The Origin Of The Parti Poodle
History shows the Parti Poodle as the original poodle. When describing, drawing and painting poodles from the 1400s to 1800s the color was most often parti-colored.
In fact, the first ever dog book for the United States of America has a parti-colored poodle for "The Poodle". So pre early to mid 1900s a parti colored poodle was what people automatically thought of when they thought poodle.
In the early 1900's solid became the preferred color, and the popularity made its way into the United States.
Why are Parti Poodles called Parti Poodles?
A parti-colored dog has a white based coat and distinct patches of color.
It is thought that "Parti" is just a shortened way to say Partially-colored, Partial-colored, or Partly-colored. So Parti Poodle, is a shortened way to say Partially-colored poodle. The term parti was not used initially when discussing poodles, but became popular at some point in the 1900's. The term is thought to have came about when dog shows and poodle breeding became more popular (and as solid colors came into popularity). 'Partially' translated in French is partiellement, which can also be shortened to Parti.
Parti is also thought to comes from the French word partager which means, "divide" "split" which would in turn refer to the poodle's coat color being split up or "divided" into two different colors or being "of two colors". Partager was then shortened or conjugated into "Parti".
Artist have been painting poodles for centuries and luckily the oldest paintings and drawings of poodles display the poodle being of two colors, usually white and black -or- white and brown.
One of the earliest paintings/depictions of a poodle is an oil painting painted on a plank of oak dated 1496. The painting is the Auckland Museum and shows the virgin mother and child with saints and a few poodle miniature parti poodles in the continental clip.