Need help remembering what to ask a breeder? The answers to these 10 questions will tell you what you need to know.
1. How long have you been involved with this breed?
The ideal response: at least several years. But a first-time breeder may fill the bill if she can show that she’s being mentored by more experienced breeders.
2. What activities do you do?
Good answers to this question include conformation or obedience, agility or field trials. Less traditional activities, such as raising puppies for service work, are also great.
3. Why did you do this breeding?
Any response that indicates the breeder wants to improve the breed is a good sign.
4. Have you tested the parents?
The breeder should show you certifications that the father (sire) and mother (dam) have no genetic diseases common to that particular breed.
5. What shots and wormings do the puppies receive?
The breeder should list the puppies’ immunizations and de-worming procedures or explain why she adopts an alternative plan.
6. How do you socialize the puppies?
Ideally, the breeder raises her puppies inside her home, so that they feel comfortable with a human household’s sights, sounds and activities. If raised in a separate kennel, the puppies should have frequent contact with people of all ages.
7. Do you provide a health guarantee?
The only acceptable answer to this question is “yes.” Generally, breeders agree to replace a puppy found to have a serious health condition within a few days of purchase.
8. Do you provide a contract?
Again, the only acceptable answer is “yes.” The contract should outline spay-neuter requirements, provisions for returning the puppy to the breeder if necessary, and other aspects of the sale.
9. When can we take the puppy home?
No reputable breeder allows a puppy to go to a new owner before 7 weeks of age. Small-dog breeders often keep puppies longer.
10. How can we contact you after the sale?
A good breeder will want to stay in touch with you throughout your dog’s life. At the very least, she’ll give you a telephone number. At best, she’ll call or e-mail you periodically to check on the puppy.