A Little About Standard Poodles
I'll say it again, not many hunters realize how good Standard Poodles can be as hunting/retrievers on both upland game and waterfowl. But poodles don't do well retrieving for long periods of time in ice cold water.
There are many other performance venues this versatile breed is good at. They have numerous top performance titles in: Agility, Obedience, Rally, Tracking, Weight Pulling and the list goes on. To date there are 12 poodles that have earned AKC Master Hunter titles in the US and another in Canada. One of those, a white female named TEN, has qualified for the AKC Master National three times and passed in '09. Ten is the first ever MNH.
Poodles weren't allowed into AKC hunt test until 1998. That is not bad when compared to the several thousand Labrador, Golden, and Chesapeake Bay retrievers bred specifically to the best of the best for generations. Thousands have been entering hunt tests and field trials since the beginning. Poodles are still not allowed to be entered in field trials. That's because AKC has poodles classified in the non-sporting group for show dogs. There is a huge difference between hunt tests and field trials. There's been some discussion with PCA to change the grouping without success. I'm going to be honest. I doubt poodles could compete well enough to win against the majority of labs entered in field trials.
Yes, poodles do require grooming. I've learned it's cheaper to do myself. It takes me approximately 2-3 hours to do one including a bath, drying, and clipping once every eight weeks. It requires a couple really good clippers and a few different blades. Nothing is cheap but it's an investment recovered by the fourth grooming. A blow dryer also comes in handy. Kept short the coat requires little other maintenance. The hair that grows in the ears does need to be checked and carefully pulled as needed to avoid problems. Before purchasing a poodle make sure you are committed to regular grooming.
Please, when you think hunting poodle, forget the long unbelievably manicured coat required for the show ring. I'm not saying if an owner is so inclined a poodle of show quality cannot be kept in show coat long enough to earn a CH. Once finished it can than be trained for hunting. Or, it's possible to do both simultaneously. It just takes longer plus more determination grooming wise for show than I will ever have. If a hunting poodle is your priority my advice is, "forget the show ring." I would not advise hunting a poodle with long hair.
Helen now has her own standard poodle, Callie, she has trained and certified as a TDI (Therapy Dog International) and that isn't all she's been doing. Check out her page.
I have shown both Beau and Scout in obedience trials. They each have 2 legs toward their AKC companion dog (CD) titles. I'm learning fast I will have to be a lot more serious to do better in that regard. For now I'm concentrating on hunt testing and hunting them for real.