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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, there are always a lot of posts on the forum about how to buy a poodle puppy safely and responsibly and thats great. However, I have noticed that in a lot of the posts there are some information that is relevant to North America but is very misleading for anyone in Europe or looking to buy from Europe. Now I didn't want to comment on those threads as the OP and the commentators are usually all from North America but although we Europeans are in a minority on here I just want to point out some key differences.

If there is interest I can write more about how the different kennel club in Europe, how the breed standards are regulated internationally, how the breeding regulations and traditions vary between countries (and cultural and linguistic cleavages, its rather interesting to see the political/social differences reflected in the dog breeding cultures). The state of parti poodles (apparently becoming their own breed) ect.

However, before I dwelve into that rabbit hole there is a very important point that I want to bring up. Which puppy buyers in Europe must be informed of.

It is actually not standard practice in most European countries (can't speak for all this will vary) to take a deposit!

It is actually considered a major sign of a scam if the breeder asks for money before you view the puppy!!

I am waiting for a puppy who will most likely be sired by an international champion, a very successful line and parents. I have not been asked for nor given a deposit. I was exclusively contacting breeders that are titling, some more successful than others, from breeders who are just starting out and have somewhat new and un-tested lines (show wise, not health wise) to breeders who have been in the show ring since before I was born. All selling puppies in the range of 1500 to 2500 euro range. These were breeders in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France. I was never asked to put down a deposit to be on a waiting list.

If you are in doubt of what is considered to be standard normal practice in your region or country. Contact your national or regional poodle club and see if they have information on their website. If not, try and email the club and ask.

I can write another post about how to find your local reputable poodle club. As in Europe that can be very confusing process too.
 

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I would love to read what you write even though I’m in North America. It would be very helpful for Europeans to have more specific information.
 

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If there is interest I can write more about how the different kennel club in Europe, how the breed standards are regulated internationally, how the breeding regulations and traditions vary between countries (and cultural and linguistic cleavages, its rather interesting to see the political/social differences reflected in the dog breeding cultures).
I am greatly interested in learning about the poodle breed in Europe in general. One of my dreams is to import a dog from France or Belgium, one day. I think their dogs must look different, closer to standard regarding coat and color, at least, as they seem to have very strict rules about not mixing colors and sizes and to enforce them. Breeders seem to have to follow strict regulations on many aspects. It also looks like not everyone can be a breeder, and that’s a very good thing !

It is actually not standard practice in most European countries (can't speak for all this will vary) to take a deposit!
It is not standard practice in Canada either, at least in my province, and I would never give a deposit on a dog, let alone deal with a breeder who asked for one. I’ve never heard of a good, ethical breeder ask for a deposit in my area. I can’t speak for the rest of Canada, but it might be the same.
 

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I would be interested in hearing more too even though I am in North America. I also want to point out that what constitutes a deposit can vary widely in the US. For Lily I gave a larger deposit than either of the boys at I think $300. For Peeves there was no deposit (he was the 2nd dog BF got from his breeder). For Javelin the deposit was $100 and I don't think that check was cashed until after gotcha day along with the rest of the price.
 

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Yes yes - I'm in the United States but would love to hear more about European practices.
 

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That would be enormously helpful! Thank you for doing this!

I've only traveled out of the US twice but I remember the first time, shortly after settling in at the hotel, I went out and walked to the street corner. I looked at all the "foreign" cars, buildings, and people, and it hit me, "they're not foreign, I am."

I try to check the members flag before I offer info but I'm sure I stray to US centric mode.
 

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It is a common practice in the uk now. Deposits are usually taken upon viewing the pups and the rest paid when collecting the puppy. Sadly Covid has changed this and people are parting with their money when seeing no more than a photo therefore cons have also increased
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Better late than never. So lets dive into the rabbit hole of European dog breeding!

