Poodles: Not just another pretty face.
Wed, 01/18/2023 - 7:58am

Question of the Week

What is the biggest misconception about your breed?

Janet Cupolo

Hellertown, Pennsylvania

The biggest misconception about Komondors is that they are hard to groom. They mat up when they are about nine months old, and time is spent for a while separating the mats into cords. Once they are corded, the cords grow longer with just a monthly check up to make sure they are not re-matting at the base. No brushing is ever involved! 


Joe Walton

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The biggest misconception about the Shih Tzu is that they are overgroomed lap dogs that don’t have to be particularly sound.


Michael Canalizo

Mill Neck, New York 

The biggest misconception about the Afghan Hound is that they should be a trimmed, embellished show dog before being a solid, capable hunting breed with great endurance that could take down small game, which just happens to have an element of elegance and a unique coat pattern that, when trimmed, is destroyed. Words of the standard like “strong,” “powerful,” “strength,” “punishing” and “substance” are tangible details to reward ... words like “pleasing,” “striking characteristics,” “impression,” “exaggerated” and “permissible” are more non-tangible ... and of more personal choice rather than a requirement of structure depicted by the standard.


Marge B. Calltharp

East Haddam, Connecticut

I’ve owned, bred, exhibited, judged and adored the Shar-Pei for more than 40 years. The question I hear most is, “Do they get mold in the folds?” The answer resoundingly is NO! A healthy Shar-Pei, which a majority are (because of the number of conscientious breeders), have no skin problems at all. The same is true for temperament. Aloof with strangers is not the case any longer for many. 


Karen Mull

Lititz, Pennsylvania

We raise and show Border Collies, so our biggest misconception is that they are hyper. Border Collies need a lot of mental stimulation, but if they are from good breeding, they do know how to settle down. They are also one of the most affectionate and people-oriented dogs I know. My one dog would tell me when I needed to take my MS shots and when I should be going to sleep.


Nancy Russell

Walsenburg, Colorado

My breed is Alaskan Malamutes, and the biggest misconception is that size is important. Since the late 1940s, when the stud book was reopened, there have been continuous arguments about size. The problem even ended up in an AKC trial board in June 1956. (You can Google “Robert Zoller, The Critical Years” for the complete story.) The second breed standard passed in 1960 stating that the "desirable" size for males is 25 inches and 85 pounds, and 23 inches and 75 pounds for bitches, was a compromise between two major bloodlines at that time. 

However, if you research the sizes of Malamutes actually doing freighting, there is considerable variation in size on a team, and for good reason. Wheel dogs need to be big and heavy, as their job is to keep the sled on the trail and muscle it around the corners. Joe Reddingon, the last of the freight haulers, states in his book that the two best wheel dogs he ever had were two AKC-registered Alaskan Malamutes, each weighing 120 pounds. On the other hand, lead dogs are usually smaller and quicker, as they must keep the line tight and respond instantly to commands. And certain snow conditions require the taller dogs to break trail, while in other snow conditions the lighter-weight dog does better breaking trail. And what possible difference would it make if a 26-inch female was in wheel and a 22-inch male in lead?! 

The standard should be changed from "desirable" to "average." And size should not be a deciding factor in judging. If two dogs are equal in the judge’s opinion, then something that really does not make a difference in the Malamute's ability to function as a freighting dog or survive in the Arctic should be used as a tie breaker, such as symmetrical markings or eye color.


Barbara Conner

North East, Pennsylvania

My breed is Standard Poodle. Many people think of them as "frou-frou" or a fancy dog.

This could not be further from the truth. They can be groomed in a minimalist style or a fancy one to suit any wishes or lifestyle. They are very strong, athletic and healthy dogs — I just lost my dear 14½-year-old and had another that lived to be 14 as well. They are great swimmers, runners and jumpers.

I have talked to hunters who said they were the best retrievers they ever worked with.

They have few health issues; these can be avoided by a pedigree check — hip problems are universal in large breeds, and Poodles are less than many to be bothered with it largely due to adherence to OFA guidelines by responsible breeders. Addison's disease is another concern that can be avoided by a pedigree search. They are also hypoallergenic, a plus.

People who have not owned them think of them as "high strung." My many Standard Poodles have all been very calm dogs and so easily trained to fit into any type of household. They are exceedingly willing to please their owners; not fighters, although they can more than hold their own in a situation in which aggression is called for. They will not pick a fight but are formidable if challenged.

Their elegance in the show ring sometimes overshadows their inherent toughness and strength; they are a breed that excels in any purpose dogs are used for: bred as a water retriever, excelling in obedience. Napoleon's Poodle was considered a "devil dog" by the enemy as he was so useful and fearsome in a wartime situation. They can be guide dogs, although their willingness to please sometimes dominates the responsibility required for the job.

