The English name comes from the German Pudel, or Pudelhund from pudeln, meaning to splash about. In France and Spain the poodle is known as a caniche.
The breed comes in three sizes (as shown to the right):
Standard: Over 38 cm at the shoulder
Miniature: Over 28 cm high, but under 38 cm
Toy: Under 28 cm and 10 lbs or under
The fur on the animal's body is naturally curly, often in small tight clumps of small curly ringlets. Hair on the ears can be straight or slightly curly. With brushing, the dog's fur will still retain wavy or curly properties, but will soften and straighten somewhat. The coat colour should be, one of black, white, brown, grey, blue, or apricot. "Parti" (partial), "phantom," and other coat colours exist, but are not acceptable in the show ring.
Poodles are generally intelligent, alert, and active; especially the large variety is quite independent and has a very noticeable hunting drive.
White Poodles make good companions and are extremely loyal, sometimes to the point of being possessive. The owner should be a capable trainer, as poodles can be headstrong if trained poorly. Well-trained Poodles are eager to please and love putting on a show for family and friends. Poodles do not shed and are considered a hypoallergenic breed. Poodles have hyperactive tear ducts that do not drain very well. This is a result of breeding. It is quite common to see Poodles with streaks of gooey brownish-red secretions in the corners of their eyes. If lots of drainage needs to occur, the tear duct may clog and a small ball of yellowish mucous may form near the tear duct. It is advisable to gently remove this accumulation with a lint-free and soft towel wrapped around your index finger.
Their coats require plenty of grooming to keep the constantly growing hair at a manageable length and to prevent it from matting. Matted fur can be very difficult to untangle, and often the clumps must be cut out with scissors.
The poodle is often thought of as a typically French breed (it is frequently referred to as the "French Poodle"). However, it is an old breed and its region of origin is a matter of contention. Most experts believe the poodle originated in Germany or Russia, but it may have come from Iberia.
Today, Poodles are generally kept as pets. However, they are a versatile breed capable of hunting, tracking, protection, or entertainment. French customs, for instance, uses Poodles to search for illegal substances. Because of their small size, they are more unobtrusive, when searching cars and train compartments, than bigger breeds such as the German shepherd.
Their intelligence and athletic build has made them popular as trick dogs or circus performers. They can compete well in some dog sports, such as dog agility, although their independent or playful nature can sometimes distract them from the focus and drive needed for these sports.