Of all the breeds I think poodles are among the most misrepresented dogs in terms of image.  All too often the public perception of a poodle is that of a pampered  little lapdog.  If you know any poodles then you'll know that this is far from the truth.  Even the smallest poodles are feisty little dogs and they excel at agility.  

The poodle comes in three sizes and several different colours.  The smallest are the toy poodles and they stand  at 10 to 11 inches (25 to 28cm) and weigh between 9 and 11lbs (4 to 4.5kg)

The next up in size are the miniatures and they stand at 11 to 15 inches (28 to 38cms) and weigh 26 to 31lbs (12 to 14kg)

The tallest is the standard poodle which should be over 15ins tall or 38cm.  No maximum height is given in the breed standard but the ones I know are quite a bit taller than this. 

Poodles are highly intelligent and they all seem to be willing and easy to train.  They are very active dogs. Even the smallest of them needs plenty of exercise and they do need something to occupy their minds.  Agility is an ideal occupation for a poodle but they excel at other activities too, such as obedience and flyball or heelwork to music.  They also make good working dogs like the assistance dog above.

This breed is also good for people who may be allergic to dog hair as they don't shed their coats.  This means that you will either have to learn to clip your poodle yourself or you will need to take the dog to a dog groomer about every six weeks.  You don't need a fancy clip for agility dogs so don't worry about getting your dog to look like the ones that show at Crufts.  Poodles also need to have their ears cleaned regularly and their teeth need to be kept free from tartar.

I've never met an aggressive poodle and they do seem to have very good affectionate temperaments.  I once had a bet with a trainer that a standard poodle that came into the obedience classes would be doing all the basics in three weeks.  The trainer pooh poohed the idea but I was right.  Within three weeks the poodle was doing near perfect heelwork, recalls, stays and retrieves.  The trainer completely revised his opinions of poodles.

Comments from poodle owners: Steph:

I own a one year old black miniature poodle called Jack Daniels and there hasn't been a dull moment since we got him! He loves his training classes and is currently training for the Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award, as well as attending agility classes. Jack is a kind natured dog who will do anything for some kisses and cuddles and his favourite treats! I would recommend the breed to anyone who is looking for a loving companion, whether they live on their own or with a family, as they are also great with kids. People who think these dogs are nothing but poncy show dogs couldn't further from the truth. Jack Daniels loves to get muddy in the woods and will walk with me for miles. The important thing to remember with poodles is that as long as they had your full love and attention they’re happy and ready to live your live with you.

Kaley (Schnauzer/poodle cross):

Extremely intelligent - fast learner, but gets bored too. Have to keep coming up with newer, better ideas and challenges. Exhausting for me! :))

Lynne (Beardie/poodle cross):

very obedient and loving dog. she also is very sensitive, she responds well to firm commands and is calm and wonderfully behaved in the home hence we take her when we visit family. I would like to do agility with her she is 19 months old is this too old to start? she is very fast and outruns all the dogs in the park.

Pat comments:  19 months is an ideal age to start agility.  The dog will be well grown and able to start jumping and weaving without fear of damaging soft young bones.  Go for it.

Shirley (Standard poodle):

Great fun with home built agility jumps and tyre made out of drain pipes slotted together and a child's pop up tunnel.

Jack Russell/Poodle  cross handler:

 Bright, keen, energetic, willing to please - loved by everyone!!!!!!!!

Poodle Handlers:

They are courageous and highly intelligent. ... good companions, very loving, friendly