An historical breed
We've long appreciated historic architecture and art, culture and literature, and the importance of preservation of historical things seems obvious. to most people Poodles are certainly living history, originating from a pan-European land race of curly coated dogs. Standard poodles, Portuquese Water Dogs, Spanish Water Dogs, Irish Water Spaniels, Old English Sheepdogs, Pulik, Komondor, Dutch Wetterhunden, French Barbets, Pudelpointers, Lagotti Romagnoli, and more are all descended from similar European dogs. Some are retrievers, some are herders, some are water dogs, and all are part of European culture. Humankind's general love of a big shaggy dog has never lessened.
Standard poodles have been said to originate in France as well as Germany, but in fact they predate shifting European borders. They also are not specialists, but generalists. They do it all, which is why they were bred to be extremely intelligent dogs. While now they are known as "posh" and fancy dogs for the upper class, they were in fact the poor man's dog. Rich men had gamekeepers and kennelmen who cared for packs of hounds or pointers who hunted for one thing. They had terriers to keep their manor homes vermin-free and sheep dogs and livestock guardians to keep their herds safe. They had lap dogs to keep their children warm and sweep up all the fleas. Poor men had enough room and food to keep one dog - and that one dog had to earn its keep. That was the poodle.
Imagine our shock and dismay, therefore, when we learned that most standard poodles now descend chiefly from one very successful kennel's five founders who were born in the 1950s. We quickly got interested in finding remnants of old lines around the world. It has been a real challenge, but we've managed to find a few good dogs less related to most of the population. It has taken a great deal of research and heartache finding dogs, raising them, and deciding how to proceed. Some have turned out well, and some of our favorites did not. Breeding dogs well is not for the faint of heart. We couldn't do it at all if not for knowing a group of other breeders dedicated to the same ends.
We look for a balance of temperament, health and structure in our dogs. These are all very complex genetic traits, and as such require diversity in breeding. We want our dogs to be intelligent, intuitive, robust and handsome. We look for moderate structure based on historical breed standards, which describe how a poodle should ideally look. Most older standards are not highly specific, which allows for some variety in type, all of which is correct. This is smart, because diversity in type shows diversity in genes, which is well known to be healthier. We do not breed for extreme traits, such as extra long necks, extra long legs, extra high tailsets, extra long muzzles, since breeding for extreme traits we like for aesthetic reasons usually also causes extreme traits we don't like.