First of all, I would like warn those reading to take everything that I say with a pinch of salt. For two reasons, firstly the situation, especially with COVID is always changing and practices that previously weren't common might be picked up just as @Vee has pointed out. Secondly, you can never really talk about Europe as one unit. There are over 50 different states in Europe (depending on how you count) not to mention the linguistic, religious and national cleavages that exist within each of those states. Each country has its own kennel club, which itself might be divided within as well.

Then we have both actual rules and regulations regarding breeding (national laws or kennel club regulations) as well as more informal rules which aren't really regulated or written, its just the way things are done (such as whether its considered to be the breeders place to dictate when or whether a dog should be neutered). These things are going to fluctuate between countries and regions and my experience in finding a breeder in and around Belgium might not reflect someones experience in Latvia.

Please keep in mind as well that things will also be different if you are looking to import dogs from Europe for breeding. For example I wouldn't be surprised if a breeder would ask for a deposit before keeping a puppy long enough to ship it to America.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So you want a European puppy but where to start?

When I started to look for a poodle in Belgium I simply googled 'poodle puppies belgium' or 'poodle breeder belgium' in various languages. Fun fact the dutch word for 'breeder' is fokker, feel free to giggle at that, they won't mind. This was a mistake, the only results I got from that were puppy mills and at best BYBs.

In my experience (again will vary between countries) responsible European breeders are horrible advertisers and often have very little online presence. Those who have websites usually look like they were made in the 90s, have very little information on them and some haven't been updated in months or years. Although I am sure that this is not only true in Europe, from some of the websites of good breeders in North America that have been shared on the forum I feel that the European breeders are even worse for this.

Don't judge a European breeder by the quality of the website. Even if information such as health testing is not on there that doesn't mean that they don't do it. In fact, in some places basic health testing is such a normal expected thing that breeders don't feel the need to put it on the website. In fact, the best glossiest and professional looking websites that I have seen are always puppymills.

Furthermore, don't be afraid to reach out to breeders in countries which you don't speak the language. Google translate will get you far and many breeders travel a lot for shows and have good language skills. Naturally, if you contact a breeder and find that the language barrier is too great for effective communication you might want to look elsewhere, but there is no harm in getting in touch and ask.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So you googled poedel fokker and got no results, what then?

Well you need to find a reputable kennel club and see whether they have a list of poodle breeders (or any other breed you are interested in).

If you don't know the kennel club in the country/countries which you are searching within then what I would advice is to go unto the website of the Federation Cynologique Internationale: FCI members and contract partners and click on your chosen country to find your national FCI club.

For example If you click on belgium you get this website: Accueil
Now the kennel clubs don't always have very user friendly websites but they tend to offer one or two ways of finding a breeder, some like the belgians have a 'find a puppy' function which in this case is called 'info baby dog' where breeders can list their available litters. But I found that, especially now with COVID the general find a puppy function of the kennel clubs are not very useful. Many breeders, if they have a waiting list, don't bother with listing their litters there or don't keep the information up to date. Plus you have to figure out what kind of vetting (if there is any) the kennel club does of those breeders, but I will get to that later. Its always best to find the poodle club.

As you can see on the belgian website there is not clear information on the breed clubs. I ended up looking for the poodles under the 'breed' tabs where I found the name of the poodle club (Royal Club Belge du Caniche asbl) which I then googled. This brought me to this site Royal Club Belge du Caniche which I discovered has recently been updated, yes that is the recently renovated website! 😅 from there I can click on Les eleveurs (breeders) and that gives me a PDF of registered breeders, recent litters and available stud dogs.

I repeated this process with France, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg. To make matters even more complicated, the way that these different countries organise, regulate and present their breeders varies hugely (the German club has 4 poodle clubs). The user friendliness of the website and the information was so chaotic that I wonder at times whether they want to sell their dogs to pet-owners at all!

It got very confusing very fast, trying to navigate websites in French, German and Dutch!

