What Were Standard, Toy, and Miniature Poodles Bred for?


Though loved and praised by many for their signature fluffy hair and elegant prance, poodles are far more than meets the eye. Behind their famous and showy reputations, poodles possess oodles of talent and valuable skills helpful to their owners. There is no question poodles are extremely intelligent, but what exactly was this famous breed of dog originally bred for?

Standard poodles were originally bred for hunting, retrieving waterfowl from the water. Miniature and toy poodles were bred to be companion dogs in the home. While a poodle of any size can work, these dogs are commonly employed as service dogs, circus dogs, therapy dogs, or even as truffle hunters today.

Given this breed’s distinct regal persona, it’s easy to look past the fact that standard poodles are actually great hunting dogs and incredibly friendly as well! The poodle breed, in fact, is one of the oldest breeds of hunting dogs, which comes as no surprise given its immensely energetic spirit and athletic demeanor. 

What Reasons Were Poodles Originally Bred For?

It is believed that poodles were first bred by German soldiers looking to create a dog with good hunting capabilities. These soldiers wanted a dog that was tailored for hunting in water, thus, they created what is now known as, “the water retriever.” 

The poodle was developed as a water retriever and their distinctive hairstyles were initiated to increase the animal’s efficiency in the water.

Poodle – Britannica

What we know today as the poodle was first referred to as a water retriever based on the fact that when it would retrieve wild game from a river or lake. A poodle’s thick coat would allow it to seamlessly glide through the water, making it a very water-efficient breed of dog.

Given their often stoic appearance, one could easily assume that poodles aren’t necessarily a breed of dog keen on getting soaking wet, but that’s exactly what they were created for. poodles have an elegant way of carrying themselves. Even while hunting and water retrieving, they manage to do so gracefully.

Additionally, even when poodles return from the water, they still seem to keep that same majestic demeanor – frizzy hair and all! 

After the Germans began breeding the first standard poodles, this breed was brought to France and evolved over time. From this point forward, poodles began taking on new roles in addition to their water hunting ventures.

Have you ever wondered why poodles have such a playful, family-friendly demeanor? It’s because they participated in the circus of course! Well, not entirely, their behavior is due to a thing called selective breeding, but many like to think it was ALL due to their short acts in the circus. 

“The breed has been used for such diverse undertakings such as performing in circuses and hunting for truffles (scenting and digging up edible fungus).”

Poodle – Britannica

Who knew poodles had such a diverse background as far as the jobs they were first bred for? Not only are they intelligent and have a great appearance, but they are also pretty multifaceted. 

Poodles today serve mostly as friendly companions to their owners. After World War II, the breed’s use as hunting and water retrieving dogs slowly began to decline. For more information about the Standard Poodle and other related breeds visit the American Kennel Club’s overview of the original dog here

What Jobs Were Toy and Miniature Poodles Bred For?

If you’ve ever heard of the term, “lapdog,” you’ll know that it refers to a certain type of dog perfect for doing just that, sitting on one’s lap and being loved and groomed unconditionally. 

Toy Poodles, in particular, were treated as such back during the Renaissance when nobles desired a smaller version than the standard poodle that would serve as smaller companions. These smaller-sized dogs were perfect as companions and served almost as fashion accessories. At one point, toy poodles were even referred to as “sleeve dogs.”

“The tiny toy poodle’s main job was to serve as a companion to the nobility and wealthy merchant class during the renaissance. Well-to-do owners often carried their toy poodles in their large shirtsleeves, leading to the nickname ‘sleeve dogs.’”

Dogtime – Poodle

Sure, toy poodles tended to be treated as accessories, but can you believe nobles back then literally used toy poodles as accessories to keep their hands warm? In today’s world, these small dogs only serve to accessorize your lifestyle. 

To be clear, however, miniature poodles were not bred to be accessories to nobility. As previously mentioned, they were actually bred for those wanting similar characteristics of a standard poodle, but at a smaller size. With that request, the miniature poodle was born, and shortly afterward, the toy poodle came to be. 

Although toy and miniature poodles weren’t specially bred for hunting and water retrieving, they can be trained to do the same jobs as the standard poodle even at a smaller size. 

