I have started my search for a toy poodle but have a few questions I am hoping can be answered before I start contacting breeders
Some of these could seem stupid but I am starting from scratch
What is the acceptable age for toy poodles to usually leave their Mom? For maltese it is 12 weeks, and any breeder who lets them go before then is generally considered not to be reputable.
I groom my maltese myself but he has a straight silky coat. What combs/brushes are used? Are there any techniques to brushing them? How often should they be washed and with what shampoo/conditioner?
Can poodles come in different coat textures?
I do like the classic poodle cuts where the face and other areas are shaved but I think I would prefer to leave them fuzzy all over. Do poodle people/breeders tend to not like this and would a breeder be offended if I asked for my puppy not to be shaved(if they hadn't already been done).
What tests should have been done on the parents prior to breeding? Any for the puppy?
Tail docking - yes? no? personal preference of the breeder?
Lastly, any recommended books, sites etc. where I can learn as much as possible about this wonderful breed?
I think you have a lot of great questions on your mind.
I would contact your local poodle club to start looking for breeders, and of course I am sure there are many people here who could give you excellent referrals.
As for puppy age, I think that people would argue puppies should be homed no earlier than 8 weeks. I think up to 12 weeks is definitely okay, but this would depend on the quality of socialization the puppy will get from the breeder.
Puppies are just these little brains and sensory objects when they're so little. They're absorbing there surroundings, and lots of information. They're going to learn from you who it's okay to meet, who they can play with, what they can play with, what types of behaviors are good and bad.
If a breeder is not introducing them to lots of people at this age, they're creating extra work for you (which isn't too bad, at 12 weeks you still have lots more early socialization time).
As for clipping, that is your preference, but encourage your breeder to do face and foot trims on your puppy. Trust me, socializing a poodle puppy to grooming is one of the most important things you could do, and even if you don't like the look, they will have to get scissored and clipped eventually since their hair grows forever. If your puppy has never been groomed before and is outside of the socialization window period, they could become a handle for groomers (your puppy will need to be groomed, you can't just brush them, the hair literally grows forever) which could become costly for you, and dangerous for your poodle/groomer (squirming, biting, getting nicked from moving too much). It grows really fast though, and it can be cut at different lengths to suit your tastes.
Good luck in your search!
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I hadn't really thought about getting the puppy used to clippers. I didn't clip my maltese until he was almost 2 but he never had any issues with the clippers and I clip him every 5-8 weeks. But, of course he doesn't get his face clipped - just cut with scissors. I know a clippers on their face would be very scary!
How neat that you groom your Maltese yourself... I think it will be easy for you to learn to groom your future toy poodle. It will definitely be different due to the coat type (curly/coarse) and probably more challenging, but I'm guessing you won't have any problems. I groom my minature poodle and I really enjoy it, it's very bonding. I bathe and blow dry him every other week and clip him and shave the face/feet/tail every four weeks. Depending on how long you want to keep the coat, you might want a steel comb, a slicker brush and a pin brush. You will need clippers and blades, and I'm guessing you have shears (scissors) already. Some people have straight and curved shears, but I just get by with straight, although I would love a pair of curved, maybe for Christmas
To answer two of your questions that are actually related (face shaving on the puppies and tail docking): If you want to buy from a reputable breeder who shows her poodles in the United States, the tails will most likely be docked. This is done at a few days old and at that time the breeder doesn't know which pups will be destined for show homes and which will be pets, so they dock them all.
Same with the face/feet/tail (FFT) shaving. The breeder will need to do this, usually starting at 3 weeks of age, so he/she can properly evaluate the puppies to see which will go to show homes. Also, like MaryLynn said, it's so important for the puppies to get used to grooming at a young age since this will be a lifelong routine. Even if you eventually want a fuzzy face full time, I would suggest frequently shaving the face and feet in puppyhood just in case you end up liking the cleanliness that a clean face and feet brings. Poodle hair is like Velcro and EVERYTHING sticks to it. Shaved feet prevent mud and dirt from being tracked in. I also just love the look of a beautiful poodle face.
Once you have your puppy you can get a lot of info here on this forum. We have a lot of groomers here who are also poodle owners. This is how I learned (and also trial and error).
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Age - in the UK the usual age for larger dogs is 8 weeks, although toy breeders often prefer to keep the pups rather longer. For me it depends on how much effort is going into socialising and acclimatising the pups - ideally, they should stay with mum and siblings, and also be having lots and lots of happy, positive experiences meeting people, dogs and the world in general. If for whatever reason the breeder is unable to provide those, I would rather have the puppy at 8 - 10 weeks, so as to educate her myself.
I'll leave the grooming questions to the professionals, except to say that it is a good idea to get a young puppy used to having face and feet shaved even if you intend to eventually go for a teddybear look - it is so much easier to teach them good habits when they are young!
The absolute minimum tests for the parents would be PRA (an inherited form of blindness for which there is a genetic test) and luxating patella (popping knees - you may be familiar with this from Maltese). Pup - usual checks for bite, parasites, hernia, testicles, etc.
Docking - now banned in the UK and most of Europe, but still widespread in the US. You may find a breeder prepared to keep a puppy undocked for you, but I believe show breeders tend to dock just in case the pup is a show prospect.
For poodle grooming, Shirlee Kalstone's New Complete Poodle Clipping and Grooming is excellent - the photos are black and white and rather dated, but the detailed descriptions of methods and equipment are brilliant!
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden,
where doing nothing was not boring- it was peace.
~ Milan Kundera
Last edited by fjm; 11-29-2012 at 10:21 AM.
Reason: I got interrupted part way through typing this - didn't mean to be so repetitive of the other advice you have received!
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You're so right about clipping their face,feet and tail when they are a puppy - just in case I change my mind. My maltese has had so many different looks - a lovely benefit of a dog that's hair grows so fast - can change their styles so often!
For my clippers I have blades #10, 7FC & 5FC.
I think I'd need one that cuts tighter than the 10 though, for face, feet and tail?
I see the advantage of shaved feet now! Things are forever getting stuck in my malts hair on his feet - I keep them very fluffy!
ETA - Thank you fjm! Very helpful advice. Yes, I am familiar with luxating patellas - probably the #1 problem in maltese right now.
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Your malti is just so pretty! Good luck on your venture to get a puppy. You have great questions and have gotten awesome advice... One thing I might add, we LOVE pictures So please keep that in mind... I know I wouldn't mind seeing more of your malti too
"I know that dogs are pack animals, but it is difficult to imagine a pack of standard poodles ... and if there was such a thing as a pack of standard poodles, where would they rove to? Bloomingdale's? " --Yvonne Clifford, American actress
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