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The Very Versatile Poodle
Poodles and Competitive Events

    While it may be hard to believe, Poodles weren't bred just to be show dogs. They were originally developed as gun dogs, or retrievers. They have also excelled at a number of other different activities, such as hunting, tracking and herding. Many Poodle owners around the world still use their dogs in some of these traditional roles, though hunting activities in general have faded in importance over the years. Nonetheless, there are a still a variety of competitions in which dogs can show off the talents that characterize them as a breed and Poodles perform with success in many of these competitions. Some of the competitive events in which Poodles are seen include agility, tracking, herding and obedience.

    A herding trial, often called a sheepdog trial, is a competition in which a handler/owner instructs his dog to move sheep around a predetermined area, which often contains gates, fences and/or enclosures. There are some competitions that do not allow Poodles to participate, as they were not specifically developed as a herding bred, while there are other competitions that allow any dog trained in herding to participate. A herding trial can consist of various types of events, but in each, one or two dogs must be able to control a group of sheep (usually three to six) and keep them on a prescribed course. These shows are probably centuries old and Poodles have been active participants for quite some time.

    Agility trials are becoming one of the most popular dog sports; all variations of the Poodle, including the Standard Poodle, have participated and done well in agility. This is a sport where a dog must run off leash through an obstacle course, making sure to accurately deal with the obstacles and do so in the shortest amount of time possible; the handler runs alongside the dog, directing the dog through, over and under the obstacles. The handler is not allowed to touch the obstacles or the dog (accidents are not penalized) and cannot give any incentives to the dog; body signals and voice commands are all the trainer can use. Poodles do well in this event because of their high level of intelligence and especially because of their sensitivity to their handlers; some handlers have reported that Poodles know exactly what their handlers want before a command is even given.  Rally is also a wonderful event for the Standard Poodle to excel in.

    A Poodle's intelligence and willingness to please its owner also has made it successful in obedience trials, in which a dog must perform a set of tasks on command; these tasks must be performed flawlessly. The tasks established for obedience trials are highly stylized and increase in complexity and difficulty as the dog moves up through competition levels. Poodles have also been known to do well in tracking trials, thanks to their breeding as gun dogs. In these trials, a track is laid to simulate a lost person or item and the dog, on a very long lead, must track down the lost person or item; the particulars of the trial can vary.
Showing Your Poodle

    As any happy Poodle owner can tell you, Poodles make excellent family pets. They also have an outstanding reputation in the show ring, however; they can be very flashy dogs and will almost always grab the attention of the judges and the public. For an owner to show their Poodle in UKC,  it takes quite a bit of time and dedication, not to mention money. There are requirements for height, physical appearance and the way the dog carries himself.

    In general, the Poodle must convey to the judge that he is energetic yet elegant and intelligent; he must demonstrate confidence and dignity when walking. Judges look for an air of quasi-arrogance in the Poodle that distinguishes this breed from almost all other dogs. To be considered a Standard Poodle, a dog must be over 15 inches high at the shoulders. Judges look for a squarely built dog, and so look for Poodles in which the distance between the sternum and the buttocks is roughly equal to the distance between the shoulders and the ground; furthermore, the dog must be well proportioned.

    Poodle eyes are oval shaped and must be very dark; they must give the sense of intelligence and alertness. Any dog with large eyes, light eyes, or round eyes will be heavily penalized. Their ears will be positioned at eye level or somewhat below; they cannot be above eye level. The leather of the ear is relatively wide and long, with a thick feathering. Their skull is somewhat rounded, with flat cheekbones; they have a relatively long, straight, delicate-looking muzzle, with a well-defined chin. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. A Poodle must have a straight, long neck that is strong; the head should be carried high on the neck, with no sagging skin.

    There should be a hollow, albeit small, behind their shoulders but the rest of the topline must be straight; they must possess a deep, wide chest and a straight, high set tail. The tail must be carried straight up and docked to give an impression of balance; the dog will be penalized if the tail is curled even slightly. Poodle feet should be small and oval-shaped; their toes should present with thick pads and should be arched. As mentioned previously, a very important aspect of Poodle showmanship is the cut, or clip, and quality of the coat. Parti Poodles can only be shown at the UKC (United Kennel Club)  The AKC does not recognize their colors and is considered a disqualification.  It is said however, that in the future AKC may begin to change their rules and allow Partis in the show ring.
The Poodle as a Watchdog

    A properly trained and socialized Poodle makes a wonderful pet. They are considered to be one of the most intelligent breed of dogs, even possessing a sense of humor. The Poodle was bred to work closely with humans, originally in the capacity of a water retriever and subsequently as a herder, hunter and guardian. They can be easily trained and have an overwhelming desire to please their owner or owners. Many of their characteristics have made Poodles into very efficient watchdogs.

    Poodles are quick to bond to their family members and those bonds are strong and long-lasting. They are very loving pets, pouring out affection for their family members and animals they've grown up with; and while they're not aggressive to strangers or other animals, they are wary of anything new in their environment and will alert their families when they see, hear or smell something new. And they are very good at sensing new things, as they are extremely alert dogs, in tune to their surroundings. Their heightened sensitivity also helps them detect when something is wrong and they are very obvious in communicating this sensation to their owners. They are also prone to barking and easily trainable, so owners can get their Poodles to bark in certain situations in order for them to announce new developments around the house and yard.

    Their instinctual behavior is particularly developed, and their history of hunting and guarding is often visible. They are extremely territorial dogs and are wary of any unrecognized individuals that approach their homes; given their high level of intelligence, they are able to tell who does not belong and won't be silent about it. If an owner rewards his Poodle for sounding an alarm, that Poodle will immediately pick up on his owner's satisfaction. Again, Poodles are very eager to please their owners and will repeat any behavior that gets a positive response. If not trained properly, however, the Poodle will take to excessive barking and may become a nuisance. This is to be avoided as it will quickly become unpleasant; consistent, firm, positive training is needed to make sure the dog knows when it is acceptable to bark. Never use harsh punishment on Poodles as they are very sensitive and neurotic behavior will arise if punished too hard.

    The Poodle's guardian qualities also include a very strong sense of protectiveness towards his owners; the female tends to be somewhat more protective compared to the male as her maternal instincts to protect her family are transferred onto her human owners. The Poodle's lack of aggressive behavior prevents it from being an effective guard dog; indeed, though Poodles will sound an alarm, they tend to be polite with strangers. This aversion for aggression, though, also allows them to be a safe family pet, good around children.

    Thanks to their many talents, Poodles today enjoy a wonderful reputation as loving and loyal pets. They are very good with children and enjoy human companionship. They also do quite well with other animals in the home. They love to play and will provide endless amounts of entertainment to the family that gives them the love they desperately look for. A sensitive pet, a Poodle aims to please and simply wishes to be shown praise and affection in return.

Poodles Are Considered To Be Very Versatile!