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My wife and I had a red standard poodle who passed away in 2015 at the age of 11 years due to congestive heart failure and cancer. We are in the market to adopt another standard poodle. We have found a potential breeder in Florida. What questions should we ask the breeder?

Is there a way to find out if a pup is predisposed to any health issues?

Thank you in advance for your input.
 

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This is in the form of a list but these are all things I look for in a breeder:

My ideal breeder is someone who is doing this because they love the breed. They want to see each new generation born at least as good as the previous, ideally better. They provide for every dog in their care as if that dog is their own. They will be there for the new family, and stand behind that pup for it's lifetime, rain or shine, with or without a contract. They will know the standards and pedigrees of their chosen breed, health and genetic diversity of their lines and breed to better them.
They will have as many questions for me as I do for them. They invest in their dogs. They don't expect the dogs to support them.

Breeding Program
! to maintain, improve, strengthen the breed
by breeding to standard, for health and genetic diversity,
and will prove their dogs meet these standards by showing or competing
or by breeding from titled parents. It's not the title, but what it shows
participate in breed club
! focus is on quality, never quantity

Breeding Parents
! registry information available
! not too old or young for breeding
! not overbred
! genetic health testing done appropriate to breed and variety
! other health testing such as eyes, hips
! results of testing on own website, OFA site or testing lab
see Health Related Publications - Versatility In Poodles, Inc.

Living Conditions
! in home with family
! breeder allows, even encourages home visits

Puppies
! routine and urgent vet care, immunizations, dewormings
! socialization
! first groomings
! registry papers
! health "guarantee" generally favors the breeder, not the buyer.
health guarantee is no replacement for health testing of dam and sire.
! spay/neuter is not required before physical maturity
beginning housetraining is a bonus
temperament testing is helpful

Advertising
! individual website to detail history of breeder, goals for their program
! information on dams, sires, puppies
! no trend pricing for color, gender or size,
! no marketing gimmick terms like "teacup" "royal"

! Anything not found on the website should be provided by breeder before buying
If a breeder wants me to believe that they believe in their dogs, they won't stop the investment when it comes time to find the new families. If they want to cut costs by using free advertising sites like craigslist or listing on retail marketplaces like puppyspot or puppyfind, or other classified ad sites such as newspapers, I wonder what else they've cut costs on.
Is there a way to find out if a pup is predisposed to any health issues?
The health testing of the parents is the best means to avoid predisposed issues in the pups. The results must be provided to you either (preferably) by finding them published on the OFA site or on the testing labs site. Be sure to know what tests are used for the different varieties by using the link above "Health Related Publications Versatility in Poodles inc".

A health "guarantee" almost always favors the breeder. There's no basis without the genetic and other health testing being done on the parents. There are no true guarantees of health just better odds by doing the proper testing before breeding.

Not knowing or asking if you're in or just near Florida, but if Louisiana isn't too far, NOLA Standards is a member here, and breeds beautiful standards.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
  1. This is in the form of a list but these are all things I look for in a breeder:

    My ideal breeder is someone who is doing this because they love the breed. They want to see each new generation born at least as good as the previous, ideally better. They provide for every dog in their care as if that dog is their own. They will be there for the new family, and stand behind that pup for it's lifetime, rain or shine, with or without a contract. They will know the standards and pedigrees of their chosen breed, health and genetic diversity of their lines and breed to better them.
    They will have as many questions for me as I do for them. They invest in their dogs. They don't expect the dogs to support them.

    Breeding Program
    ! to maintain, improve, strengthen the breed
    by breeding to standard, for health and genetic diversity,
    and will prove their dogs meet these standards by showing or competing
    or by breeding from titled parents. It's not the title, but what it shows
    participate in breed club
    ! focus is on quality, never quantity

    Breeding Parents
    ! registry information available
    ! not too old or young for breeding
    ! not overbred
    ! genetic health testing done appropriate to breed and variety
    ! other health testing such as eyes, hips
    ! results of testing on own website, OFA site or testing lab
    see Health Related Publications - Versatility In Poodles, Inc.

