After months of consideration, you have finally decided to add a new member to your family–one with four legs and a wet nose. You have scoured the web for the perfect breed and narrowed your choice down to a few remaining options.
Whether you have chosen the humorous-but-elegant pug or the family-oriented lab, thorough screening of breeders is crucial. There are specific questions you need to ask any breeder to certify you are buying from a dependable source.
All of the breed research in the world is worthless if you don’t visit a trustworthy stock raiser. Whether it’s a Lab breeder or a German Shepherd breeder, the goal is the same. You want to find the best match for you and your family, and the breeder is your middleman.
Questions to ask about your breeder
Before you begin questioning your potential breeder about the dogs they raise, you need to ask questions about the breeders themselves. You can get a feel for your breeder in two or three quick questions.
How long have you been breeding dogs?
If you have not purchased a dog from a breeder before, you’ll want to know how much experience they have in the canine business.
Breeders with multiple years of experience are significantly more trustworthy than those who have only bred dogs for a short amount of time. Long-term breeders also have further insight into bloodlines and the parents of your potential future dog.
Do you have vaccination and health records for each dog?
Before taking your new best friend home, check with your breeder to ensure they have had all their shots and tests. Ask for printed documentation of the following vaccines:
Most states require you to have your dog vaccinated against rabies by law, so having documents printed and ready to go on adoption day keeps you from cutting too much red tape. You also want to take home a healthy dog, so you’ll want to vet your puppy’s vet records.
What environment are the puppies raised in, and do they have room to roam?
No matter the breed, puppies love to play, so asking your potential breeder about their environment offers valuable insight into how well the dogs socialize.
The environment becomes a particularly relevant question when you are considering a high-energy breed. If your prospective pal cannot play well with other dogs, aggression and hyperactivity are much more likely.
Questions about the puppies
Now that all of the boring human details are out of the way, it’s time to ask about your potential pooch. There are few better resources about your breed than a specialized dog breeder, so now’s your time to ask questions.
Doing your due diligence will help you ensure you pick the right dog for your family and lifestyle, as well as give you pointers on taking care of your new addition.
1. Can I meet the parents?
By far, the most obligatory question is asking to meet your puppy’s parents. It might seem like a weird request, but meeting your dog’s lineage gives you insight into the conditions the parents live in, potential health risks, and genetic disorders.
For example, some breeds are susceptible to kidney disease and diabetes. Inquire if the parents (or their parents) have ever had these issues and the likelihood of their offspring having the same experience.
If the puppies’ parents are unhealthy, it doesn’t bode well for your dog’s genetic lottery.
2. What are their personalities?
Temperament is critical when searching for a puppy. Ask your potential breeder about the personalities of each dog and the typical attitudes of the breed.
If you are laid-back and want a relaxed dog to chill out on the couch with you, a puppy with tons of energy may not work well. But, if you want a travel buddy or a friend for your kids, a dog with plenty of zest is a perfect choice.
3. How old are the puppies?
Newborn pups are adorable, yes, but if you want a puppy by Christmas and it is already December 1st, you may want to look elsewhere. Puppies should be at least eight weeks old before going to a new home.
Age is a factor regarding health, too. Dogs that are malnourished or maltreated will not grow as quickly as their healthy counterparts. That doesn’t mean that a pint-sized pooch is out of the running, however. Small stature doesn’t equate to malnourishment, which is why your earlier questions will come in handy when determining your pup’s health.
4. What are the puppies eating?
Diet matters to puppy tummies, so inquiring about their feeding schedule might save you money and a vet visit.
Ask if the dogs eat traditional solid dog food or a mix of wet and dry food. You should also find out when the puppies eat every day to keep them on a schedule. Keeping to a regular feeding schedule can help you ward off any puppy eyes at the dinner table.
5. Do you have spay/neuter age requirements?
Breeders sometimes advise against neutering dogs during their first year of life, especially with larger breeds. If your potential breeder has age requirements that do not work for you, you might want to shop around for another breeder.
If you have other dogs, this question is essential for their safety and happiness.
6. Does anything come with the purchase?
Purchasing a dog from a breeder is quite an investment, so check and see if you get any products or certifications upon purchase. Examples of possible items include:
- Directions regarding care
- Towel or bed with the scent of the mother
Breeders will sometimes provide these options and then some to sweeten the deal. If you are buying a dog from another state, ask if the breeder offers moving services.
Buying from a breeder is one time where it won’t pay to let a sleeping dog lie. Asking your breeder questions is one of the best ways to ensure you both walk away tail-wagging happily.