The Poodle originates in Germany, where it was bred as a water retriever, used by duck hunters. The ancestors of the breed were various water dogs of Europe. The show trim, which is sometimes viewed as a fashionable fancy trim for show dogs, is in fact traditional and very practical: the hindquarters being clipped to aid the dog’s propulsion in swimming and the protective bands of hair (now fancifully called pom-poms) left on the joints and tip of the tail for protection from cold.
The Kennel Club recognises three varieties, differentiated by size. All share the same standard. The Miniature and the Toy varieties are a result of scaling down and capturing the same features in a smaller mould. Earlier standards recommended that the traditional lion trim was used in the show ring. More recently it has been acceptable to show Poodles in other types of trim.
What is the Poodle like as an agility partner?
In a nutshell: A gay, intelligent and friendly dog with a real sense of humour!
Poodles are highly intelligent, very active and very adaptable to human behaviour. Elegant in appearance and movement. Well balanced gait. High maintenance coat, but at least it doesn't fall out all over your floor. Faithful.
Temperament - Normally very good natured, but easily bored so may use their sense of humour on you.
Advantages as an agility dog -
Will learn most things very quickly, and they have good memories
Good clean jumpers
Really enjoy agility
Disadvantages as an agility dog-
You cannot keep repeating things over and over again as you might with a collie.
They don't like the handler getting it wrong and will switch off
Contact points - what contact points?
When not in the mood, just won't work!
Can find weaving difficult
Examples of dogs that have done well in agility:- Bill Glover with Elsa (especially in the rain): John Leslie with Bill, Bob Ratcliffe with Ace and Star; Wendy Ratcliffe with Ben and Cherie.
What's it like to live with as a pet- Wonderful. They are very adaptable. If the weather is awful, they do not insist on going for long walks, but they have been known to protest if dinner doesn't arrive when they think it should. If they enjoyed doing something naughty once, they will repeat it despite your protests whenever they want some fun. They may also teach it to other members of the poodle family.
Sources: Bob & Wendy Ratcliffe and Barbara Hall