Interview with Standard Poodle Breeder Laura Turner from Bijou Poodles
Laura Turner is a dedicated breeder of standard poodles. Her company, Bijou Poodles is located near Toronto, Canada. She breeds rare red and brown standards as well as black standards. In January, we purchased our adorable chocolate brown standard boy, Darwin from Bijou Poodles. He was shipped via cargo on Air Canada and made it all the way to Fort Lauderdale International Airport in perfect condition! So many people are curious about our puppy, poodles and breeding in general, so I asked Laura if she’d answer some of our questions. She said yes!
Bijou Poodles Breeder Laura Turner with some of her browns
How long have you been breeding standard poodles?
Around 17 years
How did you get started in this business?
I was searching for a non-shedding, larger dog that was calm and loving that would be a structurally sound working dog. I then took dog obedience lessons and the instructor was a dog breeder. She encouraged me to attend a fun match. I was so happy doing an activity with my poodle and winning at it. I was hooked. The more I learned the more I wanted to do. The rest is history.
Way too cute reds!
For those who do not know much about standard poodles, can you explain why a person would want one as a pet?
The fact that poodles are non-shedding dogs is probably the biggest draw. Size and ability to protect is an asset. There is no long tail to knock over drinks and small children. But to me the best quality is their total loving empathetic nature. They just know and absorb pain and offer such comfort, and they have a HUGE desire to please. They are very affectionate and have sweet natures. And of course, they are beautiful dogs! They do require a lot of grooming though.
I agree with you. Laura! I’d also add that they are so intelligent and just seem to know what will please you. Darwin is our 2nd standard poodle pet, and the large size (mostly the height) of our first poodle, Gigi, (50 lbs.) shocked many people. Darwin will be MUCH bigger than Gigi was – as his parents are around 80 lbs. What is the standard size of standard poodles? AKC states a poodle over 15” is a standard poodle.
Show dog Hershey, father of my puppy, Darwin
The average weight is 45-55 lbs. and the average height is 24”.
I chose your breeding services over the many others because you have the most comprehensive website and because you breed for health and calmness. You also are very open about the feedback you get from so many past customers over the years, and you care so much about placing your pups into the right families! What else sets you and your poodles apart from others?
I think the fact that we are pet owners first sets us apart. This means that we only own and breed poodles that we’d wish to own as a pet – those that have the calm, stable temperament that will fit in our home and do the activities that we enjoy doing. Although all our poodles are UKC Champions we don’t dwell on that fact. (Click here for info about ow to find an ethical breeder.)
What can you tell us about health issues as far as large purebred dogs? There is a lot of information about large breeds getting more illnesses than ever before.
I think that with more and more purebred breeders participating in and even paying for health studies, we’re finding that the information about purebreds being unhealthy is inaccurate. Mutt or designer breeds can have horrible illnesses and diseases but this will never come to light in any professional study. The reason is because those breeders are not accountable to anyone, nor do they participate in any studies. Purebreds are registered, so there are health registries that compile information on health issues. And this data can be misconstrued to the public on the health of purebreds. Before getting a dog, you should demand that all the conclusive health testing be done on the pup’s parents, to ensure the puppy you are buying has the best chance of being healthy and living a long life. That being said, in today’s toxic environment, dogs (of every breed and background) are dying younger than they used to. Cancer seems to be the greatest life taker.
What does inbreeding technically mean when it comes to dogs?
Inbreeding to me means brother to sister or dad to daughter or mother to son. What we as breeders are using more these days is a tool called COI which stands for Coefficient Of Inbreeding. It is the calculation used to determine the level of inbreeding on an individual dog or puppy. We can then tell how close we are breeding by the number that comes up. The lower the COI number on a 10 generation breeding the less the inbreeding. It is very important to me as a breeder to use these measures.
What are some of the mistakes people make when getting a new dog?
Treating the puppy like a human, instead of being a good pack leader to the puppy is the biggest mistake new pet owners make. Dogs don’t understand the meaning of being treated “equally.” Puppies need a pack leader who gets the best of everything and does everything first. That’s how dogs are naturally in the wild. Pups need consistent rules to live by in order to grow up and be good canine citizens. They want to please you, the leader.
I am so glad you mention this, because we are determined not to make the same mistakes we made with our first poodle. For example, we never trained her properly to stop jumping on people and pulling on the leash as we walked her. And I’d certainly NEVER feed my new dog from the table again.
Our puppy, Darwin at 11 weeks
Can you give our readers any advice about getting through the challenging puppy phase? We are experiencing that right now ourselves!
Some people feel they are being “mean” by restricting a puppy or teaching them rules. A “bad” owner, will soon create a monster puppy that will rule the house even if they have the most submissive, passive puppy. There are many great TV shows that are free to watch that will educate you on how to be a good pack leader, such as “The End of My Leash” and “The Dog Whisperer.” Know that being a leader and teaching the puppy boundaries and what good behavior is, will equal a happy confident, well behaved puppy in no time. And that will last a lifetime! I guess in regard to the trials and tribulations of puppyhood, the saying “this too shall pass,” would be appropriate to use.
Have you ever had any strange requests from potential customers as far as the type of poodles they are looking for?
OH YES… asking me for blue or green eyes, like I can “create” that. Also I have been asked for special custom sizes, either exceptionally HUGE or very tiny. People need to read the breed standard that AKC has online and understand what physical characteristics are possible in standard poodles.
