How to Select a Standard Poodle

Find out all you can about standard poodles before you select one.
standard poodle with ball image by MichMac from

A purebred dog should never be an impulse purchase. Before you buy a purebred standard poodle, you should know how to properly select the dog that is right for you, a poodle that is healthy and from a reputable breeder. Take some time before you even look at dogs or puppies to understand the breed you’ve chosen. Become familiar with the breeder before eventually choosing a dog. By going through the proper steps before taking your dog home, you’ll be more likely to have a healthy, well-adjusted poodle that fits well with your family and lifestyle.

Do Your Homework

Step 1

Research the specifics of the breed so that you are prepared as much as possible to ask questions as you go through the selection process. This includes learning about genetic diseases that are common for standard poodles, including epilepsy, hip dysplasia and optic ailments. You will want to ask the questions necessary and obtain the guarantees necessary to minimize the chance that the dog you select will be afflicted by any of these problems.

Step 2

Learn about the conformation standards of a poodle. Having this information will allow you to examine the dog you are considering to be certain there are no important structural problems. For standard poodles, the description includes approximate equal length and height at the withers, moderately rounded skull, straight muzzle and long, flat ears hanging close to the head. Many people think the poodle’s coat is curly, but it can also appear corded in some dogs and still be considered standard. If you are not knowledgeable about poodle structure, take someone who is an expert along with you when it's time to select your puppy. Even if you are not looking for a show-quality dog, it still is important to know that the dog you select has good structure.

Step 3

Talk to a groomer to find out how much time and money is involved in grooming a standard poodle. Knowing this beforehand is helpful, as it allows you to include it in your budget and prepares you from the start for the grooming commitment you’ll need to make.

Step 4

Research breeders who have litters for sale. Call the ones you’re interested in to find out how many puppies are available and when they will be old enough to leave the litter. Ask for references, and contact them to find out about the poodles that have come from that breeder in the past.

Meeting the Puppy

Step 1

Interact with the litter and watch how the puppies relate to each other, their mother, the breeder and you. As you observe the different personalities and temperaments, you’ll get an idea of which puppy you want to take home.

Step 2

Observe the physical condition of the entire litter, but closely examine the puppies you are considering for your final choice. A poodle puppy’s eyes should be clean and bright, with pink lids and no tearing or discharge. Her nose should be cold and wet but not running; she should not be sneezing. Her ears should be clean, with no odor, and her teeth should be straight and white, and should not be overshot or undershot.

Step 3

Ask to see the puppies’ nest, if you aren’t meeting the pups in the area where they are being kept with their mother. Their bed should be clean, demonstrating that the mother and the breeder have been keeping it sanitary. Puppies that have been raised in clean environments are easier to potty train.


Step 1

Find out if the breeder is a member of the American Kennel Club and the Poodle Club of America. Breeders who keep memberships and affiliations with breed clubs and organizations are generally interested in maintaining the standards for breeding set by these organizations.

Step 2

Ask the breeder why the litter you’re considering was bred, why he selected the sire he did for the litter, and how often a litter is produced. The answers will give you an idea about the breeder himself. Those who breed their poodles more than once a year or who breed to “pay the bills” don’t have the best interests of the breed in mind. A good breeder should be able to explain at length why he chose the parents of this litter.

Step 3

Ask the breeder to provide copies of health tests on the parents, as well as records of the puppy's vet visits and vaccinations. This documentation should be on hand by the time the breeder starts showing the puppies to prospective buyers.

Step 4

Answer any questions the breeder might have for you. A responsible breeder will want to know that the puppy he is selling is going to a good home where the owners understand the breed and will provide for more than just the basic needs of the dog. He will want to be assured that you understand the financial commitment you need to make for routine health care and grooming. Don’t be surprised if the breeder also makes it a purchase requirement for you to keep him apprised of your poodle’s development.

Step 5

Discuss with the breeder the contract or genetic health guarantee he provides with his puppies. Know what genetic problems you should be concerned about, ask the breeder about the occurrence of those problems in the puppy's bloodlines, and make the absence or presence of a guarantee part of your overall decision-making.

Step 6

Sign a spay/neuter agreement with the breeder, if you are buying the dog as a pet and if you are asked to do so. This will further assure the breeder of your intention to provide for the dog as well as guard against unplanned litters once your standard poodle reaches maturity.


  • It may take more than one visit with the litter before you make a final decision on which puppy you want, but remember that other people will be making their selections too. Take time to make the right choice, and take the breeder’s advice on the puppies’ personalities and suitability into consideration as well. He knows them better than anyone, and if you have judged that he is a responsible breeder, his views should be worth hearing.

  • Sometimes the puppy is as much involved in choosing as the humans are. Stand back to see if one separates herself from the litter and chooses to follow you instead of playing with her brothers and sisters or following her mother.

  • If you would like to adopt a standard poodle instead of buying a puppy from a breeder, you can easily locate a breed rescue program through your vet or on the Internet.



About the Author

Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.

Photo Credits

  • standard poodle with ball image by MichMac from