How to Choose a Poodle Puppy: A Complete Guide
There’s an old saying: a dog is for life, not just for Christmas. We often say it to children, besotted with the
idea of a fluffy companion, not with the routine of walking, cleaning, and looking after their pet.
But it’s solid advice.
Choosing a dog is more than just selecting an animal. It’s picking the next ten or so years of your life. It’s
choosing a friend and family member who’ll follow you everywhere.
Thankfully, you’ve chosen to purchase a poodle!
Whilst we may be a little biased, we’re confident that poodles are one of the greatest breeds of dogs.
They’re intelligent, charming, loving, and gorgeous looking. And that’s without acknowledging their
hypoallergenic coats. They call poodles the 2nd most intelligent dogs for a reason. That means owning a dog
that’s that easy-to-train and where the bond goes that little bit deeper. Truly man’s best friend.
But just because poodles are a fantastic breed doesn’t mean mistakes can’t be made. It still pays to be
prudent when purchasing a new dog – poodle or not. So, you’ll need to do the relevant checks on both the
breeder and dog. You’ll need to know how to select the right poodle puppy, looking at health, appearance,
and personality. And you’ll need to understand how to bring your new puppy back, welcoming them lovingly
into your home.
Sure, it’s a big responsibility. But it’s worth it!
Selecting the right breeder
First, before you even see a poodle puppy, you need to research a responsible breeder. According to the
Kennel Club, 20 per cent of puppy buyers don’t research the breeder before purchasing their puppy, and
36 per cent spend less than 20 minutes or less finding where to get their dog.
The result: around 15 per cent of such puppies experience illness, vet treatments, and even worse, death
in their first six months. (That’s three-time higher than for puppies more carefully chosen.) So, take your
time! It’s easy to get swept along with the process – especially if you’ve never owned a dog or a poodle
before. And who doesn’t fall in love with each puppy they see. But taking the time and consideration to do
a little background research goes a long way.
What to do:
Good breeders will happily spend time chatting with you on the phone. They’ll organise a visit for you to
meet their pups – along with their mum and siblings. They’ll go the extra mile to guarantee that you and
the puppy are a good fit. And they’ll answer any questions you have. In short: a good breeder is honest,
open, and wants the best for their pups.
If you take the time and effort to select the right breeder, you can spend nearly 20 per cent less on vet bills
throughout the dog’s lifetime, according to Agria Insurance statistics. Especially if you choose from one of
the prestigious – and albeit more expensive – Kennel Club Assured Breeders. They’ve received a visit from
a trained assessor and comply with their rigorously high welfare standards.
However, there are a few legal protections for which to look. First, ask to see their Local Authority license,
which is a legal requirement for breeding and selling pets for money. You may also want to use a Puppy
What is the Puppy Contract?
A Puppy Contract is a tool designed to provide puppy buyers with all the relevant information to make an
informed decision before purchasing a puppy. It guides prospective buyers through the process. It also
offers some questions on what to ask (though we’ll cover many of these in this article). It’s also legally
binding – a rock-solid contract between the breeder and yourself.
For more information on the Puppy Contract, check out their website.
Warning signs of a bad breeder
Most breeders are fantastic and passionate. They love their jobs and the pups they breed, ensuring they’re
healthy and happy. But unfortunately, some only want to make money – at any cost. Such breeders place
profit before puppies, sacrificing their health and their standards in the process.
Here are the warning signs to look out for:
Delivers the puppy in a strange or unusual location, such as a car park. Poor breeders will be
reluctant to show you their premises and the conditions in which the puppies were raised. If you
receive such an offer, red lights should begin to flash in your mind.
- Won’t let you see the mother. Excuses like ‘the mother is at the vets’ or ‘is asleep’ should not be
accepted. You should never purchase a puppy without seeing the mother. As a rule, if the mother
isn’t there, then the puppy was bred elsewhere.
- Registrations aren’t a guarantee of quality. If a breeder tries to fob you off with their Kennel Club
registration (or such similar validation) in place of actual vaccination and health records, do not be
drawn in. This is a clever but deceitful trick. There can be no substitute for genuine, accurate
- Pressures you into spending money. Consider where the breeder’s priorities lie. If they’re trying to
pressure you into purchasing the puppy – rushing the process – then chances are they’re an
inadequate breeder. If, instead, they’re focused on ensuring a good match, then they’ve likely taken
care and attention during breeding.
- Passes off health complaints as normal. Sure, there are certain conditions associated with certain
breeds of dogs. However, puppies should always be in the best state of health when born. So, if
you notice a puppy snoring, limping, or generally being “off,” it’s important to question their health
Following these tips won’t guarantee you the perfect puppy. Still, they will weed out the cons from the
genuine, passionate breeders.
