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Languedoc Poodles
French Poodles from the Languedoc, South of France

History of the Standard Poodle


Click for larger picture.Poodles are native to Germany not France as often thought. They worked in the swamps as a water dogs trained to retrieve fallen birds for hunters. Otherwise the breed's origins are shrouded in mystery. Two theories have been proposed.

  • The first is that they were developed from rugged Asian herding dogs captured by Berbers, a North African people. They travelled from North Africa to Portugal and Spain with the Moors in the 8th Century;
  • The second is that they were descended from the dogs that left the Asian steppes with the Goths, a federation of German tribes, who travelled west with the Ostrogoths.

Ancient bas-reliefs found around the Mediterranean favour the African theory. It is also supported by fact that the Poodle's ancestors probably include North African Barbet, but this does not prove the theory as the barbet is known to have been introduced to Europe via the Iberian Peninsula.

In any case, the name is a corruption of the German pudeln, which means "to splash in water."

The Standard Poodle was known at least as early as the 15th Century. There are many references in art and literature. Poodles are shown in the works of German artist Albrecht Durer (16th Century). In the 18th century it was a favourite pet dog in Spain, as shown by Goya. Their intelligence and disposition led to breeding down to Miniature and Toy sizes for companion dogs for the ladies of the Royal Court of Europe.

a BarbetDuring the 1800s poodles were used to produce the coat of the Curly-coated Retriever. They were also crossed with English pointers to produce the Pudelpointer, a happy-go-lucky, energetic, and versatile German hunting dog. They also played a part in the development of the Irish Water Spaniel. More recently they have been crossed with Labradors to produce Labradoodles, which turn out to make good Guide Dogs for the blind, and are extensively used as such in Australia.

Related breeds include the Barbet and the Portuguese Water Dog as well as the Irish Water Spaniel.


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