Yesterday a Standard Poodle won “Supreme Champion 2014”. Now as an owner of a 18 month old Standard Poodle, you’d think we would be well chuffed that our breed is now top dog? Well no actually, I’m very disappointed. I watched the final selection and Ricky the Poodle looked like a bizarre aberration amongst all the other “normal” breeds, who didn’t require the strangest hair-do imaginable, in order to win.
Whilst I’m sure Ricky is genetically 100% top mutt and a fantastically loveable dog, why oh why does the professional show dog world feel its necessary to display a dog with a grooming style that bares no resemblance to the average poodle in the UK or anywhere else for that matter.
I must point out that I’m no dog expert, but I am an average bloke who happens to love his dog and the breed. I also understand the reason why the working poodle breed had certain grooming cuts in its distant past. But where we are now it seems to me, is at the extreme end of the spectrum and its totally unnecessary. Yesterdays win gives poodle show breeders a stamp of approval to carry on….I worry this will only get worse, remember the genetic issues a few years ago, that resulted in the BBC pulling the plug on their coverage, perhaps that mindset still exists?
I believe the selection of this dog as the winner will further lower its popularity in the UK as a choice for a family pet and that is extremely sad. We are a nation of dog-lovers, but the poodle always ends up being discarded to the “Freak Show” category, because of the publics negative perception of the extreme grooming that the dog show circuit seems to encourage. Its not required and spoils the popularity of a great breed of dog. If your poodle is routinely in and out of water, being utilised as a working retriever then fair enough, build up the hair around the vital organs, but I do doubt if a working dog would look anything like Ricky. Indeed I would wager Ricky has never even seen a dead duck floating in a reed bed, never mind actually being required to retrieve it.
The result yesterday will only reinforce the perception of the breed as ostentatious, a powder puff dog, a breed the average person would be embarrassed to walk down the street with. I think it will also perversely exacerbate the breeding of the cookerpoo, labradoodle, spoodle and various other cross-breeds that have emerged as the popularity of the poodle is further destroyed by the bizarre media images of extreme poodle styling, so beloved by certain sections of the dog show fraternity.
So what about a normal poodle, a rare dog without the bizarre styling. What are they like? Well Muttley our standard is about 18 months old, we’ve had him since a pup. He’s big, handsome, boisterous and very loveable. He’s intelligent, quick to learn and very very fit. In terms of grooming he is quite low maintenance. He doesn’t moult which is a huge plus point and we keep his hair fairly short depending on the time of the year/temperature. He gets brushed most days, and professionally cut every 2-3 months. We don’t ask for any specific cut, but do stipulate, nothing fancy, a level cut, no pom-poms or any back combing.
We walk him every day 3-5kms, including hard exercise and that really is the biggest commitment, otherwise they can get bored quickly. Basically a loyal, fit active companion, who loves human interaction and touch. When we meet other walkers they almost always stop and chat. Normally the comments will be along the lines of…..
1. Lovely to see a poodle, a rare dog these days, you never see them about do you?
2. Wow, he looks great, I hate all those fancy cuts.
3. Is that a Labradoodle?
4. He looks like a proper dog!
Maybe sometime in the future, somewhere a show breeder will make a stand and just show the dog as it would be in the average home, just like the spaniels, the labs and all the other much-loved breeds.