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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello everyone!

we are meeting a toy poodle breeder on Sunday and I am very excited. She was recommended by our local toy poodle club and has a good reputation for lovely apricot and red pups. We are travelling about 2 and a half hours to see her so I want to make sure I ask all the questions I need to!

We will not be having a pup from this current litter but she has another bitch she is hoping to breeding later in the year and so that could be our chance to be poodle parents. We just really wanted to meet her, see her dogs and their living arrangements and habitat ahead of getting to that stage.

So where do I start with what to ask?
I am keen to know about health testing and parent lines and backgrounds.
Is there anything I should be aware of and take note of?
Are there any signs I should look out for which would be a big no, or even a big yes?
What other questions should I be asking? Are there things I need to be aware of when looking at mum, dad and the litter as well as looking at the puppies?

thanks in advance for your help,
We are very excited but really want to get this right!
 

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As sort of a start (and I apologize for the US-centric presentation) I'll drop in my personal breeder criteria list, only to give you some talking/asking points with the breeder. I've also added links to The Kennel Club and Champdogs for things to ask and look for as well as the health testing requirements for The Kennel Club.

For things to be aware of when looking at the poodle family:

Are they clean and nicely groomed?
What do their living quarters look like? Clean and well kept?
Do the poodles live in the home with the breeders family? Are they comfortable around the breeder? around you?
Do the poodles seem healthy? happy? interested in what's going on around them?
If there are puppies at least 6 or more weeks old, can you watch them play? Are they active? hesitant? do they approach you?

My Personal Criteria
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.
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
! focus is on quality, never quantity
! they do not cross breed
! they limit breeding to one to two breeds
! they limit breeding to only a few litters per year *

Breeding Parents
! registry information available
AKC Registry Lookup
! not too old or young for breeding
! not overbred
see Asking questions from a breeder
and Frequency of Breeding a Bitch
! genetic health testing done appropriate to breed and variety
! other health testing by exam such as annual eye, hips, patellas
! results of testing on own website, OFA site or testing lab
see Health Related Publications - Versatility In Poodles, Inc.
and OFA Lookup https://www.ofa.org/look-up-a-dog

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
! they will not require spay/neuter before physical maturity
! health "guarantee" generally favors the breeder, not the buyer.
health guarantee is no replacement for health testing of dam and sire.
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.

* Many people prefer small scale breeders because they feel the puppies will have better socialization and it's very unlikely to be a puppy mill-like operation.
This doesn't mean that larger scale breeders can't do things right. The breeder of record may not be hands on with every pup or poodle on the place but they should make sure that all the quality of life and attention are paid to all their dogs.

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.



United Kingdom

Champdogs Things to ask and look for



The Kennel Club

Home
The UK’s largest organisation dedicated to the welfare of dogs. We offer owners and breeders information and advice on dog health, training, activities and breedingwww.thekennelclub.org.uk

Things to ask and look for

Kennel Club UK Health Testing Guidelines
Potential dog owners should be aware that, at present, the application of various health screening results to breeding programmes is not always straightforward, and breeders may make choices for various reasons. A responsible breeder though, will always be willing to discuss relevant health issues with you. Breed clubs are often useful sources of breed-specific information.

Toy Poodle

Schemes or advice relevant to this breed
The following schemes, tests and/ or advice are mandatory requirements for Kennel Club Assured Breeders. All other breeders are strongly advised to use these schemes, tests and/ or advice.

DNA test - prcd-PRA
It is strongly recommended that both Kennel Club Assured Breeders and non-Kennel Club Assured Breeders should use the following schemes, tests and/ or advice.
Eye testing

The list above is not necessarily comprehensive, other available health tests can be found at DNA screening schemes and results or for further advice please contact your local breed club.
From <Health Information for Poodle (Toy)>

Miniature Poodle

Schemes or advice relevant to this breed
The following schemes, tests and/ or advice are mandatory requirements for Kennel Club Assured Breeders. All other breeders are strongly advised to use these schemes, tests and/ or advice.
DNA test - prcd-PRA
It is strongly recommended that both Kennel Club Assured Breeders and non-Kennel Club Assured Breeders should use the following schemes, tests and/ or advice.
Eye testing
The following other schemes, tests and/ or advice are available and should also be considered.
DNA test - OC
The list above is not necessarily comprehensive, other available health tests can be found at DNA screening schemes and results or for further advice please contact your local breed club.
From <Health Information for Poodle (Miniature)>