The Standard Poodle is truly a dog for all seasons.


Richard Miller

La Harpe, Illinois

My breed is the Chihuahua. There are many misconceptions about the breed. A major one involves movement. The Chihuahua should reach and drive just like any dog that is to exhibit proper movement. The judging community should expect to see proper movement in the show ring. A Chihuahua that just gets around the ring should not be rewarded if there is another choice. The breed standard calls for “swift movement,” which should not be equated with swift up-and-down movement. The breed's movement should not be sewing machine like. I have led the Toy Group around the group ring when I was showing. Many judges asked me if I should not go to the end of the line. The misconception that a Chihuahua simply cannot move is WRONG!


Bill Shelton

Pomona, California

That longer in body is better, as with ears the size of Cardigans! Lastly, it’s fox like, not teddy bearish! 


Iva Kimmelman

Stow, Massachusetts

Whippets are not right for every single person who thinks so. That's a big problem.

They can be very destructive as puppies, into adulthood as well. I have found this runs in certain pedigrees, too.

Whippets require much more exercise to be happy than the public understands. They read online that they just run around outside for a few minutes and then come inside and crash on the couch.

In the case of puppies, they would rather chew on woodwork before crashing on the couch.


Ellen Cottingham

Silverlake, Washington

That Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are hard headed. 


Nancy Edmunds

Bowman, Georgia

The biggest misconception about the Vizsla is that they are all hyperactive and need hours and hours of exertion a day to remain happy. Most Vizslas would love to chase a ball, take a hike or even just go for a walk, and they are happy to do that with you, but don't need it every day.

The biggest misconception about the Wirehaired Vizsla is that they must shed a lot because their coat is a bit longer. In fact, they don't shed as much as the smooth Vizsla because their coat is wiry and stays in the hair follicle a lot longer than the smooth straight coat does.


Robyn Michaels

Chicago, Illinois

That Whippets are shy, or delicate.


Sylvia Arrowwood

Charleston, South Carolina

Misconceptions about Bulldogs are that they are not healthy and have many problems.

Good, conscientious breeders are constantly monitoring, testing and comparing notes with other breeders to weed out any potential problems and bring forth the healthiest Bulldogs possible. This is my testimony, and it is gospel.


Sid Marx

Mesa, Arizona

The biggest misconception about Irish Setters is that they are dumb and difficult to train. Just like any other breed, there may be some Irish like that, but for the most part they are intelligent and want very much to please you, so they are trainable. It is their enthusiasm for everything that gives the misconception. They are happy-go-lucky, but very much a loveable, people-oriented breed. How they are trained depends more on the owners than on the dogs.


Bonnie Threlfall

Cary, North Carolina

That English Cockers are a Setter in miniature.


Dana Read

Hillsborough, North Carolina

Misconception with Lhasas: the more hair, the better. Wrong! There should be a sound and balanced body under that coat. And that coat had best be of the correct texture (hard, heavy, straight), as a good groomer can add products or iron it to make it look correct, but they are just fooling themselves. Their artistic efforts will not show up in the whelping box.


Charlie Olvis and Liz Muthard

Lake Wales, Florida

That Old English Sheepdogs are easy to take care of. They don’t understand until they get one and then have to try to groom it.


Mark Francis Jaeger

Mason, Michigan

It may not be the biggest, but you will hear that Brussels Griffons are a "head breed." We have a 100-point standard, and while head is worth 35 percent, body and general conformation are worth 40 percent. The highest single value is 15 percent for body (brisket and rib). Coat texture is the second highest at 13 percent, followed by coat color at 12 percent.


Phil Briasco

Ocala, Florida

Two misconceptions for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier: 1) There is a slight rise over the loin … NO: Topline should be level. 2) Handler should walk when showing the Stafford … NO: A well-laid-back shoulder and discernible drive from the rear require the handler to move out.


Jill Warren

Corrales, New Mexico

The biggest misconception about English Setters in the show ring is that they should have extremely long furnishings. Their original purpose is hunting upland game birds. When they go hunting, they get burrs and brambles in their coat. If the coat is a moderate length, the debris is easy to brush out, but if the coat length is as long as we see in the show ring these days, it takes hours to pick out the debris, and the dog will lose some coat (and be deemed not competitive in the show ring) in the process. Therefore, excessive coat PREVENTS people from hunting with their English Setters. That’s just wrong! Moderate coat is sufficient to protect the dog from cold and skin lacerations from hazards in the field and should be competitive in the show ring. More coat is not functionally necessary and definitely not desirable.