    Living Conditions
    ! in home with family
    ! breeder allows, even encourages home visits

    Puppies
    ! routine and urgent vet care, immunizations, dewormings
    ! socialization
    ! first groomings
    ! registry papers
    ! health "guarantee" generally favors the breeder, not the buyer.
    health guarantee is no replacement for health testing of dam and sire.
    ! spay/neuter is not required before physical maturity
    beginning housetraining is a bonus
    temperament testing is helpful

    Advertising
    ! individual website to detail history of breeder, goals for their program
    ! information on dams, sires, puppies
    ! no trend pricing for color, gender or size,
    ! no marketing gimmick terms like "teacup" "royal"

    ! Anything not found on the website should be provided by breeder before buying
    If a breeder wants me to believe that they believe in their dogs, they won't stop the investment when it comes time to find the new families. If they want to cut costs by using free advertising sites like craigslist or listing on retail marketplaces like puppyspot or puppyfind, or other classified ad sites such as newspapers, I wonder what else they've cut costs on.


    The health testing of the parents is the best means to avoid predisposed issues in the pups. The results must be provided to you either (preferably) by finding them published on the OFA site or on the testing labs site. Be sure to know what tests are used for the different varieties by using the link above "Health Related Publications Versatility in Poodles inc".

    A health "guarantee" almost always favors the breeder. There's no basis without the genetic and other health testing being done on the parents. There are no true guarantees of health just better odds by doing the proper testing before breeding.

    Not knowing or asking if you're in or just near Florida, but if Louisiana isn't too far, NOLA Standards is a member here, and breeds beautiful standards.
    Very informative. Thank you so much.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all for your input. Based on everyone's input I created a list of questions (approximately 2 pages of questions). I sent my questions to three different breeders. Two of the three have not responded to my questions. The third breeder wrote, "[t]hanks so much for your inquiry, but this is too much for me!"

Do you all think two pages of questions is too much? I just want to make sure the breeders are testing the health of the parents. It is absolutely heartbreaking to see your dog having health issues and I want to reduce the probability of my puppy having any genetic disorders.

Also, for my own information, between what ages should a breeder be breeding the parents? How many times should the breeder breed the parents before retiring them from their breeding program?

Thank you all.
 

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Assuming that the health testing and general info about the breeding parents is at the top of your list, try a different approach.

Write a brief note about yourselves and the kind of home you'll give to a new family member then mention why health testing is so important to you and ask what health testing they do and where the results can be seen.
Start with something like that and see how they respond. You'll need to know what tests should be done to know if they're doing proper testing.

If they say it's been done but it costs too much to list it or they'll let you see it after you send a deposit or anything except these are the tests we've had done and here's where you'll find the results on record, then I'd probably pass.

Open the conversation with the breeder and if they meet your most important criteria then ask the next round in the next exchange.

You might even start with the simple intro then ask when is a good time to speak on the phone because you have questions and hope they will have questions for you. A conscientious breeder is going to care very much where the babies they've raised are going to spend the rest of their lives :).

Once you get a conversation or email exchange going, a lot of the questions will naturally come up.

Something to remember, heart issues and cancer aren't yet something which the parents can be lab tested for like with known genetic issues within a breed, but the history in the pedigree, which the breeder should know, can be known.
_
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For breeding age of the sires and dams, it's generally suggested to hold off til at least 2 years old. This is not only for them to reach physical maturity but to also see if untestable health or temperament issues appear. The sires can also be studded longer than the females can be bred, The reasons shouldn't be hard to deduce :). For diversity, I wouldn't want to see the same pairings repeated very often, if at all. That's not all there is to diversity in poodles. If you get curious, look up the Wycliffe Effect and the Mid Century Bottleneck. Because of those, most standard poodles are still, generations later, quite closely related. This is a link to a study:

A female can be bred up til around 7 years, especially if she hasn't been bred frequently. I'd feel better if some of our breeders would step in here for this question. I may be being conservative but I wouldn't want to have a puppy from a mother who's been bred too often. I'd always be wondering if the dam was ever going to get a break.