Standard Poodle

Schemes or advice relevant to this breed
The following schemes, tests and/ or advice are mandatory requirements for Kennel Club Assured Breeders. All other breeders are strongly advised to use these schemes, tests and/ or advice.
BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme
Eye testing
It is strongly recommended that both Kennel Club Assured Breeders and non-Kennel Club Assured Breeders should use the following schemes, tests and/ or advice.
Breed Club test - Sebaceous adenitis
The following other schemes, tests and/ or advice are available and should also be considered.
DNA test - vWD
DNA test - prcd-PRA
DNA test - PRA (rcd4)
The list above is not necessarily comprehensive, other available health tests can be found at DNA screening schemes and results or for further advice please contact your local breed club.
From <Health Information for Poodle (Standard)>
 

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How exciting! I assume the pups will be KC registered, so the key questions I would want to ask are:
Have the parents been health tested to at least KC minimum recommendations (prcd-PRA DNA test; eye testing)?
What is the breeder's policy in the unfortunate event of the puppy manifesting a congenital issue after coming home with you?

Most other information is from observation, as described above. You will probably still be somewhat limited by Covid restrictions, but should be able to meet outside and get an idea of how the dogs are kept and the puppies raised. I don't have a problem with pups being kept in good kennels and runs for much of the time as long as they are also accustomed to life indoors - much better out in fresh air and sunshine than restricted to one room indoors. As the breeder is happy to meet with you at this early stage I think you have very little to worry about - to me it speaks of someone proud of their dogs and puppies, who wants to get to know their prospective owners well in advance.
 

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Once all the health issues are resolved (the previous posters gave great info on that) I care most about the litter's living conditions. How socialized are they? My personal first choice is a litter that lives with the breeder, not in an outbuilding.

I'm looking for a healthy people-oriented dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hello everyone- just a quick update and honestly in need of some advice and opinions.
*warning it’s long and in detail

so we met the breeder I had been in contact with last Sunday. It was a 5 hour round trip but I felt it was really important for us to do and I’m really glad we did.

the puppies were kept in an open crate in the kitchen but without mum- they were just over 7 weeks old. The breeder says she does this so they do not have detachment issues when they go to their new home’s and has done this for years, the feedback from clients being that apparently the puppies settle easier into their new homes and don’t cry for mum. They are weaned from 3 weeks onwards and moved from mum at about 6 weeks. Has anyone heard of this before?
I will say the puppies were gorgeous and loving- one was very quiet and not interested and sat away, but the others were calling for attention and wanted to play and give kisses.

We did see mum separately. Breeder has an annex attached to the house which had a groom room, sleeping quarters and large play area for her 10 dogs. She said she is no longer part of the KC breeders list (but showed us paperwork and also said how she established the assured breeders scheme) and did not renew her breeders license this year as she is looking to do a few more litters and retire as she is in her 70s. She also said the next litter would not be registered as a KC litter as it would be one too many she had bred this year.

She said she had bred them for over 35 years and also showed and competed but due to famiky health and age has stopped that now and just breeds. She said all her dogs parents had been health tested and showed their certificates- should the breeding dogs also have these papers too?

She mentioned that when she no longer has use of a dog she moves them on to people she knows and has homes lined up for them- is this normal? I felt sad hearing this and felt they were being used to breed it seemed but maybe this is common amongst show breeders?

the dogs also seem to be kept primarily in their quarters and rarely come into the home, they run in the garden and she alternates walks? I know she has a lot but they seemed to be restricted to their annex. They were all groomed and looked after and were beautiful and seemingly healthy.
the boys we met were quite nervous however, and cowered from us and shook and barked at us. She said they were territorial and she also had bitches in season they were separated from, due to social distancing she was not with us in their pen so said this would be another factor to their nerves.

all in all I’m not sure what to feel. I have always had home reared pups in a family environment. Her dogs are so gorgeous and she is just one of a few breeders who specialise in the colours we truly love. We could Potentially have a puppy waiting for us come December after waiting for 2 years.
Should we be questioning more?
Please share your thoughts on the above with us. I had yorkies before poodles and just want to make sure we are doing right by our future fur baby!

