It is generally accepted that the Poodle, or "Caniche", as it is called by the French, originated in France. This theory is sometimes questioned, because, as far back as the mid-sixteenth century, there is documented evidence that the "Pudel" existed in Germany and Russia. The first reference to a poodle in England was during the seventeenth century, in connection with Prince Rupert who owned a white poodle called "Boye". The bravery of this dog is legendary, as Prince Rupert often set him on his enemies in battle. Sadly, Boye was finally killed in the Battle of Marston Moor in 1643.
Three sizes of poodles are common today. However, it was not until the early twentieth century that breeders tried to produce smaller versions of the original, larger poodle. Miniature poodles are a relatively recent development. They certainly gained in popularity after the Second World War.
The Standard Poodle:
The title Standard Poodle is rather misleading because it actually refers to the largest variety of Poodle. The correct title for this variety is, in fact, simply the "Poodle". This variety must be over fifteen inches tall at the shoulder to qualify as a Poodle (or Standard Poodle). The early Poodle was primarily used by sportsmen as a hunting dog for retrieving fowl from water during shoots and for wading into reeds. Up until the First World War, the Poodle was also popular, both as a companion and as a show dog. Today, they remain popular but are not as commonly seen as the smaller varieties of Poodle.
The Miniature Poodle:
At the beginning of the twentieth century, breeders started to produce the Miniature Poodle. Miniature Poodles, by definition, must be less than fifteen inches at the shoulder. Breeders aimed to produce a variety that was half the size of the Poodle while, at the same time, retaining the style and elegance of the original Poodle. The first examples of the Miniature Poodle lacked the impact and elegance of the Poodle. Today's Miniature Poodles, however, are far more stylish and distinctive.
The Toy Poodle:
The Toy Poodle has evolved from the Miniature Poodle and is a relatively recent addition to the Poodle breed. It only received official status from the U.K. Kennel Club in 1957. There is a slight variation between the America and British definition of what qualifies as a Toy Poodle. The size limit is eleven inches or less in Britain; whereas in America it is ten inches or less at the shoulder. Some people would argue that this smallest variety of Poodle lacks both the beauty and elegance of the Poodle and the Miniature Poodle.
There are three acceptable colors for poodles, namely, all black, all white or all brown. The Kennel Club does not accept any mixed-colored specimens.
There are several, quite intricate coat clips that are generally acceptable for pedigree poodles. Unfortunately, the shaggy but endearing appearance, that one is sometimes seen sported by larger poodles, is not acceptable to those who take the business of showing and breeding Poodles seriously.
Whatever the variety of poodle, it is well known for its lovely nature, intelligence, sensitivity, elegance, and friendliness. It is also noted for being one of the longest living breeds of dogs. This is particularly true of the large poodle.