This section is from the book "British Dogs, Their Points, Selection, And Show Preparation", by W. D. Drury. Also available from Amazon: British Dogs: Their Points, Selection And Show Preparation.
It is strongly recommended by the Poodle Club that only one-third of the body be clipped or shaved, and that the hair be left on the forehead.
STANDARD OF VALUE OF POINTS
Head and Ears .............
Eyes and Expression ..........
Neck and Shoulders............
Shape of Body, Loins, Back, and Carriage of Stern .........
Legs and Feet ............
Condition, Bone, and Muscle ...........
Colour and Texture of Coat ..........
General Appearance and Movement ..........
Total • • • • • • • • •
As regards choice of a Poodle, much depends on the individual taste of the intending buyer, both as to the sort wished for and the purpose for which it is required. There are few varieties of dogs which give a wider scope for choice than is afforded by the Poodle, as they can be had of every size, from quite 70 lb. to 3lb. or 41b. in weight, with coats a mass of small, tight curls almost as close and fine as on Retrievers and Water-spaniels, or with long, hanging ringlets sweeping the ground as they walk along, or with all the unshaved parts covered in soft, fluffy hair. The last named, it may be added, is a manipulated, and not a natural, condition of the coat. As to which of these varieties should be decided upon is a matter for the individual.
When the size of the intended purchase is settled, for which purpose the purchaser should make a point of seeing, if possible, the parents and grandparents of the puppies, select one with a head fairly long for its age, and narrow across the skull, with lengthy ears, fine in texture of skin and hair, and set on low, close fitting to the sides of head, straight on its legs, muscular in its limbs, with a short back and gaily carried tail, but not curling over the back. The eyes should be dark and intelligent-looking, and there should be a general appearance of brightness and activity. A better idea could be formed of those from four to six months old than when younger. Beyond a little trimming of the hair about the face and feet, it is not advisable to do much actual clipping or shaving until after the puppy is six months old. An amateur should not attempt to prepare specimens for show until he or she has seen the work done by an expert, as more could be learnt in this way in one hour than from any amount of written directions.
It is thought by some breeders and fanciers that there is but one sort of coat for all Poodles; but without going into this question, the writer is convinced that, although he has known many instances in which specimens have been successfully exhibited with Corded, Curly, and Fluffy coats, these are the exceptions rather than the rule. There are some coats that seem specially to lend themselves to one or the other of these, so that the best and most effective treatment of the coats must depend in some measure on the individual specimen.
In the present day clipping machines have been brought to such perfection that nearly all the work may be done with one of them, assisted by a sharp pair of scissors; but before actual shaving of any parts with a razor is attempted, an owner should see the way that it is done by an expert. Of course, the work should be performed in a warm room, except during summer, and the subject should be protected from taking cold before being used to the loss of coat; this may be done with a coat or jacket made in the same way as for horses and Greyhounds, to slip over the head, and secured with a band round the waist, buttoned or tied underneath to keep it in place.
It is not necessary to say anything about the amount of clipping or shaving, as so much depends on the taste of the clipper, the character of the animal, and its size, that it will not be the same in all cases. The parts usually left bare are the face, except for a moustache and an "imperial," the chin, and the lower jaws; the back, from back of the shoulders to the tail, except some bosses of hair on the sides of the thighs ; the tail, except two or more circles of hair on it and at its end; the legs, with one or more circles of hair round the ankles and higher up. In a general way also the sides and belly are clipped clean, giving a leonine character to the whole of the trimming of the hair.
As regards colour, this opens up a wide question. There are many beautiful Poodles of all the colours, but speaking from experience, perhaps the whites are the most difficult to keep in form. They not only have all the vicissitudes common to the variety, but are liable to become soiled or tinted in colour, and require ceaseless attention to keep them up to the mark.
Browns, reds, blues, and greys are all very nice in their way, and often very beautiful; they seem particularly suited as companions and pets for ladies. They are, however, not quite as saleable as the whites and blacks, as the general public have hardly got used to them yet as true Poodles colours. They are becoming more popular every year, and have greatly improved in quality and type since they were introduced ; but when the classes are for "Poodles, any variety," they have to put their best feet foremost to be placed over good specimens either white or black.
Any one with a desire to take up these interesting and highly intelligent dogs would be well advised to, at any rate, commence with a black, of course taking care that it is black, and, as before stated, if possible seeing the parents. Any mixture of other tints on any part of the coat will greatly depreciate the value of a specimen from a fancier's point of view. There are even different shades of black itself; the shade most preferred in Poodles is a glossy, bright, intense, bluish-black, without any tendency to rustiness, which is too often seen in some of the coats, and handicap such specimens in the show-ring.
There is an offshoot of the Poodle that is turned to good account as a truffle hunter. The actual constituents of the little dog that one occasionally meets with in truffle "country" are not known; but it is fairly safe to say that he partakes largely of Poodle and Terrier. In weight he is little above that of a decent Fox-terrier, and in colour variable. Black-and-white, white with liver markings, with black mouth and lips are the colours most liked. There is little or no tail. In Wilts, Hants, and Dorset these dogs are oftenest found; but the owners are very chary about parting with them, as they constitute their living. As is well known, from November onwards to Christmas prices for the underground fungi popularly called truffles are very high, and given a truffle country - chalky soil and plenty of oak and beech trees - and a well-trained dog, success should attend the efforts of the hunter.
As the dogs are often employed upon estates much game preserved, and early and late, they necessarily have to be carefully broken as well as trained to their legitimate work, while the owner must of course be above suspicion. So far these dogs have not made their appearance at shows; but they would undoubtedly prove an interesting exhibit, especially too if they could be shown at work.
To train a dog with a good nose to such work should not be difficult. The first thing, of course, is to get an obedient dog, and next to get him to retrieve small objects. This done, accustom him to the peculiar smell of the fungus, and also to fetch it when thrown. Next, the truffle should be lightly buried where the dog cannot see it, and the animal be told to seek. Gradually the dog will get accustomed to the peculiar scent given off by the truffle, and will find it when buried. The depth at which the fungus should be buried will be increased until the dog is able to "point" the place, at say 4m. to 6in., the latter representing perhaps the maximum depth at which the esculent would be found growing. If a young dog could be allowed to work with an expert animal, of course the lessons would be still more readily imparted. The truffle hunter proper, once the dog has indicated a place, removes the fungus by means of a fork.