The main practical advice I would give is to make a list, go through the list of breeders of your chosen variety from the breed clubs. Don't be discouraged if you can't find a lot of information about them online. Have your list of questions ready and contact them. Then check them off your list if you find that they don't meet your criteria.

Remember that countries in Europe are often small, unless there are any major practical reasons don't restrict yourself to only one country if possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
But what is the FCI? well its essentially an international kennel club with members across the world and in every European country (except the UK) and they have a partnership agreement with the AKC.

This is what they say on their website:

The FCI makes sure that the pedigrees and judges are mutually recognised by all the FCI members.

The FCI recognises 353 breeds. Each of them is the 'property' of a specific country. The 'owner' countries of the breeds write the standard of these breeds (detailed description of the ideal type of the breed), in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI. The translation, updating and publication of the standards are carried out by the FCI. These standards are THE reference for the judges at shows held in the FCI member countries, but also for the breeders in their attempt to produce top-quality dogs.

Every member or contract partner conducts international conformation shows (CACIB) as well as international working (utility, tracking, nordic tyle, mondioring)/hunting trials and tests (CACIT), international Agility (CACIAG), Obedience (CACIOB) and Dog Dancing (CACID) competitions, international races and coursings (CACIL) and internationa herding trials (CACITR). Results of these competitions/trials are sent to the FCI Head Office where they are processed and homologated. When a dog has been awarded a certain number of awards, it is eligible for the title of International Beauty, Show, Working, Beauty and Working, Agility, Obedience, Dog Dancing, Race, Beauty and Performance or Herding Champion. These titles are homologated by the FCI.

In addition every breeder can ask for international registration of his/her kennel name via his/her national canine organisation.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The FCI is interntional but it is particularly strong and important in Europe. It ensures that a good poodle in France is also a good poodle in Estonia. You can imagine how disastrous it would be if each 52 member countries in the FCI European chapter had their own idea of what a proper poodle is. Allowing countries to 'own' the standard of their breeds is also very important as for most countries in Europe at least our national breeds are a cherished part of our heritage.

Despite the disputed origin of the poodle it is France that 'owns' the poodle breed standard within the FCI.

But why should it matter when you are looking for a puppy? Well it matters for two reasons. Firstly, having an FCI pedigree means that the pedigree of your poodle is recognised across Europe and the world. My breeder is dutch, she is borrowing studs and importing breeding dogs from across Europe without any problems. She can be confident that when the Finnish or Italian judge has said that this stud is a good represenation of the breed that this judge is judging against the same standard as the dutch judge. She also doesn't have to worry about the dutch club not recognising the pedigree of the foreign dogs or their offspring. This is extremely important for European breeders, if they were restricted to the gene pool of their country the inbreeding would be insane.

This also mean that if I want to show my puppy in Belgium its dutch pedigree will be recognised. I would also imagine that this is extremely important for anyone wishing to import breeding dogs to North America, I bet it would be hard to convince the Canadian and American club to recognise a non-FCI pedigree. But again I don't have personal experiences with that.

Just want to highlight as well that when I was looking at puppies I saw some dodgy breeders in belgium advertising that their dogs were '100% belgian'. Now this would be great if they were made out of chocolate but in Europe, especially the smaller countries, a responsible breeder needs to reach out beyond its borders for genetic diversity.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So you want to find an FCI club for the same reason that you would probably look at an AKC breeder first in the US. However, in Europe there is another key reason why knowing your kennel clubs is so important.

As mentioned by others on this thread, many European kennel clubs have VERY strict regulations when it comes to breeding. Now remember what I said about how you can't consider Europe to be one 'unit'. You have to find out what it means to get an FCI puppy in your country. In some countries it just means that the kennel club has to the best of its ability ensured that the puppy is purebred, in other countries it means that the breeder has been subjected to certain welfare rules.

These regulations are both set by the kennel club (general rules for everyone) and the breed club (breed specific things such as specific health tests). If breeders fail to fulfill these requirements then their litter will not recieve their pedigree.

