Where to Look for Your Poodle
There are a number of places you can buy a poodle, and some are clearly better than others. Since poodles, like all purebred dogs, are subject to genetic diseases, you're best off buying a puppy from a reputable breeder who has screened the parents to try to make sure they're not carrying any hereditary health problems. Unfortunately, many people who sell poodles don't fall into this category. If you can't find a breeder you like, adopting from a rescue group or shelter is another good option.
The Reputable Breeder
To find the ideal breeder from which to buy your poodle puppy (or an adult dog), look for someone who genuinely cares about the dogs he breeds. Such a person will provide health testing and certificates, spay or neuter all “pet-quality” puppies, supply a pedigree and health guarantee, and ask you questions about your lifestyle to make sure you'll be a suitable poodle owner. Stay away from breeders who advertise in the newspaper, breed without doing health screenings, or sell to pet stores or puppy brokers.
If you want to buy a poodle puppy, take the time to research breeders and find one who will sell you a healthy puppy. You can still love a poorly bred pup that suffers from health problems, but you and your poodle will be happier if you're not dealing with a lifetime of health concerns. Be prepared for these puppies to be expensive — whelping a litter responsibly is not cheap.
Price should not be a major factor in selecting a source for a poodle. The money that reputable breeders charge is spent on health tests and good care. It is paid back to you through fewer veterinary bills down the road. Purchase or adoption price is only a small fraction of the money you will spend on your poodle in his lifetime — make sure it is money well spent.
Breed Rescue Organizations
Another way to acquire a purebred poodle is by adopting a dog someone else no longer wants. Rescued poodles are by no means inferior. People often have to give up their dogs for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the health or personality of their pet, and some absolutely wonderful dogs are available through rescue organizations or shelters.
The main difference between adopting a rescue and buying a puppy is that, with a rescue, you don't have the health guarantees. You're throwing the dice a bit, but you're also taking the opportunity to help a homeless animal.
It's not always easy to find a purebred poodle puppy in need of rescue. But adult dogs, particularly of the standard variety, are available if you're willing to do a little searching and a little waiting. Contact the Poodle Club of America to find the poodle rescue person nearest you. Bear in mind that a needy poodle might be waiting for you in another state. If the rescue group allows out-of-state adoptions, you can apply long-distance and go pick your poodle up.
One advantage to adopting a poodle from a rescue group is that, typically, the dog will have been in a foster home. You can talk with the person who has been living with this poodle and get a sense of her personality, how she does with kids or other dogs or cats, and her likes or dislikes. This knowledge will help you select the right poodle to fit your family and lifestyle, and it also helps the rescue organization make the perfect match.
Many poodle rescue people are responsible breeders who are so committed to the breed that they want to help all needy poodles. Expect to be grilled about your suitability as a poodle owner by a rescue group. Rescuers are as careful in matching a rescue poodle with his new family as they are in screening homes for the puppies they breed.
Many purebred dogs end up in animal shelters. According to research done by the National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy, 25 percent of shelter dogs are purebred. So if you're looking for a purebred poodle, don't rule out animal shelters as a place to find one. Bear in mind that if your area has an active poodle rescue group, the animal shelter may call the rescue group whenever a poodle shows up in the shelter. So if you don't see any poodles in shelters, it doesn't mean there aren't any available locally — they may just have already been sent to the rescue group.
If your local shelter doesn't have any poodles when you start your search, ask if they ever get any. They may refer you to a rescue group, or they may put your name on a waiting list so that you can be called should a poodle of the variety you seek become available for adoption.
Shelter animals make wonderful pets. It can be more difficult to tell their real personality when they're in a stressful shelter environment, but often you can take the dog to a get-acquainted room or take her for a walk. Many lifelong connections have been made in a single glance at a shelter.
The Internet has revolutionized the way people find (and care for) their pets. If you're looking for a rescue poodle, you can find lists of poodles available for adoption. One site in particular, www.petfinder.com, is very helpful and user friendly. The database is searchable by breed, size, and location, making it easy to make a daily check to see if the poodle (or poodle mix) of your dreams has become available.
Once you find a reputable breeder, be prepared to wait for a puppy. Good breeders don't breed in great volume, and they usually have a list of people who want their puppies before the breeding has even taken place.
You can also buy a poodle from a breeder via the Internet, though you should use the same criteria for screening a breeder on the Internet as you would a local breeder. More scrutiny is in order, in fact, if you won't be able to see the breeder's facilities. Be sure to check references and get the necessary documentation with regard to health clearances for the parents. If at all possible, pick up your new poodle rather than putting her through the stress of being shipped.