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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone!
I am happy to be here!! I have done my research, and we are happy to be adding a standard poodle to our family. This is my dilemma. I had found a breeder back in January, saw that she did the right testing, uses Puppy Culture, etc. We put down our money and waited. From the beginning, I told her that temperament is the most important factor for me because I would like to train this dog to be a therapy dog. We started on one litter, but moved to another, so we would be the first pick of boys. The litter of 14 was born in April. When I first talked to her, she said that we would be picking three, and then watching them over a few weeks. Since we are the first pick and this litter is sold out, she wants is to pick now, so the other families can pick their puppies. We visited the puppies yesterday, and they were 3 1/2 weeks. She let us pick two puppies (out of 6 boys), but told us that we need to decide by next week. We met the parents, and they both have great temperaments. Holding the puppies yesterday, I could tell absolutely nothing about temperament because the puppies really didn't interact with each other or with us. They were sleepy, cried a little, but allowed us to hold them.

I would like advice - are the parent temperaments enough to chose a puppy or should you really look at the temperament of the individual puppies?
Thank you all!
Karen
 

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There can be quite a bit of variation between pups, but different breeders do things differently. My personal preference is for the breeder to pair pups with owners based on temperament. This is usually done at some point after 6 weeks when the personalities are showing. I didn't know which pup I was getting until 8 weeks. Alternatively another good method is for breeders to describe the pups and guide owner choice to the most suitable one.

Given the way your breeder is doing choices, I'm not sure there is much you can do unless you want to back out of getting a pup. I don't know if you can tell much about personality at that age. I'm not sure why it is so important for you to choose if it only narrows it down to two anyway. If the breeder isn't open to waiting longer then I think you just have to go with your gut and with luck one of them will be a good fit.
 

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As Raindrops said different breeders have different methods for making matches. However I don't think you can tell anything about temperament at 3 1/2 weeks and I am surprised you could visit and hold them at that age (but it is social exposure even to little babies). Mostly people handling pups at that age is upsetting to the moms who are still usually pretty serious about guarding their babies. It actually is probably a good read that the mom let you visit. Not that this necessarily will help you but I first visited Javelin's litter when they were between 5 and 6 weeks old. The purpose was just to see the kennel, meet mom and see the whole litter and their general emerging personalities. At that point Delana was following a boy with an orange collar as a candidate for me since he had a very good nose (for scent work in obedience and for tracking), but he started offering challenges to the girls and I didn't want a girl at all or a boy who would be a challenger to Lily who is a very controlling bitch. We went to pick when they were about 7.5 weeks old and looked at all of the boys. We spent about an hour and a half in a puppy run outside with the five boys and after a couple of votes, settled on the blue collar boy now known as Javelin. Since we had first pick boy we just had to say yes on him. The person who was 2nd on the list for a boy had been there to do his pick visit had been there before us and he really wanted blue collar boy too, but had to give his 2nd choice to reserve his pup. People who came after us for boys were shown only the pups that no earlier person had committed to.

I suspect that you will probably be fine with whichever pup you pick.
 

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3 1/2 weeks or 4 weeks is way too early to pick a puppy based on temperament. If temperament is very important to you, as it should with a service dog, I would think twice before buying this puppy. You need someone who will do it the right way. The way it is now, it’s a gamble.
 

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I'm confused by this breeder's process, and am not sure it's the right way to select a therapy prospect.

Would they consider doing a proper temperament test when the litter is more developed? I think I'd ask, let them know you're not comfortable picking yet, and then consider going elsewhere based on the response.

Have they had any previous puppies become service or therapy dogs?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I am sick to my stomach, as we have been waiting for this puppy since January. I am a special education teacher, so the timing of this was going to work out well with getting the puppy at the end of my school year. I thought I had asked all of the right questions and told her from the beginning my purpose....and that temperament was the most important factor for me. She has on her website that she breeds for temperament and that her first poodle was for a therapy dog for her daughter. She has told me that all of her dogs have great temperament, so it wouldn't matter which one I get. She also said that she has been doing it this way for 20 years.
I didn't sleep last night. I really appreciate your thoughts.....
 

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Would they consider doing a proper temperament test when the litter is more developed? I think I'd ask, let them know you're not comfortable picking yet, and then consider going elsewhere based on the response.
That’s a good idea, but the way this breeder is handling her litter, I doubt she would know how to do a correct temperament test. I know I wouldn’t trust her. What has me curious is why was this not discussed prior to making the reservation ? Was the breeder vague, did she change her mind ?
 

