will be best. Poodles without elaborate do’s still require daily brushing as their coats tend to mat even if they don’t shed.

The earliest Poodles are dated back to the 14th century in Europe. They were later introduced to North America in the 17th century, but the American Kennel Club recognized the first Poodle in 1887. These dogs, although they were originally bred to retrieve, belong to the non-sporting group.

Standard Poodle Fact Chart

Fact TypeValue
Preferred TemperatureAverage
Shedability1
General Health3
Size3
Energy Level5
Exercise NeedsModerate 30-60 minutes daily
Friendly with other dogsModerate — Average relations with other dogs
Family and kid-friendliness5 — Extremely good with children
Trainability and obedience5
TemperamentIntelligent and active
Yappiness and barkingLow — rarely barks
Tendency to chew1
Purebred cost to own$800
Dog groupNon-sporting
Used for huntingYes
Intelligence5
Hypoallergenic (non-shedding)Yes
Life Span3
Female Weight45lbs
Female Weight60lbs
Male Weight45lbs
Male Weight70lbs
Separation anxietyModerate — can only be left alone for hours
Fun factIts hair can be styled into different styles
red royal poodle
Poodles were originally bred for hunting and owned by the upper classes.

©Diana Kellior/Shutterstock.com

The Best Dog Food for Poodles

All dogs are not the same; they require different nutrition, flavor, and formula needs. Poodles’ skin and coat health depends greatly on the quality of their food. They are highly prone to allergies and diabetes, so you must be selective when choosing the right diet for your pet.

Consider your pet’s size, age, and the amount of exercise your poodle requires when selecting the proper diet. Standard poodles are considered medium to large dogs – so pick from those formulas that are designed for larger dogs. Miniature and toy poodles need nutrition formulated for small dog metabolisms. Omega fatty acids help poodles to maintain shiny, healthy skin and coats.

Many dog owners prefer kibbles over canned varieties. They are convenient, easy to pick up and chew and contain necessary nutrients for purebred Poodles over 10 months old. Formulas that support healthy coat growth and muscle tone are always preferred.

kibbles
Kibbles are the best food for your poodle, supporting healthy coat growth and muscle tone.

©Zontica/Shutterstock.com

Owning a Poodle: Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Less shed
Poodles have long, beautiful hair instead of fur, so they do not shed. If you have a pet hair allergy, this is a suitable breed to keep.  
Good with children
You don’t want a dog that frightens your kids with barking. Poodles are playful and patient with children.  
Easy to train
Most dog owners desire their dogs to behave in a certain way, so they train them. A poodle is easy to train, thanks to it’s intelligence.
High maintenance
The dog’s hair grows long and beautiful, but you must trim it. You must also brush it daily to avoid tangling. Grooming services can be costly.  
Prone to stress
Poodles like peace and are hypersensitive. They show stress responses when there is noise and commotion.  
They need mental stimulation
Poodles are very intelligent, and if not occupied, they can indulge in less desired behaviors like chewing, excessive barking, and digging.

Poodle Common Health Issues

Poodles are known to be a strong and healthy breed, but they can have a few health issues. The most common health complication for poodles is bloating. Bloating is caused by air trapped inside the stomach, which could cause it to twist. The symptoms are vomiting motions while producing nothing, distress, and restlessness.

Addison’s disease, caused by defective adrenal glands, can sometimes occur. The symptoms are lack of appetite, slow heart rate, and shaking. Addison’s disease causes tumors to grow around the gland when not treated early.

Hip dysplasia affects many dogs, especially the big breeds, and is also common among standard poodles. It occurs when the ball and socket at the hip do not align. The socket could be under-developed or over-developed, causing the ball to dislocate. This condition is hereditary.

Your poodle’s long ears are also prone to infection – so be sure to keep them clean.

Poodle Temperament and Behavior

Poodles can quickly grasp instructions, thanks to their superior intelligence. Poodles usually rank second in the list of the most intelligent dogs, after the Border Collie. As a result, house training a poodle is easy.

A poodle’s high intelligence makes it more alert than other dogs. This could also be due to its hunting instincts. Poodles can quickly tell that there is an intruder in the compound, and they promptly respond to strangers.

Another personality trait of the puddle is that they tend to be extroverted. They like being with people and being the center of attention. If you notice your pet is becoming destructive, give it extra attention with more praise, cuddles, play and exercise.

