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Old 04-05-2013, 02:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Graphic Standard Poodles...Opinions and mine

I was curious how many of you, if any, are at all familiar with Graphic Poodles in San Rafael CA (Florence Graham). As some of you may know, my family and I have owned two silver standard graphic poodles, both of which have now passed on. I know that Graphic has generally had an excellent "name" and I can definitely attest to the fact that Graphic poodles have AMAZING personalities, wonderful temperaments, and are usually quite beautiful. My issues with the Graphic lines, quite frankly, is all the line breeding that seems to occur. There just appears to be WAY too much "Graphic" in the pedigrees of some of these dogs. I'm not sure what your personal experiences may have been with Graphic, but I'm frankly less than pleased with the quality of life the poodles tend to have.

To be fair, I in no way wish to bash this breeder or her reputation. I will say again, she breeds wonderful animals! They are incredible companions with top notch personalities, sweet as can be, full of goodness, very smart, and beautiful. That being said, the breeder tends to have a convenient disregard for health problems that I find rather disturbing.

Graphic Poodle Pros
1. Wonderful personalities
2. Extremely smart
3. Very sweet animals
4. Sensitive (almost as though they can see your soul)
5. Beautiful

Graphic Poodle Cons
1. Health guarantees...I will elaborate here. This is a BIG one.
2. Line breeding
3. Too many puppies at one time
4. Many of the dogs start looking almost exactly the same across generations. That can't be a good thing.
5. Convenient disregard for documented health issues (playing innocent)

Our first Graphic poodle was a wonderful silver male, Picasso. I've probably mentioned him before. He lived until 10 (a little young to go in my opinion.) He made a huge impact on our lives and although he wasn't super energetic or "insane," this dog had such a soul to him. Just his presence was enough to make us so happy to share in his life. He was a wonderful dog and I thank Graphic poodles for giving us the privilege to own and love him for those 10 years. In defense of the breeder, I will say that this boy was relatively healthy until he turned about 9 with the exception of early aging eyes according to one of our vets at the time. He eventually developed thickening of the stomach wall which was probably a form of Irritable Bowel Disease (common in the breed) in addition to having problems with nodes popping out on his body periodically. He had some type of inflammatory condition at that age which steadily got worse. What ultimately got him was when he started to bloat one evening. We got him to the emergency vet within 10 minutes of noticing it, however we were told how weak he was in other respects and that he only had a 20% chance or so of survival. They were also going to charge us around $9,000 for the emergency surgery. 20% was not good odds so we had to make the extremely difficult decision and we'll leave it at that.

What bothered me (along with having lost him so fast at 10) was the breeder's reaction to his loss. She showed absolutely no remorse whatsoever and basically said coldly that he looked old for his age and didn't look well the last time she saw him. Now, I didn't expect her to fall to the ground in tears or anything of that nature, but an "I'm so sorry for your loss" might have been nice considering it was one of her dogs. Keep in mind that for our family, our poodles are a HUGE part of our lives. They're family, they mean the world to us and we do everything in our power to care for them both when they're healthy and when they're not. But....this was one of the first real indications to us that Graphic poodles was becoming more of a business than anything else. Our male lived pretty close to what most poodle owners would consider a full life, but 8-9 years should not be the point of no return with a downhill spiral past 10 years old. Florence has had dogs live to 13-15, although heaven knows how healthy they were at that age.

Our silver graphic female was a different story with respect to major health concerns in comparison to Picasso. We lost her this January at the very young age of 6, and the last 3-4 months have been very difficult, especially for my mom considering how short her life was. Annabelle was diagnosed with Addisons Disease at 3 which is very early in life. She was such a wonderful girl with a real soul just like Picasso. Since the time of that diagnosis, her quality of life was a steady downward hill. Ultimately, she developed squamous cell carcinoma in her mouth and that pretty much did her in.

