Few breeds are as misunderstood and maligned. The poodle originated in Germany and was bred to be a water retriever, and the standard is the largest version of a breed that comes in three sizes. (Miniature and toy are the other two.) They don't have to have that ridiculous hair, either: Those poofs are for show dogs and are only necessary if you want your pet to look like a topiary.
Weight: 45-70 lbs
Best Qualities: Their original purpose was to retrieve birds from water, so swimming comes naturally to poodles, which are very smart and extremely trainable.
Drawbacks: Like Aussies and border collies, poodles are almost too smart. They need to be challenged and exercised daily. Their coat also requires regular maintenance so that it doesn't get too long and turn into dreadlocks.
What to Do With Them: This is one of the best hunting dogs on the planet, but you can train a poodle to do just about anything. They're tough enough for cold and snow, quick enough to keep up with bikes, and comfortable in water, so they're great dogs for boat owners.
Buyer's Guide: The Poodle Club of America is the
best place to start.