Lilian Barber

Menifee, California

My breed is the Italian Greyhound, and the biggest misconception about these wonderful little guys is that they are impossible to housetrain. I’ve had from one to 14 of them at a time for the past 50-plus years and have found that, like most breeds, some are a little more difficult than others, but with a little patience, persistence and CONSISTENCY they can be trained. I believe one of the craziest things people do is expect their dogs to hold it for eight or more hours until they get around to taking them for a walk.


Minta “Mike” Williquette 

Anderson, South Carolina

That PBGVs are stubborn. They aren’t — they are tenacious.


Lee Anne Bateman

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The biggest misconception about the Samoyed breed is that it is a pretty, fluffy, beautiful softy of a dog! SO wrong! While Samoyed are truly beautiful and have a gorgeous insulating coat, this is a WORKING breed … a sled dog that is capable of hard work on difficult terrain in harsh weather. They should NEVER be soft of muscle. Under that glorious coat, they should have strong, taut muscle that would allow them to pull for miles without tiring. Beautiful — yes! Athletic and well muscled — YES!


Bo Bengtson

Ojai, California

When I walk my dogs in town these days I get so much less of “They are so skinny! Don’t you feed them???” and much more of “Wow, they are really beautiful!” — which may mean that the fitness craze has influenced the public perception of Whippets.

The biggest misconception that people have about Sighthounds generally is that they are stupid. Something that exquisite can’t possibly be smart, too … and people often mistake a disinclination to be obedient and do tricks for stupidity. 

Sighthounds are in general not out to please people. They are incredibly good at maneuvering humans so they have them where they want them to be, doing their chores for them!


Lauren Haskin

San Diego, California

I have been raising and showing Shelties since the early 1970s. Early on they had the reputation as being hyper, spinning, yapping maniacs. I’ll admit I did know a few like that in the early years! I was lucky to be in a position to go to a lot of seminars on breeding and obedience, and learned early on that puppy rearing between 21 days and eight weeks was the key to laying the foundation for a well-adjusted pet and one that took the pressure of travel and dog shows in stride. I never owned or bred a “spinning yapping” Sheltie.  Today’s Sheltie can be a “steady Eddie” and dependable. 

In the 1980s I added clowns to my “circus”: Boxers. My father got us one when I was eight years old. He was a very knowledgeable “dog man” and felt that a Boxer was the perfect dog for children and protection. “They won’t bite the wrong person” was his criteria when choosing a Boxer for the family dog. The misconception is that they are stubborn and hard to train. They are very smart, and once you get your Boxer’s sense of humor under control you will have a well-trained family member that will keep your house safe! 


Barbara Burns 

Freeport, Illinois

I bred Gordon Setters, and I get indignant when someone says a Gordon Setter is an Irish Setter that is black and tan. Gordons, and all the other setters, are distinctively different from each other. Gordons are a square breed, heavier bone, with a different movement from the other setters as well as different hunting styles. The terrain in Scotland, from where the Gordon comes, is rugged, rocky and thick with vegetation, so the heavy bone is needed to absorb the rugged terrain, as well as the structure to adjust to the hunting areas. The Irish, Irish Red & White and English setters have different hunting styles based on the terrain of the county of origin.  


Sandy Frei

Woodinville, Washington

The biggest misconception about the Afghan Hound is that they are dumb. The Afghan Hound was bred to be an independent hunter, which makes training them more of a challenge. However, they are very trainable, especially if you start when they are young. We have participated with our Afghans in conformation, lure coursing, Fast CAT, agility, obedience, rally and therapy dog, earning titles in each of the events.


Janet York

New York, New York

Most people think the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was bred to sit on the laps of royalty, but in reality King Charles II bred them as sporting spaniels to flush dove, grouse and quail. He bred the particolored, Blenheim and tri because in their white spots and white wagging tail could be seen as they worked through the brush. This made them less likely to be shot by the hunters.


Allan Reznik

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The biggest misconception about my breed (Afghan Hounds) is that they need to be “glamorous,” “elegant” or dripping in coat. Those adjectives do not appear in our breed standard. Judges, please look instead for a functional, athletic, primitive hunter. Ear fringe reaching down to the shoulders and beyond is not a requirement. 


Teresa Brown

Eminence, Indiana

I have three Swedish Vallhunds. People think they are Corgis and that the ones without tails are bobbed.


Jennifer U. Bell

Prairieville, Louisiana

The Beagle is NOT a square breed, but often judges misinterpret the words “short back” in the standard to mean square, when in fact it merely means short loin and long rib.


