- Vitor Tavares
- From BBC News Brazil in Sao Paulo
3 hours ago
Credit, personal archive
In 25 years Bruno had seven poodles
When poodles Brisa, 16, and Belinha, 13, walk the streets of Madre de Deus, Bahia, they no longer receive the praise and cuddles they used to.
“Not only does the breed look like old ladies, it’s not the fad breed that people stop and praise when they find them,” says college student Laila Cruz, 24, who has lived with the dogs for more than 10 years without her.
Brisa and Belinha’s routine illustrates the current situation of the breed, which was one of the most popular in Brazil in the 1990s and early 2000s: the majority that are still alive are older, and few people are looking for them.
There is no official census in the country that details breeds of domestic animals, but some data gives an overview of the “disappearance” of poodles.
The Confederação Brasileira de Cinofilia (CBKC), which sets standards for breeding and issues pedigrees (proof of pedigree for pedigree dogs) in Brazil, points to the peak of poodles in 1997, when 3,193 were registered by people visiting the organization.
In 2022, despite the rise in the pet market in recent years, the number of registered poodles was just 501, down almost 85%.
The annual “census” conducted by the companies DogHero (pet accommodation) and Petlove (electronic commerce) among the customers registered on the platforms shows that 62% of poodles in 2021 were over 15 years old at the end of their lives.
In the same survey, the breed made up 5% of the dogs registered on the platforms in 2021 down from the 6.1% identified in the first survey in 2017, and behind mutts (no defined breed), ShihTzus and Yorkshires .
But what happened that these dogs went out of fashion in Brazil?
Credit, Getty Images
Standard and Miniature Poodles compete in England
Breed specialists whom BBC News Brasil spoke to agree that the poodle’s popularity was part of its “shame”. With the high demand for dogs of the breed, the number of people who created, reproduced and sold the animals in Brazil also skyrocketed.
“All breeds that have a peak in popularity are sold by more breeders. What often happens is that they are people who only aim for profit, without criteria or studies about the breed,” assesses Maria Gloria Romero, owner of one specialized in breeders kennel Poodles registered in São Paulo.
With the poodles, families wanted smaller and smaller animals. The situation reached a point where, in Brazil, animals were sold with the names “micro” or “zero” even if the smallest size, according to official criteria, was a “toy” between 24 and 28 cm in height.
“They crossed the smallest with the smallest, father with daughter, to satisfy the desire of customers who wanted a ‘pocket dog’, a bibleô,” says Giovana Bião, a poodle breeder and owner of a poodle kennel in Salvador.
“The result of this search are often animals with defects, problems. The very young should only be for company, not for procreation.”
Problems that have become more common in poodles in Brazil include brittle bones, seizures, defects in the dental arch, and what is known as “acid tears,” which leave the area around the eye dark.
Credit, Kilito Chan/Getty Images
Poodles lived at their peak in Brazil in the 1990s
According to specialized breeders, if a trait is found that affects the health of the animal, the dog should not be used for reproduction. Even closely related dogs should not be crossed.
In addition to a reputation for problems that “undermine” interest in the breed, Maria Gloria Romero believes families bought puppies for children hoping the animals would not grow up—but often they did.
When the breeder founded the Poodle Clube Paulista in the late 1990s, families constantly complained at shows, which at the time brought together dozens of animals: “I got tired of being approached at events by people who were moving away from kennels that reproduced, really felt deceived regardless of race”.
The club existed until 2003, when almost no more animals appeared at events.
Credit, personal collection
Belinha and Brisa are old
“You want a fashion dog”
Lara, age 6, is the seventh poodle in 25 years for systems analyst Bruno Gomes, age 40, in Gurupi, Tocantins. “It’s really hard to find someone else here,” he says.
Gomes’ insistence on the breed which for him has the main advantages of intelligence and the fact that it does not shed hair can be seen as an exception.
Besides the health problems that have become commonplace, another major factor in Brazilians’ disinterest in poodles is the cyclical movement of “moderate breeds”.
“Brazilians are very fashionable. The poodle became cheap, everyone had it, it was no longer new. Then the neighbor shows up with a new breed and that unconsciously fills your eyes,” illustrates breeder Giovana Bião.
For Lucas Woltmann, a PhD student in Social Anthropology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), who studies the emergence of dog breeds, “Entering or exiting ‘fashion’ depends on several factors, on collective influences (movies, books ) individually, such as B. personal preferences and space constraints”
In Brazil, some breeds that popularly took the place of Poodles were Yorkshires, Pugs, ShihTzus and more recently the German Spitz or Pomeranian Lulu.
In the perception of Laila Cruz, guardian of two elderly poodles, the “new” fad breeds often hairier and “petite” are also gaining ground through social media.
“Dogs now have to be ‘instagrammable’, they have to be pretty, and the poodle is a breed that needs a lot of grooming. As he gets older, he doesn’t look as pretty. So people want animals that are worth “socially,” it says.
Lucas Woltmann agrees that the networks help “present previously unknown breeds, build desires and expectations of them”. For the researcher, this relationship between dog breeds and “status” in history begins with the notions of “noble” dogs.
According to his research, a distinction was made between “noble” and “nonnoble” dogs in the hunting literature of the Middle Ages, for example.
“This suggested analogies between humans and dogs and supported notions about a possible biological and hereditary dimension of nobility, the clearest feature of which was the emergence of the term ‘noble blood’ between the 13th and 14th centuries,” he explains.
Investment in dog breeds gained momentum in Britain in the second half of the 19th century when organized breeding in kennel clubs became popular.
These places began to establish morphological and behavioral patterns and make genealogical records of the animals something that is maintained today by confederations such as CBKC in Brazil and kennel clubs around the world.
In the case of the poodle, according to the Kennel Club of England, it hails from Germany, where it was bred to hunt water, particularly ducks, over 400 years ago. The first poodle record was in England in 1874.
Credit, personal collection
The poodle Chiquinha with puppies, in Gurupi (TO)
Back to fashion?
For those who saw the emergence of the breed in Brazil almost disappear, the current moment is positive.
The investment that Giovana Bião made in her poodle kennel in Salvador in 2014 was described as “madness”. But according to her, the market was showing good signs as new creators emerged.
“In the world of groomers (professionals who specialize in pet aesthetics), the poodle is held in high esteem because of the multitude of grooming options available. He’s a unique animal for that,” he says.
The breed has also been sought after, mainly abroad, to accompany children with autism, as it is known to be very obedient and attentive to owners’ feelings. Another advantage is that this is a breed that does not cause allergic crises.
Maria Gloria Romero, who has never stopped breeding poodles, notes that current demand comes from a clientele with greater spending power who have become loyal to poodles because of their “cheerful, intelligent and loyal” character.
Even with a possible resumption, the two breeders still have to look abroad for animals, in countries like Japan, Russia and Sweden, in order to “maintain standards” in their kennels.
“I’m even grateful that the breed has lost popularity, because who breeds today is demanding,” judges Romero.
According to CBKC, which today has 56 registered poodle breeders in Brazil, 2016 was the year with the fewest records for the breed (450). Since then, the number has increased slightly (it was 501 in 2022).
Of course, what happened to the poodle can also happen to other breeds, which are currently trending in Brazil, according to experts.
Originally published at https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/geral64407900