I’m laughing at the idea of someone asking you for a “tiny” standard poodle when there are toys and miniatures! Do most people who buy puppies from you show their dogs?
No, very much the contrary. People who contact me want loving, healthy pets. I have had many breeders contact us for breeding our show puppies, but I decline, preferring to place our pups in pet homes. I am very strict about where or even IF I will sell a puppy for breeding or show purposes, because I wish to know where the pups I produce and their progeny will end up. I feel a huge sense of responsibility for every puppy that leaves my home.
Gorgeous red show dog Ruby, winning an award
What qualities should a person look for in a standard poodle if he wants to show the dog?
A person needs to start with the Breed Standard. Read about it and know it and all the terms. Learn about what a good standard Poodle moves like, feels like and what qualities the judges are looking for. There are some great books out there like The Complete Standard Poodle by Eileen Geeson, that illustrate details of the Standard Poodle structure. Then find a breeder who is showing and has championed many of her poodles. This type of breeder will have the right foundation poodle for you and hopefully will mentor you. When it comes to colour know that the judges are familiar and comfortable with the more common colours. Also the more common colours have had more time to be perfected in type and will have a better chance of winning at an AKC dog show. Most owners hire a professional handler to show their poodles in AKC or CKC because maintaining the dog and doing the required grooming for an AKC or CKC championship is beyond most owners’ abilities. There is also a UKC show venue which is restricted only to owner/handlers. This greatly levels the showing field since owners are allowed to show their poodles in a simple sporting clip (shaved down) with no fru-fru clips you are used to seeing on TV.
As a standard poodle owner, I know all about how much exercise these dogs need. Since I am a major exerciser, I consider this a plus. What do you recommend to new owners?
Pups need a lot of sleep and of course some play or exercise to wear them out. A good dog is a tired dog that is for sure. For walking distance the SPCA’s rule of thumb is five minutes per month of life, so if your puppy is 5 months old then he would need 25 minutes of walking per day. I don’t really find an average sized standard needs a ton of exercise. An adult Poodle would benefit from 2 brisk 20-30 minute walks a day, and this is a great way to bond with your Poodle. A trip or two, to the local off-leash dog park (after being fully vaccinated) is a great way to also meet their exercise needs.
This is so important, because I learned firsthand that dogs who get proper exercise are much better behaved!
In addition to breeding and showing poodles, both you and your husband are firefighters. How do you have time for it all?
My husband offers huge support when it comes to doing the socializing or trips to the vet. We are on different schedules as well, so there is always someone home with the dogs. I have a passion for what I do – and as long as I have that – I will have the energy to continue.
How many adult dogs do you have at your home?
We have 6 at any given time. We do have friends who are raising poodles, who come by when they are due to have pups. Or they drop off their dogs for day care or grooming and to enjoy a romp in our spacious yard.
What becomes of your retired (from breeding) poodles?
We have friends and family members who are familiar with our poodles and have welcomed retired poodles into their homes on occasion. We have also found suitable homes through interviews and/or home visits. The reality is that as small hobby breeders, we just can’t keep every dog. Finding a loving pet home that offers our Poodles the undivided attention and love that our poodles will need and love, is a win-win scenario for everyone. Right now we also have 3 retired poodles living with us.
What do you like best about being a breeder?
I love receiving photos and letters from our puppy owners sharing stories about how our pups have enriched their lives.
From the extensive feedback on your website, I can see how fulfilling that would be! What is the most challenging part of being a breeder?
Trying to produce “perfection.” We strive for the total package, which to me means health (passing all conclusive health testing), temperament (meaning calm and stable), conformation (meets the breed’s standard) and of course obtaining the magnificent, rich, dark colours we are known for. Click here to read about Bijou colours.
Oliver, Cora and Sophie, with their gorgeous fur, pose for the camera
What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about becoming a dog breeder?
I could write a book about the subject! There is a lot to think about, so it is difficult to be brief. Breeding is a huge time consumer, so you will need the whole family on board. A breeder should have a good income to handle all the expenses that arise starting from the initial purchase which could be as much as $2500.00, to completing all of the health testing, the vet bills and advertising to name a few expenses. It is essential to find a good common sense vet that will work with you and not BS you into a lot of unnecessary vet care. People need to shop around for a vet who they trust and one they feel comfortable working with. It would be a huge asset to find an established dog breeder (of any breed) as a mentor who can teach you how to do a lot of your own medical care, and help you with grooming and showing. Also start off with a vision of where you wish to be and what you will wish to do, so that you keep moving in that direction and don’t get off track in your goals. I found dogs I admired and hung photos up to study and help me focus on what I wanted to some day own and produce.
Laura, thank you for all this great information. There are millions of people out there who own dogs or are considering getting a pet and would find your expertise invaluable!
If you would like to visit the Bijou Poodles website, click here. They are located in Toronto, Canada, but Laura can send her pups to you via cargo on a commercial airline safely (note there are restrictions about the time of year pups can fly.) Darwin, my puppy made it to South Florida, warm, happy and in perfect condition in the middle of January. Here’s info about upcoming litters. Email Bijou at brownpoodles @ yahoo.com.
Click here to read our Smart Poodle Comic Strip!
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