Next, it’s vital to meet the puppy in person. To see if there’s a connection and to spend time ensuring
they’re healthy. For that, you need to know what to look for…
What to look for in a poodle puppy: Health
Now, you’ve found a responsible, passionate breeder; it’s time to start choosing a puppy. However, before
you get too excited, remember our mantra: a puppy is for life, not just for Christmas. And that’s not just
your life; it’s theirs too.
That means you have a lifetime of health risks with which to contend. Anyone with even a passing familiarity
with pets knows that’s an expensive business. Therefore, selecting the healthiest pup you can is essential.
But how do you know?
Inspect the area
First up, you’ll want to inspect the area. Look for food and water near the pups in clean dishes. Examine
the surrounding environment, and ensure that it’s also clean – and, of course, ensure mum is close by. All
these may seem like basics, but they help determine the outcomes of a pup in their first few months.
Puppies raised in squalor never do as well as their well-cared-for kin.
Pedigree vs. Crossbreeds
Most of us are familiar with the genetic problems inherent to certain breeds. Poodles are no different.
Years – even centuries – of refining a breed’s characteristics has left some unfortunate consequences.
These can be avoided if the breeder has done genetic tests to select the healthiest mums and dads. Ask to
see their records.
Theoretically, crossbreeds should remove some of these problems. By mixing two different gene pools, you
avoid the extreme similarities of inbreeding – the so-called ‘hybrid vigour’. Except, in the worst-case
scenario, a pup can inherit problems from both parents. For instance, if you’re purchasing a poodle mix like
a labradoodle, check that both the Labrador and Poodle parents have been genetically screened. That way,
you remove any doubt from the equation.
Here are some of the most common poodle health problems:
- Bloat: Deep-chested breeds like poodles are at risk of gas becoming trapped inside the dog’s
stomach. This slow-digestion causes pressure to build up (20 per cent mortality rate).
- Addison’s Disease: A condition of the adrenal glands, leading to extreme calm behaviour, slow heart
rate, and dehydration.
- Thyroid problems: Either low or high thyroid conditions can occur in poodles. Symptoms are
notoriously difficult to identify, however.
- Hip dysplasia: Here, the ligaments holding the hip ball-and-socket joint together are weak or
underdeveloped, leading to a dislocation or relocation—the risk increases as the poodle ages.
- Epilepsy: A neurological disease in which the dog will be prone to seizures.
Vaccinations and health checks
Once you’ve asked about the genetic problems of the parents, focus on the health of the puppy itself. You’ll
want to know if the puppy has received their vaccinations and undergone a health check. Vaccinations are
typically conducted by twelve weeks or older. They occur in two stages, and at the time of purchase, the
puppy should have received both. You can guarantee this by checking the serial numbers and certification
of the vaccines.
Vaccinations usually cover:
- Canine distemper
- Adenovirus 1 and 2
- Canine parainfluenza
Additional vaccines your poodle pup may need include:
- Kennel cough: a nuisance disease, but not often dangerous.
- Rabies: not legally required in the UK or US, but essential if you’re taking your dog abroad.
The breeder conducts health checks through a local veterinary surgeon. Ask to see the results. However,
many breeders also require that buyers independently take the puppy to a vet of their choice within a week
of the sale. This protects both parties and prevents future conflict.
A health guarantee is non-negotiable. So long as all the paperwork is in order, you can move on to assessing
the other aspects of the puppy.
What to look for in a poodle puppy: Appearance
When assessing the poodle puppy’s appearance, there are some general features to look for and some
aspects specific to poodles. Here, you are inspecting for key indicators of good health and ensuring that
the poodle meets the breed’s standards.
First, begin to interact with the puppy. You’ll want to give them a good rub so that you can feel their body
beneath their coat. Nutritional disorders or malnutrition (from poor breeding standards) will obviously
present as the pet being underweight. Underweight puppies rarely have the same survival odds as their
well-fed kin. However, be aware that poodle pups often weigh significantly less than their fluffball fur
Alternatively, the pup may be a little overweight. This is much rarer – as they’ll have been relying on mum’s
milk in the early days and weeks.
Next, run your fingers through their coat and take a look at their skin. The quality of a dog’s skin and coat
is a major indicator of its underlying health. You’re looking for a thick, glossy, and luxurious coat. In poodles,
their coat is the most defining and iconic feature. Rich, fluffy fur is an absolute must.
Other areas to check include the puppy’s ears, eyes, and nose. Examine for any signs of wax, smell, or
discharge. Such discharge is unlikely in poodles; their eyes should look bright and clear with no redness.
Their nose should also look clean and moist – any signs of discolouration may indicate an underlying issue.
Finally, take a look at the dog’s feet and nails. There should be no signs of being cut or torn. Although again,
such signs are unlikely in a young poodle.
Overall, poodles are well-formed and proportioned dogs. They have a definite elegance about them, with
a long, pointed head and chiselled features. Their jaws have a perfect scissor bite – meaning the upper
teeth closely overlapped the lower teeth (the full set of 42 teeth is ideal).
