Good breeders are passionate about their breed. They are knowledgeable about the breed, genetics, canine health and they are more than willing to share this knowledge with you. They spend hours and hours pouring over pedigrees, looking at potential stud dogs, acquiring all the proper testing for their breeding stock and providing them top notch care.
Once they have decided on that stud dog for their bitch, they spend time and money getting her to the stud dog. This can be local or they can travel across the country, at any rate time and money is invested in the whole process.
So when it comes to placing those sweet little babies they have invested so much time, energy and money in producing you can bet they are going to invest just as much time and energy in making sure you are the right person to become a guardian of their pup.
Breeders ask these questions to get a sense of who you are and how much you know about the breed and rearing puppies. It helps them to place the right puppy with the right people depending on your lifestyle, your needs, and what you want to do with the dog.
They want to build a rapport with you. This is going to be a working relationship for the lifetime of the pup. So just as you need to be comfortable with the breeder you choose they need to be comfortable with you as well. And sometimes friendships form!
It really isn’t meant to be an interrogation but it can seem like it. Just keep in mind the purpose of the questions.
Here are some questions the breeder may ask you if you have shown an interest in one of their litters, these are in no particular order, so here goes…
Why do you want this breed?
The breeder wants to get an idea of why you are interested in their breed in part to make sure it isn’t a passing whimsy.
Tell me what you know about this breed?
Here’s where, if you have done your homework you can impress the breeder with your knowledge and they can clear up any gray areas you may have. But even if you haven’t it doesn’t mean they won’t sell you a dog they just want to see what you know already and thoroughly educate you on their breed. I personally am a research junkie and want to know as much as I can before hand if possible and then let the expert fill in any gaps.
Have you had any exposure to this breed?
The breeder wants to find out what experiences you have had with their breed. Have you owned one before, or do you know someone that has one. Have you interacted with the breed and what was your feelings about them.
Describe the ideal dog for you (and your family)
This is how they will be able to help you in the selection of a pup that will be a good fit with you and your family. For example if you tell them you are very laid back and like things quiet they will obviously not steer you towards the most exuberant out going puppy in the litter. Depending on the breed they may also suggest you look at another breed.
Do you consider yourself experienced in raising dogs?
The breeder wants to see how much knowledge you have in raising dogs so they can best help you with the rearing of one of their dogs. If you have never had a dog before they will usually have suggestions on training; I gave extensive information in my puppy packet on socializing, house breaking, what to have when you bring the pup home, leash training, crate training, etc. And don’t be surprised if they tell you their breed is not for first time dog owners, because there are many breeds that are not. So again do your homework!
Do you live in a house or apartment?
The breeder wants to know where you live so they know what type of dwelling the dog will live in because depending on the breed some dogs would not do well in an apartment or a place where they did not have a yard to exercise in on a regular basis.
If renting, are you allowed pets? May I contact to verify?
The last thing the breeder wants to happen is for the person to take the dog home and then call to say “we can’t keep the puppy because the land lord said no animals”. I would think that anyone who has cleared it with their land lord would not have a problem with giving the breeder permission to verify.
Where will the dog be housed?
Will the dog be kept in the house, will you be raising them as part of the family. Will they be kenneled outdoors, if so do you have proper housing for them, shelter from the elements will it be a combination of both? Do you have a fenced yard, if not how will you contain the dog? How many hours a day will he be left outside or at home alone? Every breed is different and some thrive better out doors and some don’t. These are all very important to the breeder because they want to make sure you have the proper environment for the dog.
Does anyone in your house have allergies to animals? If yes, to what and how severe?
The breeder wants to make sure the dog is not put in a situation where they will be returned because of this. When you are looking for a dog and you have allergies or someone in the household does please consider that may be a potential problem if the allergies are severe.
Do you have children? If yes, what are their ages?
Some breeds are not as good with children as others so knowing some facts about the breed before hand will help you to determine if this is a breed you should consider and if you are not sure the breeder will help you with that. Don’t be surprised if the breeder wants to meet your whole family and watch them interact with the pups. They may also ask what the children’s roles will be and how will they be instructed on interacting/caring for the dog.
Do you have other animals? If so what kind?
There may be some breeds who do not get along with other dogs or cats or same sex may be an issue. High pray drive in some breeds may be a problem if you own birds, ferrets, etc..
Are you interested in a male, female, no preference?
This is just a very general question and for me I never had to ask because the potential buyers always said right up front what they wanted.
Do you plan to spay/neuter your dog?
Many breeders have their expectations spelled out in the contract and at what age they expect the dog to be altered if required. It is very important for you to go over the contract very carefully with the breeder to make sure it is something you are going to be able to live with and abide by. Express any concerns with the breeder, some may work with you and some may not. If you can’t come to an agreement with the contract it is best to move on and find a breeder whose contract you can live with. Breeders have a contract in place to protect the puppy, themselves and you.
How many hours a day will your puppy be left alone?
We all have to work but the breeder wants to make sure you are able to provide adequate care for a very young pup. Young pups need to be taken out fairly frequently to potty because their little bladders can only hold it for about an hour to every month old they are after 12 weeks of age, before that they have no control. If you are going to be gone for long periods of time every day for your job maybe now is not the right time for a puppy. Dogs are social creatures and need their human companions for more than a couple hours a day.
Who will be the primary caregiver?
To me this is one of those questions that if I hear “oh the kids will do everything” I would not feel comfortable with that, depending on the age of the children. Having the kids be a part of care giving is great but being the sole care givers is usually something they are not ready for.
What activities are you interested in sharing with your dog? Companion, Hunting, Obedience/Rally/Agility, Conformation, Hunt/Field Tests, Service Dog, Breeding
This will assist the breeder in helping you with the right puppy for your lifestyle and the activities you want to do with the dog. They have been with the pups since birth and know the personalities of each one so they can place them in the appropriate homes.
Do you plan on attending obedience classes with your puppy? If no, how do you plan on training your puppy?
An inexperienced dog person would benefit from classes and the breeder will be able to explain this to you and what type of training the dog will need. If you are experienced in training, great, however getting the puppy out to socialize will help them, and the breeder wants to know how you will do this. In fact for some breeds, such as Chesapeake’s, socialization is a must!
Have you considered an older dog / rescue dog instead of a puppy?
After speaking with the breeder in length you may realize you really don’t have time for all the training required for a puppy, and an older dog might be a better fit. Generally older dogs are already house broke and may have some basic obedience, sometimes breeders have older dogs available. There are plenty of wonderful older dogs in shelters and rescues that would love to have a forever home, so don’t get hung up on a puppy if you aren’t ready for one. Puppies are a lot of work so be prepared for the long haul!
There are many more questions that a breeder may ask but this gives you an idea what you may be asked and why. I have said this countless times, good responsible breeders take the homing of their puppies very seriously and they put the welfare of the pups first so don’t take it personally if they tell you they don’t have any pups that meet your needs. It doesn’t hurt to ask them for recommendations for other breeders if this happens. You can move on with the confidence that you have talked with a very responsible breeder.
As the puppy buyer you should be prepared with questions for the breeder as well, do your homework. You can read about how to Be A Smart Puppy Buyer here
I hope this helps you in speaking with breeders. So good luck if you are in search of a new pup!