1808, from German Pudel, shortened form of Pudelhund "water dog," from Low German Pudel "puddle" (compare pudeln "to splash;" see puddle (n.)) + German Hund "hound" (see hound (n.)). Probably so called because the dog was used to hunt water fowl. Figurative sense of "lackey" (chiefly British) is attested from 1907. Poodle-faker, British army slang for "ingratiating male," is from 1902, likely euphemistic.
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