You have decided on one of the most intelligent dogs -- the poodle. Before heading to the breeder, take time to consider your preferences and needs. Never settle on just any pup; your best buddy is here for the next 12 to 15 years.
Evaluate what you want in a dog. If you are looking for a show dog, become familiar with the American Kennel Club's guidelines. Choosing a show dog requires a keen eye so ask a breeder to assist you. If you are choosing a poodle as a pet, consider sex, color and personality. Female poodles tend to be leaders and males are more laid back. Of course, a male poodle may have leadership traits, too. Color is a personal preference. Poodles can be black, white, cream, silver, grey, brown, apricot, sable and even blue -- a dark grey with a blue tint. As for personality, the poodle loves to play and loves to please, but each has his own unique traits.
Decide which size poodle works best for you. Toy poodles adapt well to apartment living and are good travel companions. Young children can make the toy poodle nervous, though. Miniature poodles are between the toy and standard in size. They adapt well to apartments and children. Standard poodles need room to roam, and they are good with children.
Look for a reputable breeder. The Poodle Club of America has a list of reputable breeders in your area. Reputable breeders provide a health statement from the vet, a health guarantee, a time frame so you can see if the puppy will fit into your household, a return policy, feeding instructions, vaccination schedule, worming schedule and registration for the American Kennel Club.
Observe the puppies' quarters. Check to see if the puppy food and water dishes are clean and the puppies' bedding is fresh. Look for animal excrement and soiled areas that the breeder has not cleaned. You don't want to select a puppy raised in an unclean environment.
Talk with the breeder to see if she is knowledgeable about the breed. Most breeders care about their animals and want the best for them. Caring breeders will ask you questions and help you choose the best pup.
Observe how the puppies interact with each other. If a poodle puppy is sitting alone and not participating, you may feel sorry for him, but this quiet pet may be difficult to socialize. The aggressive pup will push ahead of the others for food and may jump on the other pups. Unless you have the time and expertise, the aggressive pup requires more time to train. You want an energetic pup that mingles with all the pups.
Pay attention to the pup's appearance. A healthy pup will have a shiny coat, no discharge from the eyes and a little round tummy that isn’t bloated. His eyes should be dark, oval shaped and bright. Check for matted fur. A poodle's fur mats easily and must be brushed every other day. If it's matted, the breeder is not grooming the pup. Look at the ears for mites. Mites will appear as black dots or film. His ears should hang down below his eyes. Check the pup's teeth. Poodles have a scissor bite where the teeth come together with no overbite or under bite.
Interact with the puppy. Pick him up and observe his behavior. Poodles are energetic and want attention. He should be inquisitive and will lick and sniff your hands. Poodles, by nature, are social animals, so avoid puppies that growl, bite or snap. The pup for you will welcome your gentle petting and handling.
- Read about poodles. Become knowledgeable about their health issues, life span and behavior.
- If you are feeling uneasy about the kennel area or the breeder, do not purchase a pet there.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.