CPR policy does not allow us to adopt any dog to families with children under 5. Most rescue groups ask families to wait until the children are 10 but we think 5 is an age when most children can understand and appreciate a canine companion.
Poodles are wonderful companions for older children.
Why 5? Children under 5 are growing and maturing at an amazing rate at this time in their lives. They need to concentrate all their time and attention on that growing and they need you to help. Children under 5 are also learning how to live and get along in our world and they don't yet know or understand and can discriminate between say their stuffed dog toy (which takes whatever a toddler can dish out) to the real thing, with real teeth, and with the ability to be hurt and to then hurt in return. Any dog can and will bite given the right circumstances. Sadly, those circumstances often involve a young child treating the dog in a manner that is way too rough for the dog. Parents are not infallible and you cannot watch both your dog and the child 24/7. There will be interaction between the two alone so we ask that parents wait until their child is over 5 (and that's a benchmark obviously, some children take longer to grasp the concept that this animal can be hurt.) In addition, your child needs you and your undivided attention during this time in their development. That leaves you little time to interact with and properly train a dog who also needs undivided attention. At 5, most children are either in at least a part time educational situation or a full time one, giving you, the primary caretaker, more time.
We routinely rehome all types of poodles because the mix between young child and dog was not a good one. Obviously, in a battle between child and dog for space in the home, the dog will always come out the loser. Because we are striving to put animals into their truly forever homes, we have developed this policy. Last fall, I picked up a chocolate standard poodle just a year old. The owners had paid $800 for her when she was a puppy but as she grew, she was knocking their 2 and 3 year old children down routinely in her excitement to play. Sadly, they decided it was best for her to be in a home where she could receive one on one attention and not be a danger to their children. Just recently we picked up a 6 lb toy poodle from a shelter. The reason on the card? "The kids don't like him." I could relate many such stories to you.
The last time I had this e-mail conversation with a young mother, she was very angry at first but the next day, she e-mailed me laughing. She had just watched her 4 year old pitch a large temper tantrum. She said she kept imagining a dog sitting next to her son and wailing at the top of HIS canine lungs, simply to keep the boy company in his "singing". She said the picture was so compelling, and that while it was funny to imagine it, the reality would have been more than she could have borne. She'll be getting in touch with us again next summer.
I hope you will consider also waiting until your youngest child reaches 5, then definitely considering a poodle. They are marvelous animals and, when introduced to the home at the correct time, can be a companion your children will thrive and grow with.