Janina Laurin

Ashford, Connecticut

That the Belgian Tervuren is a head breed that isn’t supposed to move well. They should have good reach and drive (full extension) appropriate for a square breed. Our standard does not advocate one attribute over another. Judge the package.


Shannon Loritz

Battle Creek, Michigan

The biggest misconception is that English Cocker Spaniels should look like "mini setters."


Leslie Sorensen

Keenesburg, Colorado

I’m a breeder of Australian Shepherds since 1969. Unknowledgeable breeders of other breeds have stated that “Australian Shepherds are NATURALLY BONDED to their families because they are anxious about being separated from them." This is a total misconception about our breed. Aussies choose to be with their owners by inherited behavior from generations of ancestors that were also near their owners and followed wherever they went. This breed is ready to go out and bring in livestock, do performance events, or just be your best buddy, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THEY DO!


Jean LAMB Heath (whose Lamb ancestors were farmers in Cumberland, Lake District of England)

Pleasanton, California

The Lakeland Terrier was developed in the Lake District of England to kill the large mountain foxes that were killing the farmers’ sheep and poultry, NOT TO KILL VERMIN, as, unfortunately, it states in the AKC standard. Believing that the breed was developed to kill vermin, not foxes, is the misconception. Foxes are not, and never have been, classified as vermin in the U.K.! Obviously, it takes quite a different animal to kill a large, vicious fox rather than a rat or mouse, and anyone who believes the latter is totally misled as to what the make and shape of the Lakeland must be in order to do its job successfully!

None of my Lakelands I have owned or bred have ever killed a fox, but one, Ch. Black Watch The Cardinal, tore loose from Susi Atherton on a casual walk after the dog show in Fairbanks, Alaska, and found a fox den in the woods! Obviously the breed’s instincts were still there in “Padre”! There were three entrances to the den, and rabbit pelts strewn about. The receptionist at the motel where we were staying said that there was a vixen and three kits at that location not long ago. 


Bill Stebbins

Port St. Lucie, Florida

My breed is Great Danes. In my opinion when dogs are judged, a primary factor in the mind of the judge should be to determine if the dog’s breed type would allow it to do the work for which it was bred. In the days when my wife and I were exhibiting (that was so long ago the Danes only had three legs!) I believe that more Danes exhibited correct breed type than they do today. Today we have a lot of very pretty dogs but not as many that could actually hunt wild boar. I can readily confess to the fact that I have awarded Danes with inappropriate breed type. Unfortunately, that was all I had from which to select. When I did JE seminars I used to tell the attendees that “Big does not mean good, but big does mean correct.” The first paragraph of most standards describes desired breed type. This is usually titled General Appearance. In the Dane standard the descriptive words used in this section include … regal appearance, dignity, strength, great size, powerful. My favorite description of the breed is also in our standard – the Apollo of dogs. One of my favorite sayings to JE attendees was … “The Great Dane was bred to hunt wild boar, not wild rabbit.”

There was a breed standard revision for the Great Dane effective January 1, 2019. The biggest take-away from this change would be the addition of our seventh approved color – merle. Another addition should also be noted. The Standard Revision Committee added a sentence to the end of the General Appearance section. It states: “Lack of true Dane breed type, as defined in this standard, is the most serious fault.” Overall we have more good dogs today than we did years ago. I would encourage Dane judges to heed the advice of our standard as noted herein.


Wyoma Clouss

Meridian, Idaho

Biggest misconception about Miniature Schnauzers: They are NOT all little yappers! They are meant to be watchdogs so they will alert you. Tendency to bark is inherited, just like so many other attributes of our dogs. So if parents are quiet by nature, their puppies tend to be quiet, too. And the reverse is true, of course. Those you see at shows with lots of excitement, people and dogs running by are likely to bark. But at home, when you live in a neighborhood, you just can’t have that. I’ve had barkers, I’ve had quiet. Quiet is better.  

My parents lived in a rural area, and let their Miniature Schnauzer bark when the nearest neighbors came and went, and everyone thought it was so cute. Well, I had to babysit the little darlin’ for six months once, and, believe me, we had a few heart-to-heart talks. No zappers, no shock collars, but when he had to come back in from the back yard for time-out in his crate every time he got stupid, he pretty quickly learned quiet is better.  


Kirsten Zielinski

North Ridgeville, Ohio

Brussels Griffons, a Toy breed, seem to be considered a breed for adults only and for conformation only. My four Griffs (not Brussels, EVER) were raised with my son, from his birth to 22 (of the four one is left, age 12) and were never hurt, teased, etc., by him or his friends. They are not hot-house flowers, they are dogs. Children should respect all dogs, regardless of size. All four of my Griffs had obedience titles, including one with a UD. The others had a CD and two CDXs, and all did rally up through the Excellent class. They are smart, talented little dogs. 