thank you in advance x
 

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I think I would also have mixed feelings about the breeder you visited. She sounds generally very good but a few things would concern me. When you say the dogs' parents are you talking about the breeding dogs? The dogs being bred are the ones who should have health testing. I think it is a bit sad they are separated from mum. Some separation is fine and gives the mom a break for sure. But I know my dog was able to see his mom until I got him at 10 weeks. The parents continue to teach them lessons. Mine did cry a lot at first but he settled in okay. So I do not really like the six week separation. I would also be very concerned about the temperaments of the dogs. Fearful and barking sounds like exactly what I would least want in a dog. Maybe they are under socialized but that is not great. I know both of my dog's parents were nothing but friendly and welcoming. I certainly wouldn’t write this breeder off but I would probably look for other options. My feeling is that if I don't love the parent dogs then I don't want to risk not loving one of their puppies.
 

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Peggy's dad was the most happy-go-lucky guy you'd ever meet, and she still tends towards fear-based barking and growling. I know your hopes are so high right now, but I wouldn't gamble on a puppy whose parents weren't both lovely.

I'd also struggle to support a breeder who was allowing her dogs to exist in that fearful state, tucked away from regular home life. The shaking especially just doesn't sound right to me.

Puppies learn a lot from the adult dogs in their life.
 

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If I were titling my response, I'd have a new category for describing breeders. This one would be what I'd call the But...Breeder. Not to worry tho, the final But is where you come in :)

First, I need to remind that I'm in the US so it may be that things are done differently elsewhere, so I'm not judging, only commenting/comparing.

the puppies were kept in an open crate in the kitchen but without mum- they were just over 7 weeks old. The breeder says she does this so they do not have detachment issues when they go to their new home’s and has done this for years, the feedback from clients being that apparently the puppies settle easier into their new homes and don’t cry for mum. They are weaned from 3 weeks onwards and moved from mum at about 6 weeks. Has anyone heard of this before?
I find it unusual that the puppies are separated from the mum at that age. In the US, toys are generally kept with their mum and siblings til 10 weeks old. If it's occasionally only, that may be a good thing But if it's a "no contact after the separation except occasionally, if at all", I feel that's a disservice to the pups as mum still has a lot to teach them in those later weeks. It sounds potentially reasonable But...

one was very quiet and not interested and sat away, but the others were calling for attention and wanted to play and give kisses.
For most people, the obvious choice would be one of the rolling boil of pups. I'd definitely want to know if the quiet one was well (and personally would be drawn to that pup because I think they may need more than the playful pups but that's me - not suggested or recommended for most) and to make sure the rest weren't going to come down with something.

We did see mum separately. Breeder has an annex attached to the house which had a groom room, sleeping quarters and large play area for her 10 dogs. She said she is no longer part of the KC breeders list (but showed us paperwork and also said how she established the assured breeders scheme) and did not renew her breeders license this year as she is looking to do a few more litters and retire as she is in her 70s. She also said the next litter would not be registered as a KC litter as it would be one too many she had bred this year.
What did you think of the mum?

It seems the breeder has decided not to renew her standing with the KC because she's planning to breed only a few more litters then retire But she is apparently breeding over a limit presumable set by the KC?
It seems the dogs are none of them house dogs, except the puppies, But are they raised in the house or just brought in for visitors?

She said all her dogs parents had been health tested and showed their certificates- should the breeding dogs also have these papers too?
If I understand your question, yes the breeding parents of the litter you will choose from should have had all the proper testing done prior to breeding But if all 4 parents of the breeding pair were tested and found clear/normal/good/excellent etc in their results, then the parents of the litter can be considered cleared by parentage. That exception is allowed for the one generation only in OFA (which is primarily US/Canada based).

