First advice: Use lots of caution and common sense... if you feel like the people know what they are talking about,
care about their dogs and their puppies, that's much better than someone who doesn't ask questions of you,
what you are looking for, your plans, your family, your home & yard, your family's work/school schedule.
Do the puppies seem clean, bright, and healthy?
Second advice: Leave your money, checkbook, and maybe your children home for the first visit. If your children are not
old enough to understand you are just going "to look", leave them home. Give yourself the chance to step
back, think it over, without that warm puppy in your arms. Then go back, take your children when you are sure.
Third advice: Is the litter already registered with the American Kennel Club?
(info on AKC registration) Does the breeder have in hand that puppy's paperwork, their individual
Registration Application ? Otherwise, remember all those stories about ..."the check is in the mail"...
Questions to ask the breeder before you decide:
- Ask about the general temperament and personalities of the puppies. What kind of personality will
fit best into your situation? Do you know the characteristics to predict from that particular breed?
- What are the living conditions of the breeder's dogs? Do they have adequate living space and room to
exercise? Are the quarters clean and well kept? Is fresh water available? What are the pups being fed and
how often? Good quality dog food is usually all they need.
- Do they use a written sales agreement that allows you to have your own veterinarian check out the
puppy within the first few days, with full refund and return of the puppy if it does not pass? Did they
supply you with the name of their own veterinarian? Have the puppies been checked for worms, started
on their shots? Did the breeder talk to you about the possibility that circumstances might change, that
if you can no longer keep the pup, he is to go back to the breeder - that this puppy should never, ever
end up in the 'pound'?
- Ask what hereditary health or genetic problems that breed might have. Responsible breeders are aware,
and take steps to test for and to avoid hereditary or genetic problems. The possible problems will vary
depending upon the breed, from hip dysplasia or hereditary eye problems. By researching on the website of
the national club for that breed, you will have a better idea of what answers to expect. National Clubs are
listed on the American Kennel Club website. If the breeder doesn't test, wonder why not. Do not accept
the answer that they don't test because they've never had a problem - how can they know they don't have
a problem if they don't check?
- Ask about the mother. Why did they choose the stud dog they used? What traits were they looking for?
What was the purpose of this breeding? Are the breeders planning on keeping a puppy from this litter?
A reputable breeder will not be breeding just to pay the mortgage....
- What steps have the breeders taken to socialize the pups? The critical learning period when a dog
learns fastest and best is between the ages of three and sixteen weeks - what has the puppy learned?
Puppies also need to learn many social skills from their mother and their littermates - they will miss
important lessons if they leave earlier than approximately eight weeks of age.
- What breed clubs do the breeders belong to? Do they belong to their national breed club, or their
local kennel club? These clubs will have a Code of Ethics for their members.
- Especially if you are looking for a competition type dog - have the dam and sire been shown
or tested? Conformation showing is intended to identify the dogs that best fit their breed standard. Whether
conformation show dogs, or performance competition dogs that do obedience or agility, or working dogs that
hunt or herd or track, if the breeder hasn't been successful in these activities, how can they promise you
a puppy with these qualities?
- Did the breeder ask what you were looking for, your plans for the puppy, about your family & ages
of your children, your home / work / school schedule, your securely fenced yard?