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Traditionally the Standard Poodle, the largest of the breed, was a retriever or gun dog, used in particular for duck hunting and sometimes upland bird hunting. The breed has been used for fowl hunting in the US and Canada since the early 1990s, in and out of hunting tests. The modern Standard retains many of the traits prized by their original owners: a keen working intelligence that makes the dog easy to command, webbed feet that make it an agile swimmer (all of the poodle's ancestors and descendants had or share the love of water) athletic stamina, and a moisture-resistant, curly coat that acts like a wool jumper in damp conditions. Towards the second half of the nineteenth century their use in hunting declined in favour of their use in circuses and status symbols of the wealthy, so that by the 20th century they were only found as companions or circus dogs. However, in the past 20 years to 2008, some breeders in the United States and Canada have been selecting for dogs with drive for birds in order to revive the breed for hunting, with some success. The Canadian Kennel Club admitted the Standard Poodle for hunting trials in 1996 and the American Kennel Club in 1998, respectively.

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