She mentioned that when she no longer has use of a dog she moves them on to people she knows and has homes lined up for them- is this normal? I felt sad hearing this and felt they were being used to breed it seemed but maybe this is common amongst show breeders?
It's not unusual for a breeder to retire their breeding dogs and send them to new homes where they will live out their lives as a family pet But this should be with a spay/neuter requirement in any agreement. They, especially the females, should not be sent out to parts unverified to be bred til they drop.

the dogs also seem to be kept primarily in their quarters and rarely come into the home, they run in the garden and she alternates walks? I know she has a lot but they seemed to be restricted to their annex. They were all groomed and looked after and were beautiful and seemingly healthy.
the boys we met were quite nervous however, and cowered from us and shook and barked at us
I personally prefer small breeders who keep their dogs in the home But it's not unusual for a breeder to keep separate quarters for their breeding dogs and litters.

The statement about the behavior of the boys concerns me. If those are their dogs too, they don't sound to have been properly socialized But even if not their dogs, that description of temperament concerns me.


Now, to the final But, and where you come in.

You are doing everything you can to learn and find a pup best suited to your family, from a breeder that you believe is doing all they can to send out the best dogs they possibly can.

It's not often that a breeder is going to meet or exceed every expectation. At some point, you will need to decide which risks you are willing to take as nothing is ever truly guaranteed in life But only you can decide what you will be comfortable with in the risk taking.

This is when I look at the contract to see what the breeders requires of the new family and to see what the breeder will do in the event of ____.

Since this breeder is speaking of retiring soon, I wouldn't expect a lifetime of the pup health guarantee (on the tested conditions). I wouldn't expect a lifetime takeback of the pup if something should happen within your own lives. In fact, I'd look to this breeder for no more than a few years of support, whether questions or actual action on their part.

Consider what you're comfortable with and what you're willing to handle on your own.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi Raindrops

I had high hopes as she was recommended by a few breed specific clubs, but still feel confused.
Yes sorry, I struggled to explain but yes, the parents of the dogs who are breeding now, so therefore clear by parentage. Is this still okay?
I really felt sad they were separated too- she said that they go back with her for the nights but morning and rest of the day they are kept separate. I had never heard of this before. Even that they poodle pups leave at 8 weeks, for toy poodles I was told it should be 10 weeks so again is this too early for them?
It was strange, there was another bitch in the house who was so loving and playful and warm to us, but she wasn't their mother and is the dog they seem to allow in the house most. My partner said perhaps there was a reason why she was allowed to see the potential clients and frolic with them rather than the others and it really had me thinking.
I am keeping the breeder on the back burner, and still looking for other options, I have had contact with 2 other breeders who have puppies but these are black. Colour was not a major thing for me but the reds stole my heart first, and after seeing them I am even more besotted.
I am just a very confused person. Would it be worth going to see a black litter- even if it is just to compare how they are kept vs these pups?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Peggy's dad was the most happy-go-lucky guy you'd ever meet, and she still tends towards fear-based barking and growling. I know your hopes are so high right now, but I wouldn't gamble on a puppy whose parents weren't both lovely.

I'd also struggle to support a breeder who was allowing her dogs to exist in that fearful state, tucked away from regular home life. The shaking especially just doesn't sound right to me.

Puppies learn a lot from the adult dogs in their life.

I agree and feel so torn. My head and heart are being pulled in two different directions.
I am hoping to find another breeder that I can compare with but it feels like the impossible right now.
I think parent's temperaments are so important so felt s bit deflated. I felt sad the dogs were so shaky too.
 

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When I was looking for my pup, I had color preferences and vowed to never get a black pup. When I found my breeder, I struggled with the fact that the two available male pups were jet black. One of the many pros on my criteria list was early neurological stimulation, which the breeder met. When I looked at all of the pros and cons...the color became a flexible criteria. Temperament of the puppy and the puppy's parents were non-negotiable criteria.
 

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I also didn't want a black poodle. I love photographing my dogs and Peggy's puppy face just disappeared in most light.

When I told the breeder about this, she said, "Yeah, many people feel that way. But don't worry. We'll find her a good home."

And I felt like such a jerk. Lol. Peggy chose us from the moment we met her, and I was going to walk away because of her colour?

If you're really set on red (I get it, I desperately want a silver poodle one day) then it's going to take longer to find a puppy. And that's okay. It's a trade-off. But I recommend only compromising on your timeline, not the health and temperament of your future companion. :)

And yes, I think you should absolutely go see a black litter if you can. The more you learn about breeding standards, the better equipped you'll be to choose the right puppy for you.
 
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