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Hi all! After reading through maybe a million posts without making a profile, I decided to finally become a member so I can ask some questions.馃榿

I'm looking into getting my first puppy - a miniature poodle. I grew up with labradors who were trained as duck hunting dogs, but had friends and extended family who had toy and standard poodles. I wouldn't train a mini for hunting - is that a thing? - but I want a miniature poodle because I think poodles are great, trainable dogs and the size would better fit my apartment life. Right now, my aunt and uncle have a standard pup who's almost a year old and my grandparents had black standard and toy poodles from the 60's to the 90's, but having been born in the late 80's I was too young to really remember them. I've wanted a dog for years and have been saving specifically for one for a year.

I've been doing lots of reading online and am honestly feeling a little overwhelmed by all the breeders and information out there. What is your initial conversation/email with the breeder like? Do you fill out a puppy application first or reach out with an email? When you send them an email, how detailed are you about yourself? I reached out to three local poodle chapters in my state and the neighboring state asking for mini breeder referrals, but sadly haven't heard back after nearly a month. Is that normal? I see a lot of websites that were last updated a year ago, is that common?

Anyway, I'm excited to be here and to have a poodle of my own soon!
 

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Hi and Welcome!

Answering a few of your questions first...

I grew up with labradors who were trained as duck hunting dogs, but had friends and extended family who had toy and standard poodles. I wouldn't train a mini for hunting - is that a thing?
You're right that the size of the miniature isn't too conducive to wrangling waterfowl, but they can still compete in related activities.

Check these links out

Standards as hunting dogs

Feeling overwhelmed is understandable. There is a lot of information "out there". Once you get here tho, the amount of info may be just as overwhelming, at first, but it'll be pretty consistent in what to look for and what to avoid.

What is your initial conversation/email with the breeder like? Do you fill out a puppy application first or reach out with an email? When you send them an email, how detailed are you about yourself?
Once you start being able to discern quality, conscientious breeders from the rest, you'll find that they'll spell out their process for you. Some will ask that you fill out the application first, some will appreciate a short email from you or possibly a phone call.

If the breeder meets the criteria for a quality, conscientious breeder that you would like to work with (quite possibly for the next 15 years or so) then shoot a quick email introducing yourself, what you hope to find in a poodle, and why you like what you see about this breeder particularly, and see what kind of response you get.

If you don't get a response within a few days to a week, try calling. No time communicating with breeders is wasted since every encounter is a chance to learn more.

Health testing of the breeding parents is a good indicator of a quality, conscientious breeder. The Breeder List linked below has info on what to look for in the testing for each variety. Mentioning health testing on a site is nice but isn't proof. For proof, look for health testing results spelled out on the breeder's site, then verify for yourself by going to the site the results are published on. If you don't find any evidence of testing or can't find the info but the breeder appeals to you, contact them and ask where you might see the testing they do. Reputable breeders put in a lot of effort to make sure they're breeding the healthiest poodles and will be happy to talk about it.

A caution that a health "guarantee" on a puppy doesn't have much to back it if the sire and dam were not given the testing for breed and variety. "Guarantees" without the testing often favor the breeder, more than the buyer.

Conscientious breeders have a waitlist at the best of times and with pandemic puppy seekers, that wait is stretched well into 2021. There have been more than a few serendipitous contacts between seeker and breeder, so don't be put off by the thought of a waitlist. Also, don't be put off if online sites aren't particularly updated. As often as not, breeders may prefer communicating by phone as well as email or text, and are busy with their dogs rather than keep a website updated.

Be prepared to spend in the range of $1500 to $3000 USD. Conscientious breeders are not padding pricing due to Covid.
Be prepared to travel outside your preferred area.

As a very general rule, websites to be leery of are those that feature cutesy puppies with bows and such, little or no useful info on sires or dams, the word "Order" or "Ordering" (these are living beings, not appliances) and a PayPal or "pay here" button prominently featured "for your convenience".



I reached out to three local poodle chapters in my state and the neighboring state asking for mini breeder referrals, but sadly haven't heard back after nearly a month. Is that normal?
The Poodle Clubs are usually an excellent resource and even in these times, a month without a response seems unusual When you wrote poodle chapters, was it the Poodle Club of __? . If the local Clubs don't respond, try going up the ladder to The Poodle Club of America and search for the referral person for your region.
Phone calls can be as or more successful in making contact.




As a sort of checklist of things to look for or ask, I'll drop my personal criteria (I have another more detailed but just this for now):

My criteria need not be yours but I think it's important for a potential poodle owner to understand why these things matter in finding a conscientious breeder and to get a well bred puppy to share life with for many years to come. Simply being advertised as "registered" or even "purebred" doesn't mean that a puppy is well bred.

Every one of these is a talking point a conscientious breeder will welcome, just not all at the same time :)

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 know of the latest studies in health standards for their chosen breed and variety and do the health testing of their breeding dogs.
They prove their dogs meet breed standards and are physically capable by breeding from sires and dams proven in competition or participating in other activities.
They do not cross breed.
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.




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