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Discussion Starter #1
Hello there! I've seen that there are some answers to this already out there, but I wanted to start a new thread.

We will be first time owners, and we have decided to take some time to look for a breeder that is both the right fit personally and with regard to the pedigree and temperament of the parent dogs. We recently worked with a lovely breeder who sadly lost 2 pups and after we took some time we realized that we had some more research to do before we settled on a breeder- although I hold absolutely nothing against this breeder due to the unfortunate loss.

I've spoken with several breeders over the last week, and I'm wondering what everyone thinks of formal, outside temperament testing. I've spoken with 3 long-time (30-40 year) reputable breeders who are members of the Poodle Club of America. 1 does outside testing and 2 do not. They say that after doing things this long they can tell who is going to be more laid back, more of an alpha, etc. innately.

There are also some excellent breeders who I've spoken with on the phone who have been breeding 10-ish years who are not yet members of the Poodle Club of America but are actively working toward membership. Of those, all do outside testing to supplement their own observations; one even does it multiple times if results seem "iffy" on a given day.

All of the breeders who I've spoken with do the minimum, if not above and beyond, amount of health testing. My concern with a "newer" breeder however is that if there are any health issues in their lines, they may not have come up yet. Is this a valid concern? All of the breeders, more or less experienced, have been upfront with any health issues that have occurred.

I have 3 young children and I want to make sure that we are making the best decision for our family.
 

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I follow Puppy Culture (I don't breed poodles though), which is a very well researched and developed program for raising litters of puppies. Their position is that the temperament testing can be helpful in giving the breeder a guide on what needs to be worked on with each pup, but that it has minimal use in determining adult behaviour.
For one, there are so many factors that play a much larger role in outcomes than where the pup is at 7 weeks.
For another, it's not uncommon for most of the pups in a litter to score similarly (which makes sense given genetics and raising) but a good breeder who is aware will be able to compare the pups to each other to be more precise.
For getting a well-raised, socialized pup I do highly recommend looking for breeders that use Puppy Culture, or at least looking into it to get a good idea of best practices (certainly there are breeders that follow some or most of the practices who are not aware of the program).
 

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In regard to temperament testing, I think it is nice to see the results but I'm also fine with the breeder making their own judgement if they have spent lots of time getting to know the litter and have many years of experience. Even with test results I'd want the breeder to agree with the placement based on their interactions with the pup.

I think the health concern is valid, but remember that good breeders still need to bring in new blood to their lines to keep them healthy. So even with established breeders there's the possibility that a new sire will bring an unwanted quality. Good breeders study the lines of all the dogs in their breeding program to try to create continuity and diversity while maintaining good health. Newer breeders often have mentors with much more experience who have helped them choose dogs for their program. What I look for is that the dogs in a breeder's program come from lines that have health testing for multiple generations with good results. I don't just look at, say, a sire's hip scores, but I like to look at the hip scores of his parents, grandparents, and siblings. With standard poodles you have addison's disease which cannot be genetically tested for and often does not appear until later in life. So you really have to look back in the line at the older generations. Good breeders should be able to tell you about the members in their dog's lineage and confirm their health.

As far as puppy raising, I think that using methods like Puppy Culture (there are some others) are great, but a breeder can still raise excellent puppies by managing their own socialization. You can ask them questions about how they're socializing the puppies and exposing them to sounds, textures, and experiences.
 

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I have been breeding poodles for over 30 years. When I have a litter and looking for potential forever homes, I normally start off with an email or two. In my email I suggest the potential client to call me and discuss my plans or my litter. After a phone call or two, I will send them a puppy questionnaire/puppy application. The last part of the questionnaire requests the puppy interested in a puppy to write a short essay describing what the perfect puppy would be for them, as well as a little bit about the environment the puppy will live. I combine all the information,,,,the email information, our conversations, and the questionnaire, then compare this with my observation as the puppies mature in the litter and the results of the puppy temperament test when choosing the proper forever home with the proper puppy.

