A Primer On Poodle Hairstyles, In Honor Of Siba The Westminster Winner

Feb 12, 2020
Originally published on February 12, 2020 4:54 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Hardcore dog-loving listeners already saw the results on Fox Sports. But in case you missed it, last night, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show crowned a champion.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROBERT H SLAY: The best in show goes to the standard poodle.

(CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED COMMENTATOR #1: Yes. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED COMMENTATOR #2: Siba takes it all.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Siba, the standard poodle, looks, well, pretty much how you'd expect a show poodle to look. Her black fur is carefully groomed into a fluffy top knot on her head, and her chest, legs and tail feature perfectly shaved tufts of hair called pompons.

CORNISH: Siba looks like she stepped out of an 18th century French aristocrat sitting room. That poodle style is unmistakable. But why are poodles groomed that way?

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UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What's with the little plumber butt thing happening on the hips there?

JANE LYNCH: (As Christy Cummings) These pompons are keeping Butch's hips warm from the cold water - the hip joints. It's very important.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) And the little drummerette things you were saying on that...

LYNCH: (As Christy Cummings) Right, we keep...

JENNIFER COOLIDGE: (As Sherri Ann Cabot) Those act as flippers.

CORNISH: No, poodle pompons are not used as flippers, but the mockumentary "Best In Show" did get it half right.

BRANDI HUNTER: To keep its internal organs as well as its joints warm.

KELLY: Brandi Hunter of the American Kennel Club says poodles were bred to be great retrievers. Their curly coats were shorn down to pompons not because it made them look so very fancy but because it made them faster swimmers while protecting vital organs.

HUNTER: A lot of people think that, oh, it's a really prissy dog. It doesn't like to get dirty. It's actually quite the contrary. It's actually a very versatile dog, and it's been used as everything from a herder to a retriever to a circus act dog. It's really got that kind of versatility and that kind of look, and they're really loved by the American public.

CORNISH: Now, Siba's owners have already announced her retirement, so she's probably not going to jump into a freezing lake to retrieve a freshly shot duck anytime soon. But don't think she wouldn't. It's clearly in her blood and her hair.

(SOUNDBITE OF PARQUET COURTS' "WIDE AWAKE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.