Karen Irazabal

Talladega, Alabama

Biggest misconception is that Afghan Hounds are the stupidest breed. In fact, I would argue that they are one of the most intelligent, just not the most obedient. They think for themselves, make decisions on their own that are not necessarily what their owners want. Most will do as asked, if there is something for them in return. As far as I’m concerned, that alone makes them smarter than a dog who just does everything asked of him. 


Richard F. Sedlack 

Middlefield, Ohio

That Poodle trims reflect their personalities and temperament.


Linda Tilka

Madeira Beach, Florida

The biggest misconception is our breed is “foo foo.” I have Standard Poodles, and they excel in field trials, barn trials, and are some of the fastest in Fast CAT. Great obedience participants, and they make great service dogs for all avenues of need. One was a famous cancer-detection poodle. We even have had an Iditarod team. Apart from no shedding or odors, I think I have the most versatile breed. And they look pretty.


Denise Borton

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Perhaps the biggest misconception is that the Bullmastiff is a lazy slug that sleeps on the couch all day, drools and is dull in temperament. While many are talented in doing just that, paired with a compatible owner the sky is the limit. 

Bullmastiffs are capable of competing with all breeds in all events. There are dogs that Fast CAT, herd and track with the best of those breeds that are considered high achievers in those events. Several Bullmastiffs are champion trackers, UDT, UDX, MACH and Schutzhund titled. Additionally, Bullmastiffs have a propensity to be naturally affectionate toward children and the elderly. Many are active as therapy/support dogs in hospitals and nursing homes, proudly wearing their tags or vests, and those that offer comfort as service dogs to military veterans.


Terry Hundt

Sandy Hook, Connecticut

My breed is the truly wonderful Doberman! Unfortunately, there is an ongoing fear of this breed. This comes from the guard-dog purpose for which Dobermans were originally bred. Way back, they were used in wars in the canine unit. They were trained for this purpose. Over the years they became more of a pet. Dobermans have to be trained to be guard dogs in this era. They are the best pets, children’s dogs and household guardians. They are extremely smart, playful and lovable. That is the rep they have today!


Nitsa Trayler

Tracy, California

Afghan Hounds and Borzoi are dumb and can’t be trained! Terriers are all barkers and hyper. These two statements are not true. I have had both Sighthounds and Terriers. My dogs get along with other dogs, have earned a CD or CGC, and as canine ambassadors we go to schools and libraries to teach the kids about dog safety. 


Bernadette Jordan

Upperco, Maryland

I have a Standard Poodle. Most people believe that Standard Poodles are froo froo dogs bred to be beautiful.

If they researched the history of the breed they would find that Standard Poodles were originally bred to be water retrievers! Their water-repellent coat afforded them comfort when hunting in the cold waters for goose and duck.


Kathryn Gaut

Central Point, Oregon

That English Setters are not smart. They are very smart but are independent thinkers. After all, we go into the field show them the bird so they can set on the bird. Then training you have to be careful not to be too harsh and not make mistakes — they remember.  


Terry Temple

Ellington, Connecticut 

That St. Bernards are voracious eaters and are expensive to feed.


Susan Malampy

Chester Springs, Pennsylvania

Great question! The biggest misconception about Boston Terriers is people think they are Terriers. It is a struggle for people to understand that it is in the name and the early development of the breed. Another is many newer show people, especially those with larger-breed dogs, think Boston Terriers are in the Toy group.


Sylvia Calderwood 

Eugene, Oregon

1. That Shetland Sheepdogs are always good at herding animals.

2. That their ears always tip naturally.

3. That they need a couch and a bed to be happy.


Stephen Lawrence, PhD

Stafford Springs, Connecticut

In Pulis, too many people (especially judges) reward dogs based on length of coat. Coat length is a function of age, not quality of the dog. Coat length should be completely disregarded in the breed ring when evaluating exhibits.  


Alice Lawrence

Stafford Springs, Connecticut

One of the critical elements of breed type in Havanese is the topline. Very few breeders, exhibitors or judges understand topline. Our standard reads, “The straight topline rises slightly from withers to croup.” “Straight” means no curve or dip. “Rises” means it goes up (not down). AND (my big issue) the rise is “SLIGHTLY.” Too many people interpret that to mean the steeper the better. NO! It is very discouraging to see judges rewarding placements based on which dog in the ring has the steepest rise. Understanding the concept of the word “slightly” throughout our standard is critical. More is not better.



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