The Poodle got its name from the German word, “pudel” meaning to splash in water, referring to the Poodle’s original job as a water retrieving dog. For the benefit of folks who might not already know this, the origins of the Poodle’s “fancy” hair trimming is rooted in practicality.
Extra coat was removed from the dog to reduce drag and extra weight in the water. With the bottom half of its body shaved, the dog was more buoyant and could swim more freely. Coat was left over the joints to keep them warm and help prevent rheumatism, while long hair was left over the torso keep vital organs warm in cold water. Shaving facial around the Poodle’s mouth allowed the dog to retrieve birds freely, while tying the dog’s into a “top knot” kept hair out of his eyes. Hunters came to tie colorful ribbons on these knots to help them identify their dogs from a distance.
Over time, Poodle trims evolved. The breed became especially popular under the reign of Louis XV in France where many of the trims got their start. Some of these styles tried to duplicate the ornate pompadours worm by French men and women of the day.
Human nature being what it is, we’ve toyed with hair both in ourselves and our dogs, but never forget when seeing a lovely Poodle that their hairstyle has a historical purpose.
A hand painted Poodle statuette made by Royal Doulton in the 1950s