Today’s post is inspired by Jodi Stone over at Heart Like a Dog; her recent Follow Up Friday Post in author’s note to A Plea To Rescue Groups; Jodi stated that some people may not know what to ask a breeder when purchasing a puppy. Well this sparked an idea for a two part post from a breeder’s (all be it small breeder) perspective on what someone should ask and what a breeder may ask a potential puppy buyer. A bit of advise I would give to anybody looking to purchase a pure breed puppy is Do Your Research first, I can not stress this enough. Familiarize yourself with the characteristics of the breed, the breed standard if they have one and any other information you can Google or check out at your local library. This will at least get you started and although everything you read is not always fact the breeder will help you sort that out but it should give you and idea if it is a breed you may want to own. I am only giving you my feelings and opinions on this and I am sure there are many others out there that have differing opinions or maybe some things I didn’t think of. So here goes…
QUESTIONS FOR THE BREEDER
1. Can I visit your dogs/kennel? Are the parent’s on site? Can I see them?
Most breeders are happy to have you come for a visit but please call ahead to schedule this with them. They should be able to show you at least the mother unless unforeseen circumstances have occurred (death). What you are looking for is the temperament and overall structure of the dog. The mother will be a bit apprehensive around her puppies but by herself she should be friendly and in good shape, remember she has just had a litter and nursed them for about the first four weeks or so of their lives so she may look a little haggard but overall you should see a healthy friendly dog.
2. What are the congenital defects for this breed?
Let’s face it every breed has some kind of defect and we all know there is NO perfect dog. A responsible breeder will be able to tell you all the defects and explain them.
3. What health clearances have been done on the parent’s? Can I see the clearances?
This question goes along with #2 and a responsible breeder will be able to show you the health clearances on both the Sire and Dam. With the wonderful world of the internet you can look up information on dogs on many different info sites such as The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) which will tell you what health clearances have been done and the results in most cases, however I will let you know that if it was not an OFA recognized test or results were not sent in they will not have it listed. I found this to be true when I was researching pedigrees for the stud dog, just means you have to do little more research. You can view Riva’s page at OFA here just to give you an idea.
4. Do you have a pedigree for the Sire and Dam?
Have the breeder go over it if you have questions. It is important to be able to look at the parentage of both the Sire and Dam to see where it all started so to speak. I do not want to give the impression that the pedigree is the most important thing, the WHOLE dog is most important but I wanted to touch on pedigree’s a bit. I could probably do a whole post on this topic alone because there is so much you can learn from them but as with everything else they are a tool to use not a deciding factor on whether two dogs should be bred.
5. Where were the puppies raised?
You want to hear that the puppies have been exposed to all different noises and sounds such as the vacuum, pots and pans banging around, outside noises such as cars, sirens etc. This way you know your pup will not freak out at every little sound.
6. What vaccines have the puppies received?
A responsible breeder will have this information for you and be able to tell you what vaccines were given and when.
7. Have the puppies been wormed?
Again responsible breeders will have this information and be able to tell you what wormer was used and how often.
8. What are you feeding them?
This just gives you and idea of what their nutrition has been and the opportunity to discuss it with the breeder if you have something else you would like to feed.
9. Have they been socialized? How?
Remember these are young pups that have not completed their vaccine series so they most likely have not been off the property so what I look for here is have they been handled by more than just the breeder. I had people of all different ages and genders over to play with and interact periodically with my pups just so they were used to strangers.
10. Do you do any type of aptitude testing?
There are some aptitude tests that some breeders may do on their puppies for example the VOLHARD PUPPY APTITUDE TEST (PAT) is common and was the one I used. Remember that this is just a guideline and nothing replaces the knowledge of the breeder and their overall critique of each puppy, after all they have spent the first eight weeks with the pups.
Not all breeders do this so don’t let this count as a negative if they say No; make yourself familiar with the breed you are looking at and the information contained in the test and judge the puppies for yourself when you see and interact with them. A good breeder will question you on what kind of personality you want your puppy to have, what you are going to be doing with your pup e.g., jogging, hunt tests, conformation, obedience, companion, and so forth to assist you in choosing the pup that will best fit your lifestyle. Yes the breeder will assist you in choosing a puppy, they will not let you come in and just take one home without discussing in length your lifestyle and the pups personalities first. Responsible breeder’s take placing puppies very seriously and will always put the welfare of their puppies first. They want to make sure it is a good fit for you and the pup.
11. Do you have a contract or guarantee?
This is a very subjective area and every breeder has their own thoughts on this. They are usually designed to protect you the buyer, the breeder and first and foremost the puppy. I did have a bill of sale/contract with my puppies that not only explained what I as the breeder was responsible for but it also stated what I expected from the buyer. It explained whether the dog was being sold on full registration or limited registration, health check by my vet, etc. If you read the contract and it is not something you can live with discuss it with the breeder and if they do not want to change it then look else where for a pup or be prepared to abide by the contract. As I stated before a responsible breeder is concerned with the welfare of their puppies first so they try to protect them through a contract.
Now you may have noticed that I saved this for last, there are a couple of reasons. First prices can vary from state to state so familiarize yourself with the area you are looking at buying a puppy from. When I was asked how much are my puppies before asking anything else it made me feel like the person was not concerned about the welfare of the puppy and money was the only concern; I will be honest some of the people who inquired about price first hung up once I told them, so that to me says a lot about them. When I look at my dogs I do not see dollar signs!
Second if you have done your research you already know some what of a price range for a quality dog and sure there will be inferior breeders out there that can sell you a dog at a much lower price but that should send up a red flag to you as the puppy buyer, ask yourself why are these puppies so much cheaper, then go through your questions to the breeder and you will probably answer that one on your own. So my advise is save this question for last because if you what you see and the answers to your questions are not what you are looking for then the price doesn’t matter anyway.
Well there you have some of the questions I think are important for a puppy buyer to be asking a breeder, I hope this is helpful and don’t forget to watch for part 2, What A Breeder May Ask You.