Let’s be honest, without the Poodle there wouldn’t be a Doodle and no Doodles would mean no Know Your Doodles. Our aim is to arm you with knowledge of different Doodle breeds and offer impartial advice on various topics to help you become the best Doodle parent you can be.
All that said, we reiterate that without the Poodle we wouldn’t be here so with this article we would like to pay homage to this remarkable breed. We have delved through history, TV, film and the arts to bring you even more reasons to see that the Poodle, is in fact, pretty awesome!
You can read more about the breed itself in our ultimate Poodle guide but for now, let’s check out those A list Poodles.
Table of Contents
Famous Standard Poodles
The Standard Poodle is the tallest and original of the three varieties. Measuring over 15” and up to 24” on average with a top-end weight of 75lbs. However, some Standard Poodles, just like some humans, are much bigger than average. At 6 years old Montee from Idaho was a whopping 100lbs! Let’s have a look at just some of the Standard Poodles who didn’t keep an entirely low profile:
- Charles le Chien – The translation from French is Charles the dog. Known as Charley, he was the French-born pet and traveling companion of author John Steinbeck. Charley was born in the Parisian suburbs and only acted on directions given in French. In the fall of 1960, Steinbeck took to the open road in his three-quarter-ton pick-up truck to embark on a journey of discovery across 34 states of his homeland. With only Charley (whom he affectionately referred to as his ambassador) for company, the pair covered over ten thousand miles. Nobel winning Steinbeck later documented their travels in the book “Travels with Charley: In Search of America”.
Famous Miniature Poodles
Mr / Mrs In Between is the middle size of our favorite pooch. From paw to shoulder the Miniature Poodle will measure over 10” and under 15” (but 11” – 15” in the UK). However, just because they are smaller than their Standard cousin doesn’t mean that they are any less famous:
- Aero – Named after the bubbly chocolate produced by Nestle, Aero is a red Miniature Poodle owned by Japanese figure skating star Mao Asada. Mao has won a plethora of medals during her career and fronted many an advertising campaign. Aero has not only joined Mao in her exhibition programs but appeared alongside her in Japanese chocolate commercials.
- Edward – Edward is the ‘Naomi Campbell’ of the Doggy World. A red Minature Poodle he has appeared in UK commercials and on famous fashion shoots, Stella McCartney’s being one. You can witness his beauty and read more about his work on his own résumé here.
Famous Toy Poodles
Their diminutive size by no means equates to a diminutive presence.
- Jinkee – Jinkee is the much-loved pet of food and travel journalist Sofia Levin. A red Toy, Jinkee is taking the internet by storm with her own Instagram page of almost 73,000 followers. That’s almost four times more than Levin!
FUN FACT: The height for the breed standard differs by one inch between the AMC (American Kennel Club) and the KC (UK Kennel Club). In the US the maximum height (from paw to withers) is 10” whereas in the UK the maximum is 11”.
Famous Poodle Owners
From as far back as Poodle history goes right through to the present day there have been famous owners of this ever-popular breed. We could fill the article with famous owners alone given their reputation. Here are just a few:
- Elvis Presley – Elvis owned more than one Poodle throughout the years. Whilst stationed in Germany as an American GI he had a Poodle companion who went by the name of Champagne. He was also known to gift the breed to those he loved. Priscilla received a Toy called Honey and he gifted his beloved mum Gladys Duke, another Toy who was named in honor of John Wayne.
- Walt Disney – Dee Dee was the pet name for Walt’s brown Poodle Duchess Disney. She was his weekend studio companion when his daughters got to an age where they preferred to spend their time with their girlfriends over their Daddy.
- Sir Winston Churchill – The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was offered a Bulldog as a replacement for his Poodle Rufus who was run over and sadly killed. The owner of the Bulldog was told on Sir Winston’s behalf, “If Mr Churchill has another dog it will be a Poodle again.”
Famous Poodles in History
Despite the disputes about the Poodle’s origin, their iconic history cannot be argued. Spanning decades and centuries it’s not hard to unravel a rich and adventuresome Poodle tale from many eras.