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I am sick to my stomach, as we have been waiting for this puppy since January. I am a special education teacher, so the timing of this was going to work out well with getting the puppy at the end of my school year. I thought I had asked all of the right questions and told her from the beginning my purpose....and that temperament was the most important factor for me. She has on her website that she breeds for temperament and that her first poodle was for a therapy dog for her daughter. She has told me that all of her dogs have great temperament, so it wouldn't matter which one I get. She also said that she has been doing it this way for 20 years.
I didn't sleep last night. I really appreciate your thoughts.....
I really feel your pain here. I don't think I could have dropped out when Misha was that close to being in my arms. If both the dam and the sire have excellent temperaments that you would be very happy with, my bet is that one of the two pups you pick will be a decent fit. I think it's harder with standard litters because there are so many puppies. My dog's a mini and they have smaller litters, so there were only four pups in his litter. Three boys and one girl. The girl was being kept by the breeder, so there were only three pups I could potentially get. I put down a deposit about a week after the pups were born, which meant that I was going with whichever male pup was the best fit. That's fewer options than you get with a standard litter. But of the three, two of the pups had temperaments that would be well suited for me. So it all worked out fine. And if the breeder feels that there's a lot of temperamental stability in her lines, then it's probably going to work out for you as well. Talk to the breeder about your concerns, and try to see if there's any indication of extreme shyness or dominance in any of the pups up to the point that you have to pick. It's possible that some of the traits will start to surface early. But beyond that, just go with what feels right.
 

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That’s a good idea, but the way this breeder is handling her litter, I doubt she would know how to do a correct temperament test. I know I wouldn’t trust her. What has me curious is why was this not discussed prior to making the reservation ? Was the breeder vague, did she change her mind ?
When we originally talked, she said that I could come as much as I wanted and follow three puppies, but I could swich as it got closer to them going home. She made it seem like I could review the temperament along the way. I wasn't specific enough because I thought I would be able to choose down the line. It wasn't until last weekend when I asked at what week we would have to choose....she said next week (at 3 1/2 weeks). I called her right away and told her that this wasn't what we had discussed in the beginning when I had sent her the therapy dog testing I wanted to do. My fault for not being explicit......I had no idea that a breeder would make you chose at 3 1/2 weeks, as I had never seen this before.....this was my naivete.
 

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When we originally talked, she said that I could come as much as I wanted and follow three puppies, but I could swich as it got closer to them going home. She made it seem like I could review the temperament along the way. I wasn't specific enough because I thought I would be able to choose down the line. It wasn't until last weekend when I asked at what week we would have to choose....she said next week (at 3 1/2 weeks). I called her right away and told her that this wasn't what we had discussed in the beginning when I had sent her the therapy dog testing I wanted to do. My fault for not being explicit......I had no idea that a breeder would make you chose at 3 1/2 weeks, as I had never seen this before.....this was my naivete.
It is unusual for sure. I think it is more common for breeders whose buyers pick mainly based on criteria like color. Are there many different colors in the litter? I'm trying to understand why she wants picks done so early. At that age there's no point in getting attached to "your puppy" because they're all pretty similar. And it must be somewhat flexible if you can pick two, so I don't see why it can't be even more flexible than that.
 

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I’m not comfortable at all with this. My breeder had three males, and I had first pick. I deferred and trusted her pick, but not at 3 weeks and she didn’t offer it then. If my recollection of “Too Cute” on Animal Planet is right, they’re not doing much at that stage except being too cute:) Any Volhard testing planned? Don’t be rushed if you want a service partner.
 

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I feel for you. In your shoes I'd get cranky and call off the deal simply out of cussedness. However, I assume you are trying to handle this situation like a rational adult and not like a grumpy cowpony mare. :) Some more thoughts and questions for you, then...

Good temperament comes from both good genes and good socialization. It's unusual that a breeder would let strangers in to handle puppies under 5 weeks. Red flag level of unusual in my opinion. But...it sounds like they are getting socialization. Because of covid, other breeders may not be exposing their litters to new people this year as much as they normally would. Can you find another litter with this level of socialization?

One reason you want a puppy from this litter is so you can work with him over the summer. If you get a puppy this summer, will the covid situation permit you to bring him out and socialize him with lots of different people? If not, would it be better to wait until next summer?

Can this breeder produce the actual OFA reports, not just a claim she does health testing?

If you dig your heels in about being rushed, will you get your deposit back if you ultimately choose not to go with this breeder?
 

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I'm so sorry this is making you feel sick. :( So disappointing this is coming up now, after you put so much time and research and patience into the process. And I'm guessing part of what you're feeling is your gut telling you something is off.

Her puppies may very well all have good temperaments, but a puppy can have a good temperament and still not be suited to the work you wish for him to do. It's not about "good" so much as a good match. Does that make sense?

And the deal breaker for me would be her changing her mind from letting you do your own testing (if I'm understanding correctly?) to forcing you to choose well before it's possible to do such tests. That's just not right and I'm very sorry. I feel frustrated for you!!

Did you research the breeder's name on Poodle Forum? If others here have had good experiences with her and her dogs, perhaps that will put your mind at ease?
 

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I agree with the other posters. You can't tell anything about temperament at 3.5 weeks. What age does she expect people to take their puppies? I see red flags everywhere. As PTP stated, even with a good temperament, the puppy might not be suitable for therapy work. I have two girls with very good temperaments. One is a certified therapy dog and loves the work. The other would be completely traumatized by it. Stick to your guns about wanting to test the puppies at the appropriate age. If the breeder refuses, you have your answer. She is more interested in getting dollars in her pocket and puppies out of her house.
 
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