From the time the puppies are 3 days old through 16 days, I preform the "military exercises" (early neurological stimulation exercises).

REASONING:
Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor stimulation exercises. The benefits noted were:
  1. Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
  2. Stronger heart beats
  3. Stronger adrenal glands
  4. More tolerance to stress
  5. Greater resistance to disease
It is also found that these exercises develop more tolerance to stress this helps project and develop better temperaments.

When my puppies are 49 days old we invite an independent trainer to our home to administer the puppy temperament test. This test should be preformed by a stranger to the litter as well as a location that the puppy has not previously been in.

Puppy temperament testing helps us identify a puppy’s personality to predict—and so manage—potential future problems. Temperament tests measure a puppy’s stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness. By combining our observations, family dynamics as discussed on the phone and in the puppy questionnaire, as well as the results from the puppy temperament test, we are better able to determine which puppy is best suited to live with which family.
Ultimately we want each puppy to be happy and secure in a loving home.
 

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My breeder has been breeding for years but she also has an outside evaluator come to do temperament testing at around 7 weeks as well as another breeder evaluate the litter for conformation. This way she can be certain to match each owner with the best puppy for them. For instance, I do a lot of performance with my dogs - agility, obedience, rally, barn hunt, etc. I want a dog that is high-energy, high-drive and very bold, outgoing and social. That kind of dog, which suits me perfectly, would likely be way too much dog for someone wanting a more laid back family pet who didn't want to do extensive training. Likewise, a dog I had to push and coax to play agility, who didn't have a lot of self confidence on the equipment, etc. would not suit me. I like that my breeder knows her pups inside out from raising them and being around them 24/7, but also that the temperament tester and other breeder are outsiders seeing pups for the first time and that the decision on puppy placement is done in conjunction with all of them.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for all of this information! I do think everyone makes a good point about it being a balance of the owners knowing what they want and the breeders taking the time to properly socialize and expose and observe each puppy and then possibly bring in an outside person and make a match.

What are some good questions to ask breeders about their lines, and how much can we do on our own through OFA? Are there "red flags" on the OFA site? I've seen some "mild" or "fair" hips posted on sires or dams going up to 5 generations back in some lines.
 

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Thank you for all of this information! I do think everyone makes a good point about it being a balance of the owners knowing what they want and the breeders taking the time to properly socialize and expose and observe each puppy and then possibly bring in an outside person and make a match.

What are some good questions to ask breeders about their lines, and how much can we do on our own through OFA? Are there "red flags" on the OFA site? I've seen some "mild" or "fair" hips posted on sires or dams going up to 5 generations back in some lines.
On OFA you can see if there is a trend toward improvement in hip scores in more recent generations. A fair rating a couple generations back would not bother me nearly as much as one in the current dog. You can also make sure any fair ratings are paired with good or excellent ratings when bred. A rating of mild is a dog that should not be bred. It might be on ofa but should not have offspring. I like to develop a general view of a breeder's program in regard to hip scores. Like is it 90% good and excellent, with maybe one fair a couple generations back, or is it 50% fair with no excellent ratings? To me it indicates a difference in selection.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
That's helpful. I see some lines where it says "unknown dam/ sire" 5 or fewer generations back on OFA... is that a red flag, or something that a breeder should be able to answer?
 

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That's helpful. I see some lines where it says "unknown dam/ sire" 5 or fewer generations back on OFA... is that a red flag, or something that a breeder should be able to answer?
I don't think it's a red flag because health testing may not have been as commonplace that long ago. Usually the last few generations are tested I think.
 

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I don't worry about way back generations as long as they have a few. if I find a few breeders I like and (health testing, generations, etc has all been proven) I then I'll visit and watch how the breeder interacts with the dogs, how the puppy parents act, and where they raise the litters and tend to them. That will usually make the choice a lot easier for me.* note I only purchase my poodles as pets so I'm sure I'm not as thorough on some things as owners who are intending to show or otherwis would be*
 
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