Description & History

The Poodle, or Caniche, is generally considered to be of French origin, although some authorities on the breed believe it could have originated in Germany.

They were originally known as Water Dogs, and it appears that the name Poodle was not used in England until the middle of the nineteenth century. In Germany and the British Isles the name Poodle has associations with water. The German word "pudel" and the English word puddle suggests that owners of these dogs possibly chose a name that emphasised their love of water.

An ancient breed that down the centuries has been used in a number of roles; sporting, entertainment and companionship.

As sporting dogs, Poodles were originally used as gundogs. Owing to their great love of water, combined with a natural hunting and scenting ability, they were used for retrieving waterfowl.

As entertainers, Poodles have travelled with circuses for centuries delighting audiences while performing many parts with or without fancy dress.

Since the thirteenth century writers and artists have portrayed these affectionate companions in paintings, engravings, books and porcelain. They depict the Poodle with the aristocracy and wealthy, also with ordinary folk.

Probably the best known companion and friend was a Poodle called Boye. He accompanied his owner, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, when he came to England to fight with Charles I in the Civil War (1642-1646). Boye was Prince Rupert's companion on and off the battlefield and was killed at the Battle of Marsden Moor in 1644.

A number of dogs, especially Beagles, have given their services in aid of medical research. A Poodle called Roger, a diabetic, helped specialists research the disease not only for the benefit of dogs but also for humans. Roger developed diabetes at fifteen months and, due entirely to his devoted owner, lived a happy and useful life, although insulin dependant, until he was eleven years of age.

The Standard Poodle is the forebear of the Miniature and Toy Poodle.

Rosamund Walters.

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