Though the Poodle's exact ancestry is largely disputed, the French are most commonly credited for the breed's origins. Poodles are likely descendents of the French Barbet, which was a water dog. Poodles are highly fond of water and were once used as gun dogs that retrieved waterfowl in water and on land. The name Poodle comes from the German Pudel or Pudelhund, which means splashing or splashing dog. The word Poodle is related to the English word puddle. French Poodle breeders are given credit for breeding these dogs successfully in all three sizes of Poodle called the Miniature, Toy and Standard. The type of fur clips seen on Poodles in competition originated to reduce the weight of the fur while protecting the joints from cold water. The rear half of the dog is shaved with rings of soft fur being left around the lower legs, part of the tail and part of the hips. The head fur is coiffed and styled into a pompadour, which makes the Poodle seem at once beautiful and haughty. The Continental and English Saddle pet clips are intricate and required in American Kennel Club competition. The appearance of the Poodle makes this breed a rather intimidating competitor. Poodle breeders understand Poodle breed standard characteristics. They follow the American Kennel Club's standards when preparing Poodles for AKC competitions. For example, dogs under twelve months of age can be groomed in a puppy cut, which is an all-over trim with fur of the same length. Adult dogs must be groomed in either the Continental or English Saddle styles which involve shaving the dog's back half while leaving pom-poms of fur on the hips, legs, and tail as well as styling the head fur in an intricate pompadour. The AKC defines breed standard traits for all breeds registered in its competitions. For all three sizes of Poodle (Miniature, Toy and Standard) the following traits must be evident: an energetic appearance, alert expression, elegant walk, intelligence, corded or curly fur, dark eyes, oval-shaped feet, straight muzzle and a deep, wide chest. These are just a few of the stated requirements. Poodle breeders will breed for these characteristics and breed out any irregularities in appearance, behavior and health. Buyers should approach Poodle breeders with a list of questions. Good Poodle breeders will also have questions for buyers. Buyers must first educate themselves on Poodle information and history so they can verify whether breeders know what they are talking about. Unfortunately, this is necessary to distinguish the good breeders from the many disreputable breeders working only to make a profit. Buyers do not want to buy a puppy mill Poodle, which is a Poodle born and raised in a cage borne of parents who have been neglected, over-bred, and often abused. Backyard breeders continuously breed adult dogs with no regard for the health or happiness of the parents or puppies. Buyers can avoid bad breeders by asking to visit the kennel where puppies are born and raised, requesting documentation of Poodle pedigree and medical records, and by asking breeders if they broker or sell puppies to pet stores. Good Poodle breeders will never treat a puppy as merchandise to be shipped and sold to anyone. Poodle breeders should be able to provide extensive information about purebred Poodles. A list of questions to ask Poodle breeders and basic Poodle information is provided in this article.