Now, other graphic owners may have had different experiences with their poodles, but having had 2 silver standards from this breeder, I'm much less than pleased with her breeding practices. Naturally, any breeder considers selling dogs a business which it is, technically, but Florence seemed to have a real disregard for health concerns with respect to her companion animals. I don't know enough about her show dogs to say one way or the other, but I doubt they're much different. Anytime you'd mention things like cancer, Addisons, IBD, Bloat, etc. to her, her reaction was "Oh my. I've never HEARD of that....interesting." Give me a break! For breeder of the year, she sure didn't care much about acknowledging any of the common ailments that can afflict these dogs. OR....she just played innocent and didn't care to discuss it with a customer. Maybe she was different with fellow breeders, I'm not sure.

Again, Florence is generally a nice lady and her dogs have wonderful temperaments, but health is a very big concern with her lines, some of which I truly believe she had more control over during the years but simply chose not to exert some of that control. Very bad in my opinion!

Granted, breeding can be a crapshoot even when you're careful, but I would never gamble with a litter's health by breeding dogs that are too closely related or that have genetic issues that can be easily filtered out. I mean, there were times when Florence would constantly have 3 different litters at the same time because she has SO many dogs out there breeding. I think that's very dangerous. Many breeders out there have a max of 2, maybe 3 litters per year, not 3 litters every month or so in every color of the rainbow. I'd hate to classify that as a glorified puppy mill but, you get my drift.

I can only judge Graphic poodles based on my experiences and I have a really hot/cold opinion for the lines. I will admit that as we've owned more of these animals, we get smarter and more educated each time and I admit that I tend to cringe a little if and when I see a Ch. in the pedigree somewhere close, especially if there's more than one.

I'd be curious to know if anybody here as had a similar, or any experience with graphic poodles.

To any breeders out there, I mean absolutely no disrespect to Florence, but we lost both our graphic poodles well before we ever should have, especially Annabelle. I honestly could not see purchasing another Graphic poodle directly from Florence or whomever may be taking over her breeding program.
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Old 04-05-2013, 02:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thank you for the honest feedback about this breeder. I don't personally have any experience with them, but it is good to know, I know Graphic lines are pretty popular. This hits pretty close to home, I too have a silver girl (no graphic lines) and found out that her sire just died at 6.5 years old... although there is no other history of something like this happening in the pedigree, it is very disconcerting.
I really don't get the whole line breeding thing.

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Old 04-06-2013, 06:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I have no personal experience with her. I have spoken to her on several occasions at dogs shows, and on the phone when I started looking for my first standard over 20 years ago.

I do know several people who have had dealings with her and were concerned about her having too many puppies at once as well not being receptive when there is a problem. One would expect a little more support from the breeder after the point of sale.

Having tons of champions does not always equate a good breeder.
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:50 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by onlypoodles4me View Post
Having tons of champions does not always equate a good breeder.
EXACTLY! There are puppy mills and there are ribbon mills.
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Old 04-06-2013, 01:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I was looking at a breeder who has produced tons of champions and her poodles all have a certain look to them. They are beautiful and well known, but I had several concerns along the lines of what you've mentioned, never mind that I could never get a response to any of my inquiries. I want a relationship with the breeder I choose. I want someone who cares about the puppies they breed after they've left their home (not saying this breeder doesn't as I was never given the chance to ask questions). At any rate, I've found a breeder who seems to have the qualities I'm looking for and her lines don't seem to run all together too much.

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Old 04-06-2013, 02:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by schnauzerpoodle View Post
EXACTLY! There are puppy mills and there are ribbon mills.
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I won't speak to any of the things you've experienced with this breeder...or anything about them because I have no experience with them, nor do I know anyone personally with experience with them...BUT you mentioned that it concerned you that the dogs looked like the best across generations. I think the reason breeders breed is to produce healthy sound animals that are able to be beloved family pets as well as fantastic show dogs, that adhere to our breed standard. An underlying reason to breed is to set a look, NOTHING excites a breeder more than hearing someone say "OH that must be a ______ poodle, look at it!" breeders strive to have dogs look a certain way because of their personal goals...while sticking to the standard and I'm actually a little confused that that would be a concern of yours =\
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Heavy line breeding produces less variety. I am sure that is what she was saying. When dogs begin to all look like each other than you know there is a lot of line and inbreeding. That's different than if they have similar heads or something like that.

