Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Owning Hunting Poodle Not For Faint Of Heart

Dixie in an AKC Junior Hunter Test

Several years ago Fast Pup Dog Training was asked to take a Standard Poodle in for a board-and-train to get her jump-started for her hunting training.  As a hunting retriever trainer, Kate Johansson was thrilled to help out.  Dixie was a young, energetic dog who had great potential for the hunting-retrieving game.

Having Dixie with us on a daily basis, we soon realized from several conversations we had with other clients that Poodles are not taken seriously as working dogs by many people.  The comments and reactions we got when Dixie came off the truck were sometimes amazing--even snarky.  "You have GOT to be kidding!" was a common reaction upon seeing this dog.

Recently, Dixie and Gail came to help out at the Tacoma Fall Home And Remodeling Show, where Fast Pup Dog Training had the dogs on display.  Dixie was a big hit with most of the patrons of the show.  However, while in the minority, there were a few negative comments about her Poodle looks compared to the Labrador Retrievers especially as hunting dogs.  We were reminded once again that Poodles and their clip styles do inspire controversy in the world of hunting dogs. Gail and Dixie have endured many mean spirited remarks at hunt tests while competing for their title.

For people who think of a hunting retriever as a Labrador Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, or Golden Retriever, the idea of a curly coated dog (who must be groomed regularly) being used as a hunting partner seems far-fetched.  Especially if the dog is being groomed for the show ring, which requires grooming that seems fairly extreme to most hunters.

Poodles can make excellent hunting dogs.  We have trained with a number of Poodles over the years and have found them to be great markers, highly intelligent and eager to please.  Dixie went on to earn her AKC Junior Hunter title after going back to her owner Gail. 

The Poodle breed is thought to originate in Germany as a gun dog or duck dog.  Because they lack a second coat and because their coat grows continuously, the coat of a Poodle is referred to as hair instead of fur.  The hair must be kept groomed for the dog's entire life.  Over the years groomers have come up with all sorts of lavish designs for the hair of the Poodle.  And perhaps the images of the dogs in the show ring with their Continental or Scandinavian clips have led some hunters and outdoorsmen to have a certain disdain for the dogs.

Dixie is shown in the picture above with a "modified" Continental clip.  (Modified, meaning that it is a shorter, more practical version of a clip for hunting situations.) The clip that Dixie now sports was specifically designed throughout history to help the dog stay warm in water.  Her clip maintains a design where a "jacket" of slightly longer hair is left over her chest and back to protect her heart and lungs from the cold water, "bracelets" or "pompoms" around her ankles, "rosettes" over her hips and a little topnot of hair on her head to keep her joints and head warm.  Her legs are shaved to aid in 'stronger swimming ability. 

Since the hair of the Poodle does not shed, the dogs are ideal companions for a hunter who wants a dog that won't set off allergic reactions to fur. 

If you are thinking of getting a Poodle for hunting it is important to find a breeder who selects for excellent temperament and retrieving instinct in their dogs.  Visit the Versatility In Poodles website to research more about these great dogs.  In the Pacific Northwest, Jac Harbour of Tudorose Poodles is a well known and respected breeder of gun-dog quality Poodles.


the 4 Bs said...

i have 3 standard poodles and you don't have to convince me of their virtues and abilities. my dogs are great retrievers on water and land. all they retrieve are tennis balls, but we do know a poodle who is used for hunting.

people who criticize poodles for their hair styles are probably the same people who like to tell 'blonde' jokes.

i'll check back to you site. i always enjoy reading about poodles and their adventures. i'll also link to your site, if that's okay.

peg (and the 4Bs) Bailey, Baxter, Brody & Benson

Fast Pup Dog Training said...

Hey Peg:

I would love it if you would link to our blog site. Thanks for commenting and checking out the blog!

Kate Johansson

Aimee said...

I'm reading your post a few years down the road, but wanted to send a belated "thanks!" for your article. I primarily had Labs and German Shepherds over the years, until my 1st Standard Poodle, Tilly, who is now 4. ... I'm sold. She's easily the most intelligent loyal athletic dog I've ever owned! ... and I must say I don't miss the no shedding & don't mind the grooming at all. I just keep her in a modified German clip that I'm able to do myself - makes for easier clean-up of burrs foxtails and ticks in the field, and quicker dry out of the river.
It always amazes me how few people are aware of what brilliant fun beautiful athletes these dogs are.
Their versatility is mind-blowing! hunting - service - agility - therapy - obedience - herding - search & rescue... you name it.

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