- Boye – Also known as Boy and may have even been a girl belonged to Prince Rupert of The Rhine. He was gifted to him by an English Earl to keep him company during the Thirty Years War when he was incarcerated at the fortress of Linz. Upon his release and subsequently during the time of the English Civil war propaganda by the Parliamentarians attempted to discredit Boy and his Royalist master by purporting that he possessed magical powers. Some even suggested he was the Devil himself in disguise. The Royalist mascot Boye held the honorary title of ‘Sergent-Major-General’. When Prince Rupert prepared for battle his rare white hunting Poodle Boy would often be found by his side until his sad and untimely death at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644. Boye escaped from his post to be with his master and was slain as the hostilities developed. You can read a more comprehensive account and see an artist’s depiction of Boye at The Vintage News.
- Sancho – Another battle hound, Sancho was taken under the wing of Lord Worcester, Henry Somerset (the Marquis of Worcester) after he was discovered lying on the grave of his master, a French Officer, at the Battle of Salamanca (1812) during the Peninsular War. Brought back to London to recover you can see the artist Richard Dighton’s 1817 etched depiction of Henry and Sancho in ‘A View Taken in Hyde Park’ (Henry Somerset, 7th Duke of Beaufort)
Famous Poodles in TV & Movies
Here at Know your Doodles, we have struggled to understand how the Poodle, be it, Standard, Miniature or Toy hasn’t made a starring role in Hollywood. There have however been many very important cameo appearances:
- 102 Dalmatians (2000) – Imposing and impressive a pair of Standard Poodles, dyed pink and blue, relay significant intelligence to the Dalmatian rescuers.
- Babe: Pig in the City (1998) – A little more than a cameo role, a pink Standard Poodle joined Babe in her adventures and exciting rescues. What’s more exciting is that this Pink Lady mates with an English Bull Terrier creating, what we believe to be, the first Doodle puppies in film. It’s probably best not to mention that she then leaves her mate for another man!
- The Beverley Hillbillies (1962 – 1971) – Claude Drysdale, the Standard Poodle was the “posh dog” of the long-suffering neighbors of The Clampett’s. Despite Mrs Drysdale’s best efforts, Claude was wooed by the ‘mutt’ next door.
- Eastenders (1985 – 1993) – One of the UK’s best-loved Soap Operas. Roly was there from the start until his untimely demise in 1993 (he retired in real life). A cream Standard Poodle he belonged to Den and Angie Watts who ran the local pub in the show whilst in real life he was the companion and best friend of the show’s creator.
- Oliver & Compnay (1998) – Based on Oliver Twist, the singing Standard Poodle Georgette is voiced by Bette Midler.
- Waffle the Wonder Dog (2018 – ) – Waffle the Wonderdog is a British children’s television program made by the BBC. This talking red Miniature Poodle is adorable but always causing mischief! Waffle’s cut is natural leading many viewers to believe she is actually a Doodle rather than full Poodle
- Zoolander (2001) – A White Toy Poodle stars as the companion of the movie’s resident ‘baddie’ and spends her time on screen nestled in his arms.
Poodles in Famous Paintings
With their rich history, it’s not surprising that this beloved breed makes many an appearance across the world of art. Here are just a few examples of Poodles who have been immortalized in paint.
- Munito – We talk about Munito in our Famous Circus Poodle Section of this article. Circa 1818 Mary Evans drew ‘Munito, The Clever French Poodle’.
- Sancho – See Famous Poodles in History for more information on Sancho.
- Albrecht Dürer – Dürer was a German artist whose work in both the 15th and 16th centuries can be found to include images of early Poodles.
- Francisco Goya – Goya is the most significant Spanish artist of his time. Keeping up with the trend of the Poodle being the most popular pet dog in 18th century Spain they made an appearance in many of his works.
