Ricky the standard poodle beat 22,000 rivals to win the coveted crown on Crufts 2014: Best In Show.
Millions of Channel 4 viewers watched Ricky and his equally elegant showman take the winner’s giant cup – some of them would be thinking: “Do poodles really enjoy being clipped and preened like that?” while dedicated poodlefanciers were ecstatic with joy.
In fact – contrary to their showring appearance – standard poodles are workmanlike, countryloving dogs.
The poodle is believed to have originated in Germany where it was known as the Pudelhund (pudle is Low German for the English puddle.) The breed was standardized in France, where it was commonly used as a water retriever and later became that country’s national breed.
The European mainland had known the poodle long before it was brought to England.
Drawings by German artist Albrecht Durer established the popular image of the breed in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was the principal pet dog of the late 18th century in Spain, as shown by the paintings of the Spanish artist Francisco Goya.
France had toy poodles as pampered favorites during the reign of Louis XVI at about the same period.
The Standard Poodle is the oldest of the different poodle types and – contrary to their show appearance – they are effective retrievers or gun dogs and still used by hunters in that role. Their coats are moisture-resistant, which helps their swimming.
All of the poodle’s ancestors were acknowledged to be good swimmers. The dogs are also skilful in many dog sports including agility, obedience, tracking and even herding.
Standard poodles have achieved the Crufts Best in Show award in 1955, 1985, 2002 as well as 2014.
Standard Poodles can be fun dogs to own and do not have to be clipped in the show form although breeders will say this clip was originally designed to help them move through the water.
A family friend owned a magnificent standard poodle called Friday. He had a short, curly all over coat, was a great sportsman and romped through the woods and streams with the local labradors and sheepdogs.
Poodles are also excellent family dogs and the smaller varieties are suited to town life, as long as there is plenty of opportunity for outdoor exercise.