I found an older but valuable link to a thread here on PF with several of our breeder members weighing in on the breeding frequency and age of the females:


Stay in touch!
 

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While I am not currently breeding, I did breed standard poodles for quite a few years. I would not breed a female until she is, at the very least, 18 months old - 2 years is much better. She should have been tested clear of genetic diseases and should have no dogs with genetic diseases for at least 3 generations back. I would not breed a bitch more than three times and there should be an absolute minimum of a year between litters. I would not breed a bitch who is over 7 years old.

I strongly prefer to breed to males who are at least 2 and who also have tested clear and who also have 3 generations of healthy ancestors. I would want to know if that male has produced any pups with genetic issues (assuming he was bred to bitches who had tested clear). The age of the sire is of no concern.

I am not opposed to a reasonable amount of line breeding - or even inbreeding of exceptionally fine dogs. That said, there has to be a very good reason to breed closely related dogs - that kind of breeding should be left to persons who have extensive knowledge of the backgrounds of the dogs involved. Keep in mind that breeding closely related animals (any kind of animals) is how you "set" breed characteristics. There would be no purebred animals without some close breeding!
 

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I have to chuckle that the breeder said 'this is too much'. That's not really a good sign. To be fair, re-read your 2 pages of questions. Edit anything that is like a book or that is not clear & concise, beyond that... 2 pages is not unreasonable. I know breeders sometimes get some real weirdos & time-suckers. So I'm always sensitive that they might just be tired of those types contacting them.

When I go on a puppy hunt, I know what I want. If my questions are too much then so is my $. That's blunt but it's fair. I never bred Poodles. But during the time I bred an occasional litter of working dog pups, I worked 2 jobs, managed my farm, had a husband in the military, trained horses & dogs, promoted my breed, taught dog professionals the fine art of handling the aggressive dog, wrote training articles, gave demos all over on what I'm trained to do with dogs. You make time for what's important. If I didn't have the time to deal with puppy owner-hopefuls, then I would not have bred the litter. That's also blunt but it's fair.

The longest I had was an hour & a half phone conversation with a couple followed by 18 PAGES of questions. They were good questions & those people were thorough. I answered each question, returned it to them. I set up a time after they had reviewed everything. They had more questions. (Of course they would). I later set up a meeting with them. I knew from this interaction that while they were careful, husband & wife were not on the same page but I had a solution. I met with them & took them to introduce them to a breed & a breeder who had a very special line. She'd been breeding Rottweilers on a very small scale. Her Rotties were champion babysitters of small dogs, small farm animals, wild bunnies, etc... but they had the instinct to protect, it just wasn't on the surface. The husband got the big impressive tough looking dog. The wife got the lovely sweet natured dog who was so good with kids. Everyone was happy. I made $0 but about 10,000 smiles in the 13 years Daisy was with her family & a bucket of tears we cried together when the old girl died in her sleep on the foot of their youngest child's bed.

Nope, I didn't have that kind of free time, are you kidding. Back then I carried a planner with my life planned hourly but I made the time. Why? It was the right thing to do. I haven't bred a litter in enough years that all my puppies have passed yet I still get emails & calls for advice, could I help with a training issue in this new dog they have, could I advise on a new breed or breeder, etc... Of course I will because I built trust with them & I'm not going to blow them off because I'm busy. They reach out because they trust me... just as a pup looks to me for guidance in training. I don't drop the people or the pup. My Giant Schnauzer & my Malinois came from two of the busiest breeders I've ever known. Big time busy people. The Giant's breeder gets emails by the hundreds daily yet she's always had time for my questions, concerns, or a need for information.

So my advice is simple. Find a breeder who has time for your 2 pages. In the long run it will be worth it to have someone that you can reach out to a few months down the road to if the need arises. Breeders should understand you ask questions because you don't know the answers yet. That's important.
 
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