Hi and Welcome!
Not knowing your experience with dogs in general and poodles and selecting a quality poodle breeder, here's some things to be aware of.
We often hear from folks that they just want a pet. What doesn't seem to be common knowledge is that the kind of quality, conscientious breeders I, for one, prefer to support are always breeding for the very best poodles they can. It isn't pet puppy vs show puppy, it's lucky us, the ones wanting a pet who get the pups that have some small "fault" that might reduce their chances of winning competitions, but are flawless to us
Getting a puppy from a quality, conscientious breeder is something like insurance. Their investment in the health, welfare, and soundness of the puppies they offer to new homes is part of the reason you're not going to find a less than $2000 USD puppy from them.
The saying is "pay the breeder or pay the vet". Price alone isn't the only thing to separate quality breeders from those less than. We've seen members quote as high and even much higher pricing for pups from parents not health tested, not proven to meet breed standards, sold as purebred when only a DNA test could determine that since they may be sold without registration papers.
Health testing of the breeding parents is a good indicator of a quality, conscientious breeder. The Breeder List 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 and provide the info.
Look for and verify OFA/CHIC level testing at a minimum. Poodle specific DNA panels for those testable conditions are companion testing with the OFA/CHIC testing.
Look Up A Dog | Orthopedic Foundation for Animals | Columbia, MO (ofa.org)
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.
Read thru any contracts that may be listed. If they rule out coverage for conditions that the breeding pair should or could have been tested for, consider that a caution flag. Otherwise, are the terms clear to you and can you live with them?
Conscientious breeders have a waitlist at the best of times and with pandemic puppy seekers, that wait is stretched well into 2021-2022. 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.
When you start making contacts, let them know if you're open to an older pup or young adult.
Color preferences are understandable but keep in mind that you're limiting your options even further in a very limited supply of puppies. Many poodle colors change thru their lives.
Temperament is lifelong trait.
Be prepared to spend in the range of $2000 to $3500 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".
An excellent source for breeder referrals is your local or the regional or national Poodle Club. An online search for "Poodle Club of ___
(your city or state)" will find them. You can also go directly to the national club site.
Some Poodle Club links are in the Breeder List.
As a sort of checklist of things to look for or ask, this is 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.
Be extremely cautious of puppies sold thru pet stores, or online marketplaces like puppyspot, puppyfind, kijiji, craigslist, classified ads, etc. Many of these puppies will be mill puppies and while you may get lucky, the odds are against you and that sweet puppy.
One additional caution, be very wary of those very cute short legged poodles. That's a genetic mutation which may carry serious life-altering disease.
GEOGRAPHICAL BREEDERS LIST AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES PLEASE READ THIS FIRST What this list is NOT: This list is not an endorsement of any breeder by Poodle Forum This list is not a list to just go buy from without doing more investigation This list is not comprehensive What this list IS: This...