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Known as the Caniche, or "duck dog" in France, the Poodle breed orginated as a duck hunter in Germany where the word "pudelin" (meaning splashing in water) became associated with the Poodle. The Standard Poodle was known as a retrieving water dog over 400 years ago. With a crisp, curly coat as protection against the elements, superlative swimming ability, and a high level of intelligence, the Poodle is known to be a magnificent retriever. Its flamboyant look served to allow the breed free range of movement in the water, but also protect its body from the cold. They shaved the legs, hips, and tail, leaving the chest, hips, and leg joints with fur. The rounded tufts on the legs, hips, and tail tip are called pompons.

Today, poodles are known to be companion dogs because of their kind demeanor and love of playing games. A Standard Poodle does best in a family environment that is stable, orderly, and relaxed, and likes to stick close to their family. The Poodle is also ranked as the second most intelligent dog, making it highly successful in many dog sports and activites such as agility, obedience, tracking and herding, circus performers, or assistance dogs.