If you are thinking of getting a dog from a breeder, there are certain questions it is vital to ask. These questions focus on purchasing a purebred dog who will be a companion animal for your family. Purchasing a puppy for breeding or show purposes is a whole different ball game, and will not be addressed here.
Purchase from a reputable breeder, one who can provide you references from owners who have purchased dogs from him or her before. Please do not purchase an animal from a “backyard” breeder, and please, please not from a pet store or the Internet! If you are considering any of these sources, take a moment to read a few articles on puppy mills. They will change your mind. A responsible breeder is focused on breeding healthy dogs with good temperaments. These people are not focused on making money – believe me, most responsible breeders lose money, since after paying all the veterinarian bills, stud fees, etc., there is not much left over! You will get a healthy, happy puppy that will live a long time as your best friend if you take your time and act responsibly. Here are five important questions to ask:
What are you currently feeding your puppies? You will want to continue to feed the puppy the same kind of food, to avoid any upset stomach issues. Find out before you bring the puppy home, so that you have it waiting.
What immunizations have the puppies been given? Eight week old puppies (the earliest you should ever take a puppy from home) should have their first set of shots, and the breeder should provide you with shot records.
What health guarantees do you give? Many purebred breeds have common problems (collies have eye problems, retrievers have problems with their hips, etc.) The breeder should be able to give you a written health guarantee for some (not all) of the conditions that may affect your dog.
How old is the dam? (Ask if you can see her pedigree.) Warning signs of puppy mills and irresponsible breeders are very young dams. You should be able to see the dam – never purchase a puppy if the mother is not “on-site.” The only exception to this would be if the sire was given some of the puppies to sell as part of the “stud fee”. But then he should be around for you to meet! Watch how the breeder interacts with the parent and the puppies. If your puppy isn’t coming from a loving home, he will have problems adapting later in life.
Do you require spaying and neutering? This is a common clause in pedigree puppies, as if the pup is good quality the breeder has worked hard to achieve that and doesn’t want you randomly breeding his or her dog. Usually how this works is once you have had the animal “fixed” you send the breeder a copy of the certificate and he or she will release the registration papers to you. If you do not want to have your animal spayed or neutered, expect to pay more for the puppy or possibly have the breeder refuse to sell to you.
If you are new to the breed you are adopting, you might want to ask about grooming and exercise requirements, what types of health problems to look out for, how big he will get, etc. Good luck!