The June/July issue of Gun Dog magazine landed in my mailbox last week with an intriguing cover teaser: "Making a Comeback: The Standard Poodle." The author of the article, James B. Spencer, comes out swinging against the thought running through most of your minds right now:
"Poodles hunt? You gotta be kiddin' me!"
Spencer explains there are in fact three different sizes of poodles; toy, miniature and standard. Although AKC categorizes all poodles into the non-sporting group, the standard poodle does in fact have a long hunting history. Spencer writes that standard poodles have been a popular breed of bird dog since Middle Age times.
Here are a few key nuggets about the standard poodle:
- Males weigh 45 to 60 pounds, while females tend to be a bit lighter at 40 to 50 pounds.
- They are lean and muscular with boundless energy and great stamina.
- Most common coat color is black, but some are gray, brown, apricot or white.
- A standard poodle's coat doesn't shed and is hypoallergenic.
- Hunters with poodles typically trim their dog's coats down to one inch long all over for easier post-field grooming.
- Although stereotyped as a trick dog, standard poodles are very smart and easy to train for hunting.
- Their temperament is friendly and eager to please.
- The standard poodle hunts as a flusher and retriever.
- In 1881, Germans bred the standard poodle with an English pointer to create the pointing breed known today as the Pudelpointer.
- Standard poodles can be successfully used to hunt waterfowl or upland.
Personally, I have only hunted with a standard poodle on one occasion. Although the pup was a mere eight months old during that particular hunt, I was impressed by the dog's natural ability, interest in birds, enthusiasm to retrieve and overall obedience. In fact, I know two Pheasants Forever colleagues with standard poodles as their hunting dogs.
So tell me, have you hunted birds behind a standard poodle? How did the pup stack up as a bird dog?
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever's Vice President of Marketing.