One behavior you may not expect in your Poodle is aggression. These dogs are often unfriendly to other people and dogs. To ensure that your pup grows up to be sociable, train it when it is a puppy by making sure it gets used to being around non-family members and other dogs.

Resources: Dr. Marty Pets, AKC

poodle
Poodles are highly intelligent and extroverted dogs. However, they have a tendency toward aggressiveness if not properly socialized when young.

©nieriss/Shutterstock.com

How to Take Care of Poodles

Poodles are naturally eager to please and affectionate – and will bring great joy to your home. You must keep your dog healthy and happy to return the love. Besides giving your poodle healthy and nutritious food, other ways to care for it are by grooming, exercising, and training.

Poodle Maintenance and Grooming

Poodles’ unique curly coats requiring regular grooming and maintenance. Their soft, dense fur grows fast and can get matted if not brushed daily. Detangle the hair using your fingers, and then a soft slicker brush to comb against the hair growth direction.

You should gently detangle and brush the hair around the dog’s ears, belly, and front legs. These areas are sensitive, so be careful not to hurt your dog. Schedule a bath in between the grooming sessions. Grooming by professionals can be costly if you prefer an elaborate show dog style. Simple cuts are more economical and can even be done by poodle owners after they learn how to do it.

Poodle Training

Poodles are very intelligent and grasp instructions quickly, making them easy to train. They are also very friendly and entertaining, giving you loads of fun teaching your pup how to lie down or sit.

Resources:

Poodle Exercise

Since Poodles are playful, you should exercise them to release their energy. Not enough exercise makes this breed bored and restless as they need to be busy and intellectually stimulated. It is good to walk and to play with your pet for every day to keep it lively and happy.

You can introduce it to other engaging exercises like a game of fetch, running and jogging, and challenging toys. Another option is to take your dog swimming. However, the Toy and Miniature Poodles don’t need much exercise and are a suitable option for people with less time.

Poodle Puppies

Before getting a Poodle puppy, you should know the traits of this dog breed. Your new family member needs grooming, exercising, and training. Consider getting a veterinarian to check it’s health and purchasing pet health insurance in case it needs it.

Poodles and Children

If you want your kids to be primarily active, get a poodle! These dogs are so active and playful – they will keep your kids engaged. But, consider the standard poodle because it is more patient, and kids are also less likely to hurt it because of its size.

Dogs Similar to Poodle

Other dogs similar to Poodles are Labradoodle, Maltipoo, and Bichon Frise:

  • Labradoodle is a mixed breed of Labrador and half Poodle, and it is cuddly and playful. This poodle-like dog is also obedient and loyal.
  • Maltipoo has a lot of energy and a beautiful coat like Poodle. These dogs are social and require little physical activity.
  • Bichon Frise has a playful trait like Poodle. Bichon Frise is fun and loves attention. And like the Poodles, these canines are also intelligent.

Resources: hepper, the smart canine

Popular names for a Poodle include:

  • Coco
  • Leo
  • Mabel
  • Bennet
  • Bear

Resources:

Rover, DailyPaws

Poodles, in Summary

  • Is a Poodle good with kids? Poodles are patient, loyal, and affectionate. They are also playful and will keep your kids engaged. Standard size tends to be better with kids.
  • How long do Poodles live? Poodles have an average life span of 12-15 years.
  • How much does a Poodle cost to own?You can adopt a Poodle for $30-$300. However, if you are buying a Poodle from a breeder, you could pay $500-$2000. Professional grooming requirements should also be considered.
  • Are Poodles easy to train? Yes! They are one of the most intelligent breeds and are eager to please.

Up Next…

Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?

How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.

What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?

X-Small
Small
Medium
Large
Xtra-Large

If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Kids
Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

Yes
No
How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?

The Featured Image

poodle
© Dulova Olga/Shutterstock.com

Share this post on:
About the Author

After a career of working to provide opportunities for local communities to experience and create art, I am enjoying having time to write about two of my favorite things - nature and animals. Half of my life is spent outdoors, usually with my husband and sweet little fourteen year old dog. We love to take walks by the lake and take photos of the animals we meet including: otters, ospreys, Canadian geese, ducks and nesting bald eagles. I also enjoy reading, discovering books to add to my library, collecting and playing vinyl, and listening to my son's music.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.