The Corded Poodle: Not So New

It comes as a surprise to a few people outside the dog fancy that corded Poodles are not new. In the 1800s, a top winning dog in England was a corded Poodle named, “Achilles.” In fact, Achilles was the first Poodle to earn a championship in England.  

The Kennel Club of England had registered its first Poodle in 1874,  and the breed standard set by the Poodle Club in England in 1886 made mention of the corded coat: “Coat: Very profuse and of good texture; if corded, hanging in tight even cords.”  Around this time, Poodles of all sizes and coat types were shown in the same classes, though corded Poodles were exempt from English Kennel Club rules that applied to the preparation of dogs for exhibit in the 1800s. We suspect this was in reference to a rule still in place today about applying a foreign substance to a dog’s coat, or altering its appearance by artificial means. In the 1800s,  it was thought necessary to oil the cords of a corded Poodle, or even apply vaseline to it (Vaseline was invented in 1872) because coats were more brittle, and thus, corded Poodles got a free pass. 

Sometime between 1903 and 1906, Poodles in the UK were divided into corded and non-corded divisions at dog shows. Early writers treated the curly coated Poodles as separate from the corded varieties as evidenced by what they wrote. One author credited Russia with the origin of the corded Poodle, but Dr Fritz Inger, a German authority, believed the Poodle originated in Africa, either in Morocco or Algiers, and that the corded varieties had a Spanish, Portuguese or Greek origin.  Little wonder, then, that there were those fanciers who believed that corded Poodles were purebreds, all else were cross-breeds. 

Hardly a “European thing,” some corded Poodles did come to the United States to exhibit at dog shows in the 1890s, but they weren’t as popular as their curly coated counterparts and never caught on. That said, there is poor information about corded Poodles even today. We came across this gem: “Some corded Poodles aren’t given baths to avoid the tangling of the coils. Given all these complications to keep the coat clean, corded Poodles almost always smell and are constantly dirty and greasy; they also have a tendency of housing insects. “


There was nothing unpleasant about the gorgeous dog that graced the cover of the July 2000 issue of AKC Gazette, a Poodle named “Carley,” aka Ch. Somerset Sweet Success owned by Charla Gordon and shown by Dennis McCoy.

A corded Poodle is no different from a Puli or Komondor with regards to coat care. A dirty long coated dog will smell, a clean one won’t. They are bathed in soapy water, and the cords don’t “untangle.” Furthermore, the only insect we ever found in our corded dog’s coat was a Volkswagon Beetle matchbox card that got tangled up in a cord.


7 thoughts on “The Corded Poodle: Not So New”

  1. Years ago I saw my first corded poodle….Ch. Hasting’s 10. I was entranced.

  2. I met a grand & gorgeous corded Standard Poodle named Napoleon Bonaparte Therapy Dog. He was stunning! I fell in love with his sweet disposition! He was absolutely a winner in every way!

  3. How would you like all your hair pulling in knots to look for what, ignorant people!

    • As the owners of a corded breed, Debra, we’re either misunderstanding your note, or fear that you are the ignorant one if you think that cords “hurt” the dog wearing them. Our apologies if it’s the former, but if it’s the latter, you should know that a corded coat IS the natural coat for the Puli, Komondor, and Poodle. Left alone, these double coats form mats, and with maturity, the mats grow longer and thinner forming cords. It’s nature’s way of providing temperature regulation while affording agility, as well as predator control in the case of herding dogs.

  4. Love, love, love the look. Looking for suggestions as to the best instructional offerings of cording? Thanks!

    • Joy, there are a number of You Tube videos addressing the process of cording a Poodle, though we don’t agree with many of them because they mention vaseline or “back teasing” a mat to form a cord. This is one of the better ones which we believe shows RainBear Mahoney splitting cords on a Poodle named “Parker.” You can see it here:

      We also came across a book on how to cord a Poodle for a show ring. We’ve not read it, but you can find it here:

      You don’t mention the age of your dog, and that can influence how you go about cording his coat, but cording the coat is a very natural process that happens when the coat is left to mat after a bath. Putting the dog on his or her side on a toweled padded grooming table allows you to “split” apart the mats – and admittedly, it’s a battle in the beginning because the coat wants to mat, but over time, the mats will stay separated. Check out the videos and see if they are of any help?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *