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White Poodle: Facts, Origin & History (With Pictures)

Chelsea Mortensen Profile Picture

By Chelsea Mortensen

a white standard poodle with hair accessories

There are few dogs so iconic as a white Poodle. Poodles are among the most popular breeds in the United States, adored for their spunk, beauty, and fluffy, low-shedding coats. With a fancy haircut and a rhinestone collar, a white Poodle looks at home among divas and superstars, but these dogs are just as happy splashing in mud puddles as a family pet.

Poodles are intelligent, active dogs that have a history going back hundreds of years to their origin in Western Europe. Read on to learn a little more about this famous breed!

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The Earliest Records of White Poodles in History

The history of Poodles goes back centuries. It’s believed that the first Poodle ancestors split off from other dogs in Germany in the Middle Ages. They were definitely around by the 1600s when the first Poodle-type dogs showed up in art. Poodles were bred as water dogs, an ancestor of modern retrievers. Hunters going after waterfowl or other game in wet, marshy areas would use Poodles to retrieve fallen birds so they could keep their feet dry. Water dogs also sometimes flush out game for their owners.

This origin explains a lot about Poodles today. Water dogs needed to be quick, intelligent, and obedient—all traits that Poodles still have. Poodles also have a deep love of swimming and playing in water. Despite their chic reputation, modern Poodles still owe a lot to their water dog roots. Speaking of roots, white Poodles go back just as far. Originally, Poodles came in three colors—white, black, and brown. Over time, brown Poodles have become less common and other colors were bred into the breed, but a pure white Poodle has always been a popular choice of color.

white standard poodle on a leash
Image Credit: evgenii mitroshin, Shutterstock

Formal Recognition of White Poodles

Poodles were first bred as help for hunters, but they didn’t stay that way. During the 19th century, dogs became much more popular as pets and companions, not just working animals. And before long, the first kennel clubs introduced modern show dogs, where breeders worked to create standardized breeds.

Poodles were among the first breeds recognized by most dog breed associations. The Kennel Club of the UK recognized Poodles as a breed right back in 1874, including white as one of the acceptable colors. In 1886, only two years after its founding, the American Kennel Club added the breed to their list as well. Over the years, Poodles began to stand out in all areas. By the 1920s, these dogs were regular winners of Best in Show. Their intelligence and obedience also made them strong contenders in agility and obedience shows.

How White Poodles Gained Popularity

Even though Poodles were well recognized in show rings, the breed didn’t stand out in popularity just yet. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the breed changed from a moderately popular choice to a sensation. In 1949, the AKC records show that there were about 2,000 registered Poodles in America—a respectable number. But ten years down the road, Poodles were the most popular breed in America with nearly 60,000 registered. The breed stayed at the top of the charts until the 1980s, and white Poodles were always among the most popular colors.

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Top 3 Unique Facts About White Poodles

1. “Poodle cut” hair had a practical purpose.

The elaborate Poodle hairdos you see from time to time might be over the top, but the mix of long and short hair that many Poodles actually started with function, not fashion. The longer hair on the Poodle’s head and chest kept them warm in cold water, while the shaved back half and legs let them keep a little cleaner and swim more efficiently. This half-shaved look became fancier in the 1950s when electric razors and hair dryers opened up all sorts of possibilities.

White Poodle
Image Credit: Chili71, Pixabay

2. A team of “sled Poodles” once finished the Iditarod.

The Iditarod is a long-distance sled dog race where teams pull sleds for hundreds of miles through the Alaskan snow—no small feat for Huskies, let alone Poodles! Today, famous sled dog races like the Iditarod require dog teams to be made up of dogs bred for cold weather, but that wasn’t always the case. In 1988, a man named John Suter decided to train a team of Poodles to compete. This didn’t end up going so well—the Poodle team did finish the race, but many of them ended up with frozen paws and matted hair. The race organizers decided to limit breeds in the future to protect future dogs.

3. Poodles come in mini and toy—but “teacup” is still a ways away.

Poodles come in all sorts of sizes, from 60+ pound standard Poodles down to only 5–6 pounds. The smallest Poodles are generally called “Toy Poodles,” but sometimes you’ll see “teacup” Poodles advertised as well.

These Poodles are supposed to be bred to weigh less than 6 pounds when fully grown—just tiny! But even though Poodles that small do exist, there isn’t a standardized teacup line yet. All attempts to create a gene pool of just the smallest of the small have led to health issues, so it’s not yet possible to consistently produce teacup Poodles.

poodle on a leash
Image Credit: AV_Photographer, Pixabay

Does a White Poodle Make a Good Pet?

White Poodles are great pets for all types of owners, but they are a big commitment. These dogs make great family pets because they are so social, but they’ll also be happy living with individuals. Their coats need regular trimming but are fairly low maintenance when kept short, and they’re ideal for those with mild allergies because of their lack of shedding.

Poodles are very active and energetic, so they need a lot of exercise, especially in a small space. They also need a lot of social interaction and mental stimulation. Getting a Miniature or Toy Poodle will cut down on the intensity of exercise, but Poodles of all sizes still need to be engaged and excited throughout the day.

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Final Thoughts

With centuries of breeding to set them apart, white Poodles are pretty special. These beautiful dogs are a great combination of looks, brains, and personalities that have won over hearts (and show judges) for centuries. Whether they’re on the big screen or playing in your backyard, a white Poodle will always stand out in the best way.


Featured Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock

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