It is a very old breed, used as a water retriever. Its name comes from the German "pudel" which means "to splash about" and the word "caniche" apparently comes from the French word "canichon" which means ducklings, often hunted by these dogs. Its origin merges with that of the Barbet, the ancestor of many hunting breeds. It seems that it has African origins. It was born in North-Eastern Africa, where nomadic tribes used it to guard flocks. From Africa it was brought to Spain where it was crossbred with native breeds, particularly with the Portuguese Water Dogs, whose hair was trimmed like a lion's, so it could move faster in the water. Later it was brought to France, from where it spread all over Europe. In the middle of the 18th century, it became a companion dog.
It is a medium- to large-sized dog. The head is long and delicate, the skull is of the same length as the muzzle, with a moderate stop. It has a delicate, straight muzzle and a black or dark red nose. The eyes are egg-shaped, set apart and dark. The ears are rather long, drooping and covered with long, rich and wavy hair. The tail is docked and kept high. It can have curly or corded hair. The first variety has rich, soft, woolly, curly, elastic hair, forming equal curls. The corded-hair variety (less common) has soft, woolly, gathered in characteristic, equal fringes, of minimum 20 cm. The longer the fringes are, the more appreciated they are. They can be: white, brown, grey, apricot-coloured.
It is a very intelligent, sensitive, sociable and eager to learn dog. It is very obedient and devoted to its master, it gets along well with children, but is cautious and watchful with strangers. It gets along well with other dogs and other animals, especially if it was socialized from an early age.
The fur of this companion dog must be trimmed carefully by a specialist, leaving them long hair on the head, ears and feet. This dog doesn't shed. They will be washed regularly and the ears will be kept clean, not to get infected. The fur of the exhibition dog requires a much more careful and expensive grooming. It can have a traditional haircut that includes more than 50 varieties. Although it has a decorative aspect, this derives from the utilitarian function of the fur, which is trimmed in such way to help it swim easier and faster and to protect it against the cold. The two hair tufts on the back help prevent rheumatism and the tuft on the tip of the tail helps locating the dog under water.
It is a dog that can adapt to the offered living conditions. It has a rather high level of activity and it is recommended for active people. It likes long walks, swimming and exercising (flyball, agility competitions). It needs socialization and training.
This dog is very easy to train because it is very intelligent, it learns easily and is eager to learn. With a gentle but consistent training, it will learn everything it is required.
It is a devoted and wanted companion dog.