Poodle coats come in various colours, including creams, reds, browns, apricots, silvers, and blue. According
to the Kennel Club, clean colours are preferred, with non-solid colours being regarded as undesirable.
What to look for in a poodle puppy: Personality
Poodles have been a firm favourite of dog lovers for centuries. Being first bred in Germany, since the 15th
century, the breed grew in popularity in France and Spain, and then eventually in England. However, like
many of the smartest breeds of dogs, in their native Germany, they were bred for hunting. But that doesn’t
mean they don’t have a playful side. Indeed, their name is derived from the German ‘pudel’ or ‘pudelin’ –
meaning to splash.
All these factors and more have gone into creating the temperament of poodles today. So, what can we
Second only to Border Collies, poodles are highly intelligent. That means they’re often firm favourites in
competitions, being readily trainable. Unlike other breeds, housetraining is much simpler. But with a high
intellect, poodles do love to be the centre of attention. Most poodle lovers adore this about their dogs. It’s
what makes them such charismatic and sociable pets.
It also means they’re playful and active. No matter whether you’re adopting a toy or standard poodle,
they all love to retrieve sticks and balls in the park or mess around with a hose and water. With bags of
energy at their disposal, ensure you’ve got a park nearby to expend all that extra vigour.
Of course, you might have guessed that a smart and playful breed would also be an extrovert. Poodles
love people (and other dogs). So, if left alone for prolonged periods, boredom turns to neuroticism. But if
you’ve got a vibrant and active household – with people coming and going – your poodle pup couldn’t be
happier. Just remember to socialise them early, and teach them the dos and don’ts of playing nice.
Failure to set firm ground rules during the critical socialisation phase – 4 to 14 weeks old – can lead to
highly strung poodles. This comes from either being over-pampered or ignored. At worst, some dogs can
become biters. Otherwise, you can expect incessant barking whenever a stranger enters their “territory” –
poodles love to keep alert. And they’re naturally wary of strangers.
Nevertheless, with the right upbringing and training, poodles display extraordinary emotional sensitivity.
They’re able to pick up on subtle cues, forming intense bonds with their families. If there’s tension in the
home, expect your poodles to know before you do. And remember, your stress is their stress. So, if you
notice your poodle playing up, look at the family dynamic for clues.
However, if well socialised, their emotional tenderness makes poodles phenomenal companions for
children and other animals. They’re just so full of love.
How to collect your poodle and bring them home
Ok! You’ve finally picked the perfect poodle puppy for you and your family. You’re excited – and probably
a little anxious – now that the big day has arrived. You’re bringing your new family member home!
But unlike you, the poodle pup doesn’t know what’s happening. No one has let them know that they’re
moving home. That’s why it’s important to put time and consideration into how to make their first
experience of your family and home a positive one.
Here are some key tips to keep in mind:
Give your pup time
When you first arrive at the breeder’s home, spend a little time letting your puppy adjust to your presence.
Hopefully, you’ve spent a fair amount of time with them before, so you’re at least a little familiar with their
personality. Stay relaxed and calm, constantly reassuring your pup. Then, when it’s time to leave, let the
puppy say their goodbyes and give them plenty of attention as you take them away.
Travel breaks and safety
Not all breeders live around the corner. To reach your new puppy, you may have travelled a hundred miles
or more. That journey for people is tiring, for a puppy isn’t another experience entirely. Remember to
secure the puppy’s crate while travelling and keep the car well-ventilated during the journey. Also, keep
the crate out of direct sunlight – otherwise, it’ll get very warm inside.
Take regular breaks on the journey back, keeping the pup well-hydrated and giving them the option for
toilet breaks. And never leave them alone in the car. Aside from making your puppy anxious, dog thieves
will seize any opportunity available.
Keep calm and play
Once home, take the time to sit and play with your puppy. They need to gain confidence in you. A top tip
is to take a blanket from the breeders that has a familiar smell of home. It will help settle the pup, both on
the long journey and at home.
Don’t overwhelm the poodle puppy, however. If they need a little space or they feel a little frightened, take
the opportunity to show them their bed. They need a place where they feel secure and safe. Still, it would
be best if you didn’t leave them alone for prolonged periods. Instead, regularly check up on them and if
they’re ready, come back and bring them over to play.
First few days
In the first few days – and weeks – puppies will sleep little and often. Their days will be interspersed with
eating, going to the toilet, and playing with their new family. Nevertheless, it’s important to begin toilet
training straight away so the habits become ingrained.
Check out our guide on poodle potty training.
As for feeding, don’t offer up large portions – that’ll only upset their stomach. And provide lots of fresh,
And that’s it! Your complete guide to choosing a poodle puppy. Follow these key tips and steps, and you
won’t go far wrong. Now, you can enjoy getting to know your new companion and integrating them into
your family. Poodles are wonderful pets, and you couldn’t have chosen better.