Poodle is a breed of dog, believed to have originated in Germany as a water retriever. It appeared in various parts of the world long ago; bas-reliefs dating from the 1st century in southern Europe represent such an animal. Although the poodle has been particularly popular in France since the beginning of the 19th century, its intelligence and adaptability have made it a universal favorite.
Three varieties of the breed exist: the standard, which is 38 cm (15 in) or more in height at the shoulder and weighs 9 kg (20 lb) or more; the miniature, from 25 to 38 cm (10 to 15 in) high at the shoulder and weighing from 5 to 9 kg (12 to 20 lb); and the toy, which is 25 cm (10 in) or less at the shoulder and weighs under 5 kg (12 lb). The standard variety is used in the country as a water retriever, watchdog, and pet; the miniature and toy varieties are used as pets chiefly in urban surroundings. All three types have a moderately peaked skull; a long, straight muzzle; dark, oval-shaped eyes; ears that are set low and hang close to the head; a strong neck; a deep chest; straight forelegs and muscular hind legs; and a tail that is carried high. The dog has a woolly undercoat and a topcoat that consists either of wiry, curled hair, or long, silky hair hanging in cords. The dog may be of any solid color. The coat of the poodle is generally clipped in one of two principal styles, the Continental or the English saddle. The custom of clipping apparently originated as a means of facilitating swimming. In the Continental style, the hindquarters of the dog are shaved down to the skin, with rosettes of hair usually left on the hips and hocks. In the English saddle style, the hindquarters are clipped to leave a blanket of short hair. In both styles each leg of the Poodle is clipped, leaving only a bracelet of hair near the foot; the face and tail are also clipped, except for a pom-pom of hair at the end.