We are back fellow dog owners and dog sitters! Last time we learned about the history of the Poodle arriving in Europe from Asia. In this post we will be talking about why the Poodle is commonly known as the “French Poodle”, and the origin of the popular haircut given to the Poodle.
A common misconception most people have about the Poodle is that it is somehow ‘French’, because of the association with the name ‘French Poodle’. However, the word Poodle actually comes from a German word “pudel” or “pudelin” meaning “to splash in water.” Germans likely named the dog breed after observing its willingness to “splash” into the water while working. The “French” part of the term “French Poodle” came around the 16th century when France was a major political power in Europe. Dressing and stylizing the Poodle was particular popular among the French noble courts at this time. Since the Poodle was likely at the side of a French person, and the term “French Poodle” was born.
Now the interesting hairstyles of the Poodle originated from its one of a kind coat. The Poodle is the only dog breed to have a hair coat instead of a fur coat. As any Seattle dog boarding facility owner, dog sitter, or person who comes in contact with many breeds of dogs will tell you, this hair Poodles only have a single layer of hair unlike the topcoat and undercoat of most dogs. This single layer constantly grows and never sheds so it needs to be cut and maintained on a regular basis. Historical workers would cut the hair on a Poodle to make it more hydrodynamic and thus a more efficient working dog. Cutting excess hair off the dog also ensured the dog would not be encumbered by extra weight and be at risk of drowning. However, some of the hair was left around the Poodle’s joints and vital organs to protect them from the cold of the water and act as padding. Nobles in the Middle Ages saw these haircuts and decided to use them as a way to decorate and stylize their pets. These practices became the groundwork for the modern Poodle haircuts you see used in grooming and show competitions today.
Please stay tuned for Part Three of this series, examining a popular offshoot of the Poodle dog breed called the Labradoodle.