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Is a Poodle a Hunting Dog? The Surprising Answer!

Poodles consistently rank among the most popular dogs, no matter their size. They come in multiple sizes and colors, but they all share the same curly coat. Poodles are considered to be high-maintenance dogs that are often associated with the quintessential Poodle haircut that features balls on the ankles, ears, and tail. Some people might think this haircut is somewhat silly, while others will defend it to their dying day.

Regardless, many people underestimate Poodles and how active and fun these dogs can be. Many people are also surprised when the question of if Poodles are hunting dogs even comes up. Those people might be even more surprised to know that the Poodle does have a hunting history.


History of the Poodle

Poodles were historically used as water dogs for hunting, although many people still use this breed for hunting today. This primarily refers to the standard Poodle, though, which is the largest Poodle variety.

Toy and miniature Poodles are not only a younger version of the breed, but they are also less likely to be effective in a hunting setting due to their small size. The Poodle breed has existed at least since the Middle Ages, but it may be older. Its popularity with European nobles allowed the breed to be preserved and improved over time.

The breed’s name comes from the German word “pudeling”, which means “splashing in water”, speaking to the breed’s use as water dogs. This breed was not used for the purposes of tracking, running down, or fighting prey for hunting, but instead was used primarily for retrieving downed game in watery settings.

Originally, the Poodle’s use was similar to today’s Labrador and Golden Retrievers. In fact, people who still rely on the breed as hunting companions often say that the Poodle can hunt just as well as retrievers.

What Makes Poodles Good Hunting Dogs?

Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

There are multiple reasons that the standard Poodle is an exceptional hunting dog. One of the most loved qualities of the Poodle is its high intelligence and excellent trainability. Poodles often rank in the top five breeds on intelligence tests, usually coming in second to the border collie. These dogs are eager to please and learn quickly, and they are far higher energy dogs than many people realize.

They are agile, strong, lithe dogs that are not only good hunters, but also excellent companions for dog sports, hiking, jogging, and just about any other activity. In hunting situations involving marshes and obstacles, the Poodle is often the best option because of its athleticism. The AKC ranks Poodles among the 15 most active dog breeds, so it’s important not to underestimate the activity needs of this breed.

The Poodle Coat

Like other water dog breeds, the Poodle has a water-resistant coat that keeps their skin protected and insulated, even in cold water. They also are a low-shedding dog breed, which makes them ideal companions in the home and also means that your Poodle is unlikely to walk around with tufts of shed stuck in their coat that’s driving you nuts (looking at you, Labradors).

Oh, and the Pom-Pom Poodle cut? It serves a very important purpose of helping to better insulate the Poodle’s vital organs, as well as make them more effective swimmers. This haircut became popular in France under King Louis XVI in the 18th century but has continued to show up on the breed even today. Their dense coat does require routine brushing and care to maintain, but if kept clean and brushed, it can be relatively easy to care for.

The Poodle Temperament

Obedient purebred Poodle standing on rocky cliff near sea
Image Credit: Skyler Ewing, Pexels

Because the Poodle breed was developed for hunting and not companionship purposes, this breed isn’t the most social. They can be standoffish and shy with strangers, although they usually will warm up given time and patience.

They are fiercely loyal dogs that love their people, although the breed is often not a top pick for homes with children, especially small children and children that frequently have friends over to visit. Some people feel that standard Poodles are the most standoffish and least friendly of the three Poodle sizes, but this is likely because of their closer relationship to hunting instead of companionship.

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Did you know that the Poodle was originally bred to hunt? These dogs are exceptional hunters, even today, but the standard Poodle is far more effective and trainable for hunting than the miniature and toy Poodle breeds are. This is simply due to the smaller varieties’ relatively recent creation and breeding stock bred for companionship. However, most Poodles are highly intelligent dogs that are loyal to their people and may be standoffish with strangers.

Featured Image Credit: Janine Reedeker, Shutterstock

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