Poodles may seem elegant and refined, but they were originally bred to perform utilitarian jobs: This well-primped breed originally functioned as a water retriever. The unique, poufy coat styles that are breed show standards served to keep the working poodles' joints and vitals protected from the cold water while leaving the rest of the dog's parts from getting caught on snags.
Three Poodle Sizes
There are three main sizes of poodle: toy, miniature and standard. All three are part of the same breed. The toy poodle is about 10 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 6 to 9 pounds. The miniature poodle is 11 to 15 inches tall and weighs about 15 to 17 pounds; the standard stands about 22 inches and weighs about 45 to 70 pounds. Regardless of the size, poodles are known for being people friendly, playful dogs.
The Toy Poodle
Toy and miniature poodles are known to be more mischievous than their standard counterparts. Toy poodles, being the smallest, require less exercise and space to move. They are great companion dogs for people who are less active, as they tend to be content to set on your lap and watch TV. They are big cuddlers and are very social. They prefer peace and calm, and are not the most suitable choice for homes with small children.
The Miniature Poodle
As far back as the 1400s, breeders were trying to make poodles smaller by breeding them with each other instead of with smaller breeds. They were created as companion dogs for the wealthy class. An important thing to know about miniature poodles is that if you don't train them properly, they will probably assume they are alpha dog in their families and will act out with poor behavior. They are generally better with kids than the toy breeds are, as they are larger and can better handle a little roughhousing.
The Standard Poodle
Standard poodles were originally bred by the French for duck hunting. They tend to be active; they have the most energy of the three sizes. While still friendly, they are more reserved than the toy and miniature sizes, and prefer having a job to do. They are excellent in obedience competitions that involve retrieving and jumping, and are very agile. Standard poodles are the most intelligent of the breeds. They can be sensitive and neurotic if not paid attention to, however -- they require daily companionship. They make excellent watch dogs.
Brian McCracken lives in Portland, Ore., where he writes on pets and animal wildlife as well as a wide array of other topics, ranging from real estate to personal development.