Remember this varies! in some countries the kennel club might encourage the use of health tests and welfare practices (such as age of mother) but don't actively enforce them. It is up to you to research and find out what is behind the pedigree papers in the country that you are buying the puppy!
 

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What are these regulations and how can I find them?

The regulations can be related to the health and welfare of the litter and breeding dogs or they can be related to maintaining the standard of the breed (which colours are allowed to breed together for example).

I found that the best way to wade through the confusion is to try and find out the situation on the national level. Lets start with one of the stricter clubs, Raad van Beheer of the Netherlands. You can find the basic regulations for all breeds, from Chihuahua to the Great Dane here. Don't worry google translate works well on Dutch.

In addition, this is what happens when a Dutch breeder asks for a pedigree:

Between five and seven weeks after the birth of the puppies, a field service employee will come by to chip the puppies. He also takes DNA from the puppies and, if requested, from the parents. This term is a target term and depends, among other things, on when we receive the mating and birth registration and payment. The field service employee always sends an e-mail or an appointment card with a proposal for a date and time when he / she will come by.

To ensure that the field service employee can get started quickly, you can prepare the following forms:

  • Pedigree of the mother dog.
  • Membership card of the breed club; if you are not a member of a breed club for the breed being bred at the time the puppies are born, we will charge an additional charge.
  • Kennel registration card (only for breeders with a kennel name).
The field service employee completes the application form for the pedigrees with chip numbers and colors. At this point the names are also linked to the puppies, so make sure you have a way to tell the puppies apart.

You will receive an 'registration certificate application form' from the field employee for each puppy, which you will need to transfer the puppy to the name of the new owner.


Note that this field employee is not just checking the registration, they are also checking on the welfare of the breeding dogs.

As you can see there are some strict rules on the age of the mother and inbreeding. These are just the basics, then we have the breed specific rules. For example for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel a litter will not be recognised unless the parents have had an MRI scan by specific specialists.

So this is what is behind a Raad van Beheer pedigree.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Does this mean that any breeder who is breeding outside of the FCI clubs is a crook? no, absolutely not. There are some legitimate reasons why a breeder may not want to stay under the FCI umbrella. The strict rules of the Netherlands also don't mean that their dogs are better and healthier than their Belgian counterparts where the club is not as strict.

There are regulations and then there are practices. Just because a club may not enforce health testing and age restrictions it is often the case that the breeders follow these best practices anyway. Especially, as in Europe if you want to have any success as a breeder you have to import and export, if your dogs aren't health tested the breeders over the border can't use your line.

But for puppy buyers it is very important to understand what is behind the pedigree so you can know when a breeder is pulling the wool over your eyes.

When I was living in the UK I often saw ads which stated that the parents were KC registered but the puppies were not. One might assume that this doesn't matter if you are just looking for a pet. After all if the parents are KC you can be certain that the parents are pedigree, you just wont be able to show or breed your puppy. Actually no, what this can well mean is that the breeder has failed to follow the KC regulations (which are much more basic than the ones in the Netherlands) this might include breeding a bitch back to back, or when she is too young or old or that the parents are too closely related.

A European breeder might also give you a convincing story about how they don't agree with their local breed club or had a personal problem with some of the people there. Now this might well be true but as a puppy buyer it is then up to you to figure out whether the breeder is nonetheless following the same breeding welfare and health protocols. In my opinion it is a huge risk, if you are lucky enough to be in a country with a proactive and strict kennel club then take advantage of it. It means that if the breeder doesn't fulfil their obligations that they will be risking the wrath of their peers and not just their puppy buyers.
 

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Thank you curlflooffan! I'm interested in this topic, I would be open to importing a dog from Europe if that's what it took to get the right match.
 

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Thank you so much for this! I started contacting breeders in the UK this month and I asked one of them if her dog was 'AKC' registered 😬. Really appreciate the information on the FCI as well, it's not something i had heard of/ paid any attention to so far so definitely good to know 😄
 
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