The first Standard Poodle in history to earn Master Hunter titles in three registries, UH HRCH MHR Southern Standards Red Creole, MH, WCX, has proved more than his hunting expertise. The accomplished 6-year-old red male, called “Cooper,” has helped shatter the long-standing perception that Poodles cannot hunt.
Though the Standard Poodle originally was bred as a retriever for the duck marshes in Germany, the American Kennel Club (AKC) assigned the breed to the Non-Sporting Group in 1938. It was not until 1998 that the Standard Poodle became eligible to participate in AKC hunting tests. Despite his credentials, the Standard Poodle largely has been considered an outcast by serious hunters.
“Poodles have this ‘frou-frou’ image that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Angie Louter, who owns Cooper with her husband, Rich. “In reality, they are incredibly intelligent dogs that excel as hunting companions.”
The Louters breed, raise and train Louter Creek Standard Poodles on their 15-acre farm in Moreland, Ga. They are dedicated to changing misconceptions about the breed.
“The bottom line for us is proving the naysayers wrong,” says Rich, who trains the Louters’ Standards plus clients’ dogs of various breeds in waterfowl and upland game hunting.
Handled by Rich, Cooper has made great strides in proving the Standard’s capabilities. Each of his Master Hunter titles represents numerous exceptional performances in that registry’s most challenging hunt tests. Dogs pass or fail hunt tests based on how their performance compares to a standard.
“I’ve never seen another dog with the drive and worth ethic Cooper has,” Rich says.
Cooper topped off his trio of Master Hunter titles last January with the Master Hunting Retriever (MHR) title from the North American Hunting Retriever Association (NAHRA). He is the only Standard Poodle to hold the title, which is awarded after a dog achieves 100 points in NAHRA field tests. Eighty points, or four passes, must be achieved in Senior-level tests, consisting of triple-marked land and water retrieves, blind land and water retrieves, and upland hunting and trailing challenges.
Also adorning Cooper’s registered name are the Master Hunter (MH) title from the AKC, earned in June 2011, and the Hunting Retriever Champion (HRCH) title from the United Kennel Club (UKC), earned in May 2010. The MH title requires a dog to pass six Master level hunts, and the HRCH title requires a dog to earn 100 points, with 60 points, or four passes, achieved in finished level hunts. Both titles require a dog to consistently retrieve difficult marks.
Cooper’s accomplishments, which include the Poodle Club of America’s Working Certificate Excellent (WCX) and the UKC’s Upland Hunter (UH) title, led to a reserved spot for his portrait at the Bird Dog Foundation’s National Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction, Tenn. After Cooper earned his third Master Hunter title, the Louters began receiving media calls. Cooper’s photo and articles about his achievements have appeared in publications worldwide.
Bred by Mary Weil of Helen, Ga., Cooper was sired by Majestic Southern Standards Boudreaux out of Southern Standards Ms Ruby. Angie fell in love with Standard Poodles in 2003 when she bought her first Standard, Garlins Summer Rommance (“Enya”), for her daughter, Lexie, whose asthma and allergies necessitated a hypoallergenic family pet.
Married in 2004, Rich and Angie bought Cooper two years later for Lexie, who is now 13, to show in AKC Junior Showmanship. Cooper never made it to the show ring. Rich, a leisure hunter, fell for the puppy after discovering his enthusiasm for hunting and his desire to retrieve birds.
The Louters entered Cooper in his first hunting test in 2007. “That was a bad one,” Rich says. “It would have been easy to quit at that point. Instead, we decided if we were going to do this, we were going to do this right.”
“We knew we had a lot to learn,” Angie adds.
The Louters and Cooper also had to overcome widespread doubt from those who didn’t believe Poodles could hunt. “For years, we got a lot of comments and snickering behind our backs,” says Angie. “As we’ve educated judges and people in the sport about Standard Poodles and as our dogs have accomplished more and more, that has begun to subside.”
“Their intelligence makes training Standards to hunt more difficult than training other breeds,” Rich explains. “That has contributed to the misperception that they’re incapable. Rather than acting on their instincts, they’re more cautious, always thinking about things first.
“Poodles don’t take correction very well,” he continues. “You must have a lot of patience and make sure they know what you’re asking before you do any correcting.”
Learning from experience, Rich has developed a training program for Standard Poodles that has helped him put 45 hunt test titles on Standards. “Cooper taught me so much about training Standards,” he says. “We have several up-and-coming dogs that will probably be better than he is because we know more about the breed and the sport now.”
They include: SHR Louter Creek’s She’s My Little Whiskey Girl, JH, WC (“Whiskey”); UH HRCH Webster's Red High Heels, SH (“Layla”); and SHR Redlines Radiant Red Reba, JH, WC (“Reba”).
The Louters feed their Standard Poodles Purina Pro Plan Performance Formula. “It gives them the energy they need to sustain a rigorous training schedule,” Rich says.
Rich and Angie breed a litter a year, with most puppies going to hunting families. Cooper has sired eight Louter Creek litters, which include seven AKC Junior Hunters.
“Many of our puppies come back for training,” Rich says. “It is a joy to see a Standard puppy we bred transform into a skilled hunter and do what the breed was bred to do.”