Sometime during the 16th century, Germans used poodles as fowl retrieval dogs. Poodles were also found in Belgium, Holland, France and Russia. It was conceded that there were three main groups of poodles in Europe, that being in Russia, France and Germany. The main differences between these three groups were coat texture and apparent bone thickness. German and French poodles were sturdy, thickest coats, with the French poodle a bit slighter in build. While the Russian poodles were much slighter in build with higher legs, resembling more the Gray Hound. During the 17th century, the breed began being imported to England. These dogs were imported from France and called "Water Fogs." During this time, three sizes could be found in Europe, small (but not toy), medium and large. The desired color of the "well-bred" dog was black, however black with white or brown (also known as parti color) was regarded as a lesser quality.
The smaller sizes in the breed, i.e. miniature, toy, tiny toy and teacup have only gained popularity with the common person in the 20th century. This is not to say that these sizes have not been around. In fact, miniatures have been around as long as the larger dogs of the breed. This is evident in artwork of the 15th century and 16th century. Early miniatures and toys were used as truffle hunting dogs in England. It is believed that poodles were mixed with terriers to produce a more efficient truffle hunter. This is because truffle hunting is done at night.
As you have read above, poodles ere retrieving dogs for waterfowl. The large and medium size dogs ere excellent swimmers and eager to retrieve. Poodles were made to work in extreme colds and thus made good use of their coats. The problem came with the thickness of the coat being a hindrance to their swimming and was very hazardous in the conditions that they worked. To compensate, owners began clipping the coat from the hindquarters to allow the free use of the back legs, but leaving small cuffs of hair around the joints of the legs and hips and the main portion of the coat on the upper body and chest. This in turn made the poodle lighter and swifter, yet leaving a good coat for protection. In modern day, there are many different styles of cuts. Some of the more popular styles are the Puppy Clip, the English Saddle, the Continental, the French and the Sporting cut.
There are many sizes of poodles as we have discussed, standard, miniature, toy, tiny toy and teacup. Each dog should be measured from the top, or highest point of the shoulders to the floor. There are 5 sizes of poodles, however the AKC recognizes only 3, Standard, Miniature and Toy. You will find these as well as the other two below:
The Standard - The standard poodle should stand over 15 inches in height.
The Miniature - The miniature poodle stand between 10 and 15 inches high.
The Toy - The toy poodle stands less than 10 inches in height and weighs over 6 pounds.
The Tiny Toy - The tiny toy poodle, like the toy poodle stands less than 10 inches tall, however the tiny toy poodle is gauged by weight rather than height. Tiny toys poodles weigh 4-6 pounds.
The Teacup - The teacup poodle is less than 9 inches and weighs less than 4 pounds.