A Look At Poodle Jobs According To Size

Though all three sizes of poodle belong to the same breed, they each were created for performing different roles. Even today, the roles they were each originally bred still have influence over their behavior and physical characteristics. To serve as a guide to the roles each size performed, here is a table for further comparison.

Size of PoodleJobs poodles were bred for . . .
Standard Poodles* Hunting and Water Retrieving – Originally bred for hunting and water retrieving. When they were first bred, they weren’t as large in size compared to how they appear today.
* Circus Dogs, Truffle dogs, and Companion Dogs – Standard poodles also served as circus dogs, truffle dogs, and beloved companions to their owners and masters.
* Show Dogs and Service Dogs – Today, standard poodles still perform much of the many roles they did when the breed was first created. As the breed standard has evolved, they’ve included jobs such as show dogs, circus dogs, and service dogs to their growing list of jobs.
Miniature & Toy Poodles* Companion Dogs – Miniature and toy poodles were not bred for any particular job. Miniature poodles were bred before the toy poodle as a result of prospective owners wanting a smaller companion dog similar to the Standard Poodle.
* “sleeve dogs” – Although miniature and toy poodles weren’t directly bred, for this reason, these smaller dogs were used as “sleeve dogs” by wealthy nobles wanting to warm themselves up. 

How Poodle job roles Compare In Different Countries

It can’t be stressed enough how iconic the poodle breed is for its athleticism, overall intelligence, playful personality, and most importantly, its styled appearance. Having been first bred by the Germans, it’s easy to wonder how poodles from other parts of the world compare to and differ from each other in their appearance and the roles they perform.

The first thing to point out here is that contrary to popular belief, originally, poodles are not a French breed of dog. Not now, not back then, or ever. As mentioned before, the poodle is a German breed of dog, but have you ever wondered why poodles are so often associated with the French? 

Is it their regal appearance that compares to the regal streets of Paris? 

Unfortunately, it’s none of the above. Now that the idea of the poodle being a French breed of dog has been debunked, let’s further explore why it exists in the first place. Poodles are in fact not French; however, the breed does serve as the national dog of France. 

The French have been associated with the breed so much that over time, it was assumed that the “French Poodle” was indeed an actual breed. The reason for this is that French nobility became avidly fascinated with the breed’s naturally elegant demeanor, similar to the Corgi breed’s association with English nobility. 

In France and many other parts of the world, Poodles are still used as hunting and general canine companions. Aside from the color of their coats, Poodles from other countries don’t differ much from each other as far as what their standard appearance is like. 

Originally, poodles came in colors such as solid black, solid white, or a grey combination resulting from both colors. Multi-colored Poodles tend to be bred more frequently in Europe compared to the U.S. Oftentimes, multi-colored or particolored poodles are looked down upon in the U.S. because of the difficulty with tracing their ancestry. 

Job Roles Of Poodles In Modern Society

Poodles in modern society still perform many of the same roles they were first bred for including retrieving game, truffle hunting, companion dogs, and even service dogs. Standard poodles aren’t the only type of poodle, let’s not forget the toy and miniature poodles also play their own roles in modern society as well.

City living is a way of life adopted by many small dog owners, but it’s not ideal to house a standard poodle in a small apartment or similar living accommodation with limited space. In a scenario such as this, having a smaller-sized dog, such as a toy or miniature poodle. would be ideal.

With toy or miniature poodles, you don’t have to sacrifice the loving nature of a standard poodle as you get the same type of dog just on a smaller scale!

Toy and miniature poodles were specifically bred to serve as companion dogs and that’s just what they continue to do today. 

Standard poodles, though not used for hunting and retrieving as much as they originally were, still retain much of their hunting and water retrieving capabilities today. Their sharp intellectual abilities make them great working dogs and their natural love of the water makes them great for playing and swimming in water.

Poodles Working as Show Dogs

This role by far is one of the most popular for poodles and they make such great show dogs, it’s as if they were made to steal the spotlight! 

Poodle’s wow judges at dog shows all around the world with their iconic hairstyles, perfectly groomed fluffy coats, straight muzzle, and robust pompon tail. However, standard poodles aren’t the only ones stealing the show, toy and miniature poodles are also quite popular in dog shows.

Poodles, regardless of their size, have a naturally flamboyant coat, great for showcasing in dog shows, in addition to their naturally energetic prance.