#1: Health and structural soundness
#2: personality and intelligence
#3: looks
#4: poodliness
#5: athleticism

That's my personal preference. If they are not healthy and also structurally sound then great personalities and terrific looks do not matter.

I have met several of that breeders poodles. I can not attest to anything other than, for my tastes, they were too calm and quiet. I prefer a smart and spunky dog with robust energy. Many people may prefer the laid back sweet personalities, especially in a standard, but I like some zip and eye sparkle. I believe you can get more zip and a smarter dog in a more diverse dog. This is my opinion.

One dog I have seen regularly at the dog park. I was talking to the owner a while back and asked how old their dog was. They said 7 years old. I thought their dog was at least 10, so Big Roo's observation about early aging I have seen in that one dog, too. The three I have met all had calm natures. That is what stuck out about them to me, which as I said, some people may want. The one at the dog park did not play fetch, which was not what I usually think of when I think of a standard poodle (usually fetching machines!).

Big Roo, I am so sorry you lost both your dogs so young. Go for something different this next time.

Last edited by outwest; 04-08-2013 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default My experience....

I want to chime in about Graphic poodles, and Florence Graham. We had a dog bred from a Graphic silver male. We got the puppy from a different breeder, who used a Graphic dog as a sire. Our poodle was a beautiful dog, with an amazing temperament. He did have a lot of health problems. He lived to 11 1/2. We recently visited Florence. She is a lovely person. But her home and dog areas were very troubling. As was the fact that she still had 3 16 week old puppies in her "kennel" area. It was very unclean, and one of the puppies in particular seemed very unsocialized and timid and did not want to be held. She had runny eyes as well. The other two were pretty beautiful and with runny eyes. but all three seemed like they needed a great deal more human interaction. And the filthy condition of her premises was VERY UPSETTING. I left in tears and very distraught. I am going to let the Poodle Club and the AKC know of our experience of her situation. She appears to still be classified as an AKC Breeder of Merit, which is shocking.

Where she may have had a name quite some time ago, I don't think she is a responsible breeder, and it pains me to say that. She seems to have had a lot of health issues of her own, and I think she's just not able to do what she once did. But the bottom line is that her gene pool is too shallow, and she freely admits that she line-breeds. She was telling us that she is looking forward to breeding a grandfather/granddaughter mix. I'm no expert, but that just doesn't seem right when the breed suffers from such genetic problems already. Variation seems critical. And she is very upfront about not worrying about genetics. I am pretty sure that the breeder of our silver boy disassociated with Florence a long time ago, and now I understand why.

I'm sorry to say these things. She seems like a nice person. Her house dogs were lovely, one in particular was a seriously beautiful and loving and playful dog. But the puppies are a huge concern. The poodle rescue I spoke to did NOT have good things to say about her. I was told that she won't release unsold pups to rescue because she doesn't want to ruin her "reputation". What happens to those dogs I don't even want to know. It broke my heart.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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How incredibly sad. If what you are saying here is factual, and I have no reason to believe it is not, this is just terribly, terribly sad. Graphic was once a sought after and highly respected line of silvers. I know Florence is not a young woman, and it would have been great for her is she had brought in a protege and worked with them and let them eventually take over the line while helping her in her autumn years. Breaks my heart. This is exactly what Susan Fraser of Bibelot did. She befriended a younger woman than her, mentored her and they work hand in hand. Deb Drake of Tolka Poodles will eventually inherit the Bibelot name and everything associated with it. It is a great union and takes the pressure off Susan Fraser who is also not a young woman. They are both meticulous about the conditions the pups live in and are diligent about their socialization. Just so very sad.
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