Have you ever wondered how the Poodle became the canine symbol for sexiness?
Just a few years ago,a hilarious Subaru commercial featured a family of dogs driving down a street. The family was composed of a Golden Retriever dad, a Labrador Retriever mom sitting in the passenger seat, and a bunch of adorable, cuddly puppies at the backseat. When the doggie dad pulls up at a stop sign, a white Standard Poodle crosses the street in front of the car. The Golden Retriever stares at the passing pooch while the Labrador mom growls.
In another advertisement, a Poodle cheated on her Labrador boyfriend with a Bulldog.
Labradors and Golden Retrievers are known to be all-American dogs, while Poodles are the epitome of temptresses. Bulldogs, on the other hand, are known for their tough image.
But how did a dog breed originally bred for hunting became the canine symbol for sexiness?
In the book Pets in America: A History, author Katherine Grier writes that by the 1920 and 1930s, the fast-growing dog-grooming industry brought elaborately attractive cuts for Poodles into fashion. These doggie haircuts made both the Standard Poodles and Miniature Poodles look both high-maintenance and extra-feminine.
Another sexy icon, Betty Boop, was originally drawn as part French Poodle. She entered “Dizzy Dishes” as the canine protagonist in the 1930s and eventually, her long ears became hoop earrings when she slowly morphed into the cartoon vixen we all know today.
It appears that attractive women and Poodles go so well together.
Grier also says that in the post-war era, Poodles became associated with “sexbomb women”. There was also a trend for dressing up these dogs in ornamental dog clothes and collars. In fact, one trendy brand of rhinestoned collars was called “Poodletown.”
In the early 1950s, small dogs like Miniature Poodles were viewed as fashion accessories – being carried around by actresses including Joan Collins, photographed by Slim Aarons lounging in bed with a pink-colored Mini Poodle.
The dog breed’s reputation for being high-maintenance like high society women became so apparent that the advertising industry picked it up too. A 1963 advert for a dog food showed a Poodle with her nose high in the air, with line of text promising to “satisfy the fussiest appetites in your kennel.”
The large difference between the Poodle’s history as a hunting dog and its contemporary image often lead to unintentional hilarity. During the 2004 presidential election, the NRA teased John Kerry with a commercial depicting Kerry as a white Poodle with a bow in his fur. “That dog don’t hunt,” the caption reads – implicating that like Poodles, Kerry is feminine and French, not butch and American.
Nowadays, Grier says, Poodles are not as popular as they were before. They dog breed has been displaced in feminine trendiness by Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus. Despite the decline in the Poodle’s popularity, they’re still a well-known component in “designer dog” mixes likes Cockapoos and Labradoodles.