When first bred, these appearance characteristics served the purpose of allowing the poodle to easily move through water when hunting and retrieving. The way their coat was styled was specifically for protecting certain areas of their body in harsh weather predicaments such as cold weather in which they had to hunt and perform other roles. 

Once again, it’s as if the poodle was meant to be a great show dog. It takes a great deal of training and grooming to give any dog a chance at the grand prize of being the best in show. If you’re interested in getting involved in the show dog business, the poodle is the way to go.

For more information about the Poodle and its role in dog shows, visit the Poodle Club of America’s page here for more information. They are one of the many organizations dedicated to the poodle breed in America and are avidly involved in dog shows.

Recently, Siba, a Standard Poodle, came in first place at the Westminster Dog Show. This is the first time in almost thirty years that a Standard Poodle has done so. Click here to read more about this iconic win.

Poodles Working as Service Dogs

Poodles make great service dogs due to their calm and gentle demeanor, ability to perform assigned tasks, and intelligent nature. If trained properly, poodles make excellent service dogs for individuals requiring physical or emotional support. 

There are many things you should consider when looking to train a poodle as a service dog including how and where you will train the dog, the size of the dog, and the dog’s capabilities as well. Although poodles are great companions, it’s important to remember that their role as service dogs is to help ease the daily struggles of their owners.

Poodles have a great gentle temperament perfect for working with other dogs as well as humans and best of all, they are highly trainable. Before utilizing them as such, poodles should be enrolled in a training course specifically designed for service dogs in order to become certified service pets. 

For more information about where to receive specialized training for service dogs and how to certify your poodle as a service dog, visit here

How and Where to Purchase A Working Poodle

If this noble and intelligent breed appeals to you, you may be wondering how one goes about buying a poodle and which way is the best way to do so. Is it better to buy from a trusted breeder rather than a pet shelter? At what age is the best to buy or adopt a Poodle? How much does a Poodle cost? 

These are all questions you should consider before purchasing a Poodle.

The best approach to buying a poodle is to purchase from a reputable breeder. Additionally, be sure to identify how much you’re willing to spend as well.

While poodles are regal; their much-beloved demeanor often comes with a steep price tag. standard poodles cost anywhere between $700 up to $5000, while Miniature and Toy Poodles cost between $1,000 to $2,500.

Purchusing A Working Poodle From A Breeder Vs Elsewhere

The American Kennel Club, a well-renowned club on all things canine, has been around for 135 years and is host to the annual American Kennel Club dog show. Purebred dogs can be registered with and purchased through professional breeders registered with the club as well. You can visit the link here

You’ll also be happy to know that under each breeder profile, there’s a notification for if and when puppies are available for purchase. On the marketplace section of their website, you can find breeders in the U.S. that specialize in the breed you are interested in buying. 

Some breeders have been in the business for years and have even gone on to produce big winners in national dog shows around the country and internationally. Purchasing a poodle with intent to participate in dog shows requires a poodle to be purebred, meaning that both of the dogs used in the breeding process must be of purebred descent. 

Dog experts recommend purchasing a poodle from a well-known breeder who specializes in the poodle breed. This is most likely to ensure ethical breeding practices and transparency when purchasing your new dog.

With buying from a pet shop or puppy mill, you may not be able to verify the dog’s medical and family history as far as genetics, behavior, and other factors that may affect the dog’s overall health and temperament. There is so much more that goes into breeding than just crossing two dogs together. 

It is possible to adopt a purebred poodle from an animal shelter or humane society, although this often happens on only rare occasions. There are occasionally cases in which a poodle was given up as a result of behavioral problems, not being a good fit with its original adoptive family, or simply because it was no longer wanted. 

Whichever the case, be sure to try and interact with the dog before making a decision, especially if you’re adopting an older dog. For more information about buying or adopting a poodle, visit these links below:

Buying Or Adopting A Standard Poodle

Questions To Ask A Standard Poodle Breeder

Brent Hartman

I'm Brent Hartman. I've been a dog lover my entire life and have owned many animals over the years. When my black lab Angus passed away, I was looking for another friend to share my life with. As a result of my research, I've come to love poodles and wanted to share some of what I've learned with you. Whether you're looking to adopt a poodle, or already own one, I created Poodle report to be the ultimate guide to help you find the answers you need.

Recent Posts