Poodle Record Breakers
Selling over 110 million copies The Guinness Book of World Records is one of the best-selling non-fiction titles worldwide. Inside its pages are full of weird and wonderful feats and achievements. Next to the world’s tallest man and longest fingernails, you will also find some amazing, recording-breaking Poodles:
- Sailor is a Standard Poodle who has been a record-breaker more than just the once. In an impressive 18.19 seconds, he held the Fastest time to Climb 20 Stairs by a Dog on hind legs. More recently he broke the world record for Fastest 10m on a Walking Globe by a Dog. Sailor accomplished this in a super impressive 33.22 seconds.
- In 1999 Toy Poodle Chanda-Leah earned herself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for Dog with the Largest Repertoire of Tricks. There were an astonishing 469 different tricks that she performed to secure her title. She sadly died in 2006 at 12 years old.
- Not quite a record-breaker as the title is not breed specific but the oldest recorded living Poodle was a Toy named Seamus. Born in the USA on 24th July 1993 he died on 18th May 2014. This made him 20 years and 298 days old and was the 12th oldest dog on record.
Famous Cartoon Poodles
Celebrated for our younger generation to love almost as much as we do the cartoon Poodle is often drawn sporting the classic Poodle cut in a wonderful array of colors.
- Cleo Diller – Purple and pretty she is also spoiled and sassy. She is one of Clifford the Big Red Dog’s best friends and whilst she might always be relied upon to tell the truth she is loyal to the core.
- Betty Boop – Did you know that before her transition into human form Betty was depicted as an anthropomorphic Poodle? First appearing in 1930 she was originally a supporting character.
- Penelope Poodle – Penelope was a worrisome French Poodle who appeared in the Australian cartoon series Blinky Bill’s Extraordinary Balloon Adventure. Pink and pretty she originates from Paris and speaks with a French accent.
Famous Circus Poodles
Whilst their origins lay in Germany as duck hunters and retrievers the intelligence, agility, and stand-out looks of the Poodle soon gained the interest of circus performers. Many famous Poodles are just that due to the tricks that they perform be it physical or intellectual. From the early 18th century Poodles have continued to perform into the 21st.
- Munito – The Learned Dog – There is actually disagreement as to whether Munito was in fact a Poodle or a mixed breed. Poodle lovers who like their Poodle history will adamantly claim him as one of theirs. Equally, many research avenues place him as little more than a mixed bred mutt! In all likelihood, the chances are that there was more than one Munito and everybody is factually correct. With that in mind, we will go with the Poodle lovers and claim him for ourselves. A performing circusesque dog, Munito the Poodle was most likely active in the ’20s and ’30s of the 19th century. He attracted captive audiences across France and England with his math, spelling, and time-telling skills.
- Irina Markova and her Performing Dogs – Irina’s performing dogs were in fact, Poodles. Her troop consisted of Standard, Miniature, and Toy Poodles and performed with The Big Apple Circus amongst other venues. Irina was always an animal lover and began her career at the Rostov Zoon in Russia as an animal keeper. You can read more about Irina and even watch clips of her performing Poodles here.
- Posnas Pudle Parade – This German troupe began with Jani and Joshchi and their nine playful Poodles. Today Jana, their daughter has continued their work with her own Poodle show. Jana and her troupe starred in the 2014 live version of Dumbo in ‘The Poodle Act’ Although in German you can learn more about Jana both on her website and Facebook page.
Famous Poodles in Popular Culture
There are many adventures that some of our four-legged friends have gotten up to that may not be typically Poodle. This just continues to highlight how versatile they can be but also how sometimes, we as humans attempt to push them beyond their limits:
- Since 1973 competitors have come together from around the world to travel the 1150 miles from Anchorage to Nome in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. In 1988 musher (a driver of a dog sled) called John Suter entered a team of Standard Poodles into the event. This was too much for the single-coated breed and many had to be left at checkpoints along the way with frozen feet and matted coats. As a result, in the early 1990s new rules were implemented preventing all but Northern Dog Breeds (e.g. Huskies and Malamutes) from competing.
Famous Stolen Poodles
The Mystery of Masterpiece
Standing only 9.5” high and 8lbs in weight Masterpiece may well be the most famous and most valuable Poodle in history. Born on the 4th August in 1946 this grey Toy who was the largest of his littermates captivated his owner from day one.
