The name poodle was derived from the German word "pudel", meaning to splash in the water.  The breed has its origins in 3 countries: Germany, France and Russia.  An early English "Water Dog" similar to the poodle also existed.  The Russian poodle was more like a greyhound in appearance, while the German poodle was sturdier and woollier.

Early poodles were large dogs used as water retrievers, and it is because of this serious occupation that the continental clip evolved.  Poodles' coats were very heavy when wet, so the dogs were shaved in the areas that didn't need protection from the cold water (like the hind end and legs), with ankles, chest, and head kept covered with hair.  The continental clip may appear silly to some, but it has it origins in athleticiism and hard work.

Poodles are glamorous, comical, elegant, athletic and very smart.  They are #2 for trainability (behind the border collie at #1).  They are not low maintenance dogs, however.  The fact that they don't shed is wonderful, but that curly coat makes frequent grooming absolutely essential.  They also REQUIRE human companionship, but that is easy because they make excellent family members.

It is important to excersise your poodle's physical body as well as his mind.  Regular walks, games of fetch in the yard and off leash romps with other dogs at a dog park are great ways to wear your dog out.  Obedience training is also a must for this breed.  It will provide the mental stimulation for this breed.  It's also a great way for the two of your to communicate with on antother.  If your dog is well trained you can them him anywhere.