Here are some thoughts if you’re not sure how to find your new family member: First, if I were you, I’d skip the Sunday classifieds and Google search box (except for fun and follow-up on Poodle club leads). And I’d stay faaaaar away from pet shops that sell puppies. If you have friends or family with a terrific Standard Poodle, consider contacting that dog’s breeder. Another good place to start is the “Find a Poodle” tab on the Poodle Club of America’s home page at www.poodleclubofamerica.org. You can contact PCA’s Breeder Referral coordinators and check the “Find a Poodle” map for PCA-affiliated Poodle clubs in your area. These clubs have breeder-referral members who can help you. They also hold Poodle shows, advertised on their websites, where you can meet breeders. Finding local breeders allows you to visit their dogs before making a decision to buy–and avoids the trauma of long distance travel for your new puppy. Interested in adopting a rescued dog? PCA and its affiliated clubs also have wonderful Poodle Rescue groups that can help.
For help finding a puppy in the Portland, Oregon area, check with the Columbia Poodle Club (www.columbiapoodleclub.com) for breeders who follow CPC Breeders Practices and Policies. If you are interested in an adult, the CPC rescue/rehoming coordinator will know what might be available.
Of course, like other dogs (and humans), poodles can have genetic health problems, so always buy a Poodle from a breeder who does health screenings recommended by the Poodle Club of America (see CHIC Breeds at www.caninehealthinfo.org). For Standard Poodles, these include a minimum of normal hips certification by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or PennHIP, plus OFA clearance for eyes, plus at least one of the following, depending on the dog’s family background: thyroid function test, Sebaceous Adenitis screening, and/or cardiac screening by OFA-approved specialists. The PCA Foundation also strongly recommends DNA testing for the mutations causing Neonatal Encephalopathy and vonWillebrand’s disease, to easily avoid breeding two carriers to each other and producing puppies affected with these disorders. Along with a pedigree and American Kennel Club registration form for your new puppy, a breeder should provide copies of health testing results for the parents (or links to those results on the OFA site) and should give you a grace period to have your new baby checked out by a veterinarian.
As your search takes you to a breeder’s home to meet puppies and their mother, are you comfortable with the breeder and the environment? Have the puppies had the best possible start, raised underfoot in the breeder’s home? Do they seem healthy? Are they outgoing and friendly? Of course, puppies have unique personalities and some are bolder than others, but all should be happy to meet you, tails in motion! Spooky, frightened or withdrawn puppies may indicate an unsound inherited temperament and/or lack of the “socialization” with people and situations that all good breeders provide to prepare puppies for life with their new families. You may be tempted to buy a puppy because you feel sorry for it, but these problems can easily become a scenario of “Maybe you can improve it, but you can’t fix it.” Trust your instincts.
While you’re sizing up the breeder, of course, a good breeder is also sizing you up. Expect some prying questions! Good breeders want to ensure their breed is right for you and that their puppies get good homes. They will have a bill of sale/contract with health guarantee, vaccination schedule, spay-neuter requirements, etc. They’ll want to be notified if you ever must part ways with your puppy and will take it back at any point in its life. Above all, after sending you home with your puppy (generally at 8-9 weeks for Standard Poodles), they will be there for you as an ongoing resource. They’ll also provide other help, such as written tips on feeding and housebreaking, plus suggestions on puppy classes, books and websites to help you build on your puppy’s good start.
Good hunting, and here’s to many happy years with your new friend! I’m always excited for someone about to share life with a Standard Poodle.