Masterpiece was the loyal companion and prodigy of ‘Count’ Alexis Pulaski, a Russian-born entrepreneur, socialite, and dog breeder who immigrated to the USA in the mid-1920s. Before he left Russia, he bred and showed Doberman Pinschers, he continued this trend until 1939 when he took care of the Poodles of his future business partner Gilbert Kahn. Pulaski’s breed alliance shifted and the rest, as they say, is history.
51 West 52nd Street, NY, was the next stop. Financed by Kahn and another rich Poodle lover R. Stuyvesant Pierrepont, Pulaski opened Poodles Inc. Poodles Inc. catered for everything the American high society breed of the 1950s needed and wanted. Any respectable Poodle worth their salt would be found sniffing around in NY’s finest Poodle Parlour and Boutique. Poodles Inc. would also ultimately be where Masterpiece would make his final public appearance.
Despite an early bout of distemper Masterpiece went on to win championship, obedience, and utility titles and it is said that he was the first Toy breed to achieve all three. A true socialite he attended parties commanding up to a hundred guests across the country, received invitations to Parisian fashion weeks, and traveled to Cuba in his capacity of ‘Goodwill Ambassador’.
At the height of his career, he even had his own staff which included a bodyguard, groomer, and personal trainer whose previous resume experience included being the lion tamer at the Bronx Zoo. His many tricks included walking on two legs including both front and back although his most famous was to shake his head in earnest when Pulaski asked him “Are you a Communist Masterpiece?” His earnings were immense, reported at $11,000 a year, which is the equivalent of around $100,000 in today’s money.
His fame not only attracted the awe of his followers but interest in ownership, indeed the husband of Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth, Aly Kahn reportedly offered Pulaski $25,000 for Masterpiece. Although acknowledging his worth Pulaski refused to sell his beloved companion. Siring over 300 pups himself some famous owners of his offspring included Judy Garland, Eva Peron, and Gary Cooper.
In May of 1953 Pulaski, whilst on the shop floor of Poodles Inc called for Masterpiece to showcase him to attending customers. Masterpiece strangely didn’t respond to his master’s calling. The premises were frenziedly searched from top to bottom and in every nook and cranny, but Masterpiece had disappeared!!
NYPD was informed almost immediately. Thirteen states were on high alert, flyers were printed, and newspapers printed missing dog articles, but Masterpiece had vanished from the face of the earth.
Rewards were offered with a promise of no further action. Pulaski even examined Masterpiece’s recent litters for the pup who most resembled their father and subsequently offered ‘Just Johnny’ in exchange for the safe return of his beloved star. Other than one brief sighting of a small grey Poodle leaving Poodles Inc with a woman wearing a red coat no evidence materialized and nor did Masterpiece.
Like Lord Lucan, Jack the Ripper, and the Mary Celeste the disappearance of Masterpiece, whilst most likely theft, will remain one of life’s true mysteries.
You can listen to It’s Criminal’s full account of the disappearance of Masterpiece as they also delve into the Poodle craze in 1950’s America in episode #84.
Best Poodle Thief
Just for fun and technically a Doodle, not a Poodle we couldn’t leave out Wilma the Cockapoo from London. Wilma’s criminal career began with her stealing golf tees for their bags. She soon progressed to epic proportions by pickpocketing a full wallet from a fellow café guest leaving her owners so embarrassed they claimed that it had been dropped when returning it to him.
The Most Famous Poodle
The first British Army Dog on record Boye was so well known across Europe that Murad IV, the Ottoman Sultan, appointed his ambassador to source him a Poodle with similar looks and dedication.
Famous in his own right and then for his mysterious disappearance in 1950’s NY anyone who was anyone knew of Masterpiece.
Technically Rufus’ master, Sir Winston Churchill, was more famous than he but we thought that the bond they shared earned him a place in the contender’s list.
We’re struggling to decide who our winner is as they all equally bring something pretty amazing to the table. We’ll leave you to decide who is your most famous Poodle.