Clavidd Standard Working Poodles.

In this article, Holidays4Dogs talks to Dave Thomas from South West Wales about his passion for working standard poodles.

Standard poodles originated in Germany and were standardised in France where, at one time, they were common as working dogs. These days, standard poodles are a rarity in the field in the UK.

Dave Thomas and two of his working standard poodles.

However, Dave Thomas is keen to change all that. Holidays4Dogs finds out more about his aspirations for promoting the virtues of these talented dogs.

There are a few enthusiasts attempting to re-ignite the poodle as a working dog in Britain and Dave is one of the main driving forces behind this. As a result, standard poodles are gradually finding favour again in certain gundog circles.

Known as the, ‘Pudlehund’ in Germany, the name in English means, ‘puddle’ or, to ‘splash about (pudel)  and ‘hund’, means ‘dog’.

There is a theory that, before becoming established in Germany, the poodle originally came from curly-coated dogs originating in central Asia.

Many people believe poodles originated from a shaggy coated breed called, the barbet. (A breed recently recognised by the UK Kennel Club).  Other breeds possibly related to the poodle include Irish water spaniels and the Portuguese water dog. There is certainly a resemblance between all these breeds.

The original purpose of the poodle was as water retriever, mainly hunting ducks and other water fowl. Poodles have water-resistant curly coats.

Because the fur is quite thick it is clipped short, with longer fur left over the joints and vital organs. This is still a traditional way to clip a poodles’ coat.

The standard size poodle is the oldest of the three sizes, (standard, miniature and toy). The latter two sizes having been selective bred as companions.

However, historically, they were commonly seen in circus acts and street performances. The miniature variety of poodles were often utilised as truffle hunters. This really demonstrates the versatility of this charming breed.

Poodle potential.

Dave has worked with many different breeds over the years; hounds as well as gundogs. However, he came across the standard poodle when he was walking with a friend, Claire Mason, one of the top agility competitors in Britain.

Claire owned a standard poodle and he was already an accomplished agility dog. While out  walking with Claire and the dogs one day, Dave could see the poodle showed promise as a working gundog.

Dave noticed the dog confidently pushed through bramble and immediately put up a pheasant. As a seasoned gundog man, Dave was keen to see how the dog would react to direction. He asked the dog to sit and wait, before being allowed to set off after the pheasant.

Put to the test.

Claire commented that her dog probably would not come back! However, Dave whistled to the dog, who immediately came back. This proved that, while the dog was keen to hunt, he was also steady and obedient.

Dave was so impressed with the dog’s obvious potential, he was inspired to acquire a standard poodle of his own.

Dave has only has one working poodle now from his original three. Sadly, he recently lost two other dogs to old age and cancer. His original dog, quite astonishingly, was a rescue he acquired at a year old – having had three previous owners.

‘Mattie’, as she was called, learned very quickly. Dave tells us she was soon picking up with the best of the Labradors.

Dave pointed out that not only are standard poodles quicker than Labradors, they have much better agility. They also seem to be adept at learning things without much instruction. One of his dogs, for instance, learnt to pick up in reverse order.

Dave said all his poodles have had a strong working instinct. He also claims they have a knack of observing other dogs in the field and copying their behaviour.

For instance, he described one of his poodles as ‘springing’ in much the same way spaniels do.

In the beginning, organisers were reluctant to allow Dave onto shoots with his poodles. However, attitudes have gradually changed and he now works his dogs on several local shoots.

Dave is trying hard to reinstate the poodle as true working dog and would, ideally, like to see them moved from the Kennel Club’s utility group, back to the gundog group.

The future for working standard poodles.

There is certainly a growing interest in working standard poodles which has largely been instigated by Dave’s passion to bring back this useful working dog.

There are handlers in Monmouth and Kent who work standard poodles and, in Yorkshire, Dave knows of a chap who works his dogs on rabbits. Dave believes standard poodles really are versatile dogs that deserve a lot more recognition for their working abilities.

While poodles might have a reputation for being the clown of the dog world – there is far more that lies beneath that goofy exterior.

Dave and other dedicated enthusiasts know that poodles have talent in bucket loads. They love being super active and they soak up instruction. Dave’s first dog, Mattie, proved this as, despite having three previous homes and not starting fieldwork until she was over a year old, she learnt rapidly. She then quickly excelled to the point she was working as well – if not better – than her fellow spaniels and Labradors.


We think Dave and his poodles are brilliant for making in-roads back into the working gundog world. Dave has recently moved to Bulgaria and is now looking for a new shoot on which to work his dogs. Do you know anyone who works standard poodles?  Holidays4Dogs would love to hear from you.

With kind thanks to Dave Thomas of Clavidd Working Standard Poodles. Photo’s suppled by Dave Thomas and not to be reproduced.