by Chad Ingraham
by Chad Ingraham

Poodles have gotten a bad rap. Not only were these super-smart pups once renowned as water-fowl retrievers, but their much maligned coifs were job related. The natural coats of standard “pudels” — German for “splashes in water” — are thick and water absorbent. To help the dogs move more swiftly through water, portions of fur were shaved, with the chest and vital organs left covered to protect them from the cold. A topknot allowed the owner to tie a strip of colored cloth to the head, the better to spot the speedy retriever from a distance.

And, I might add, poodles are hypoallergenic — at least as much as any dog can be.

But there’s no way the Obama family could have gotten a poodle. They’re frou frou. French. The “freedom fries” crowd would have had a field day. In contrast, there’s not much to say about PWDs — how many people had even heard of them pre-Bo? — or about the country they come from. Since the days of Henry the Navigator, Portugal has kept a pretty low profile. What’s not to like about fishing villages, sardines and Port?

To mark the end of April and to bookend my first post, of Bo, I’d like to share a picture of a tastefully coiffed and attired poodle who looks a bit like a certain presidential dog. You coulda been a contender, baby, if it wasn’t for anti-poodle prejudice.

4 thoughts on “Of poodles and Portuguese water dogs”

  1. I grew up with a white poodle — Sam. He was never cut or coifed like a poodle. My mother would feed Sam the same food she fed us. He dined on scrambled eggs, chicken with rice, chopped liver, etc. He would lay by the oven when the liver was baking.

    When we ate spaghetti and meatballs so did Sam. She would put a little t-shirt on him which would be splattered with sauce. His dear white face would also have saucy red whiskers.

    I miss Sam. He lived to be 15 years old. I was already living away from home when he died but remember hearing my father cry on the phone, something he never did.

  2. Thank you for defending the wonderful poodle, and explaining the traditional cut. Wish the Obamas could have gotten a poodle (hypoallergenic – have hair, not fur, correct?) but I agree that the image is too ‘fancy.’
    Love my old poodle, Lacey, a rescue dog. She is about 16 years old. I also had a poodle when I was growing up. They are smart, loving, fun dogs!

  3. I grew up with GSDs and Poodles. Wonderful, smart, athletic and loyal dogs, both. I am always surprised that most people don’t know that the Poodle is, originally (from the human directive standpoint), a birding dog. During the Victorian era, the breed specifications we’ve become accustomed to, were formulated. Some of these specs were truly harmful to the dogs targeted for (re-)design. I.E. – “bull dogs” … Victorian specs bred all boxer/bull dog types toward the smashed face type (can’t breath well) and can’t run well (hobbled, bowlegged action).
    On a much gentler side, they mandated a solid color for the Poodle (not a natural state) with a solid black eye requirement.
    As I understand it, the regulations will be “allowing” the bulldog types to grow back into their natural and necessary selves. I hope so.
    – Joe Poodle

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