I love animals. I also have a soft heart for animals in need. I have rescued 3 cats and 2 dogs. I was not intending to rescue the two dogs and because I had not asked proper questions before going to see the puppies I ended up having to spend a lot of money for the dog and even more money for their health after I got them home. I hope to share my experiences and tips on what to ask and look for when getting a puppy from a breeder so you won’t have to spend a lot on health care to get your puppy healthy after you purchase it.
Whether you communicate with the breeder by email or phone you will want to get this basic information before you go to meet the puppy.
Price of the puppy. Compare with other puppies of the same breed to make sure you are getting a fair price.
Papers available. Most purebred dogs from breeders come with some sort of registration papers. AKC, American Kennel Club, is the most common and best type of registration. AKC papers ensure that the dog’s parents have met AKC standards and usually have a long line of papered dogs. AKC is also the most common registration you will need if you want to show your dog. AKC papers come with either full or partial rights. If you have full rights you can breed your dog and as long as the other parent is also AKC registered the pups will be able to be AKC registered. Pet papers mean that you will not be able to breed the dog and have it’s puppies registered. Usually AKC pet registration papered dogs are cheaper than the full registration. If you are planning on having your pet spayed or neutered (highly recommended) then pet registration is the best option. Another type of registration is ACA – although I am not impressed with ACA registration and it’s not as common. If a breeder is charging registration prices they better be AKC papers. You can register just about any dog no matter of breed, meaning it could even be a cross, in ACA.
Age. You want to make sure the puppy you are getting is at least 8 weeks old. Anything less than that should still be getting vital nutrition from the mother dog.
Shots and immunizations. You want to make sure the puppy has had at least the first set of shots and immunizations. If you are communicating with the breeder via email, ask to see a copy of the shot records. If you’re communicating with them over the phone just be sure they will have a copy of the records available for you to take with you when you purchase the dog. Most reliable breeders will provide this with out question, but make sure you ask. You’re veterinarian will want to see these records. Some breeders administer the shots themselves. I know this saves them money but I prefer to have shots administered by a licensed professional and my vet agrees. Both the dogs I rescued the breeders said they administered the shots themselves. The breeder of my Rhodesian Ridgeback did not have any documentation on this (I later found out they were running a puppy mill). The breeder of my German Shepherd did have documentation of dates and names of the vaccines including the manufacturer.
Ask if they have the parents or siblings from previous litters on site. If they do you will want to see them to see what the dog will look like when it is grown. This will also reassure that the puppy will be meeting standards and healthy blood lines.
Ask to see where the puppy lives. We made a terrible mistake with our Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy by meeting the breeders in a public location instead of meeting them at their home. The breeder made it seem like they were doing this to help us so we wouldn’t have to drive so far, but it turned out that they were running a puppy mill. Our puppy had not been fed proper nutrition and spent the first year of her life trying to get her muscles built up and we still have a problem with her weight being put on and kept up. The breeders told us that the puppy was not used to a collar or leash because she had never had one on (I know when my mom raised dogs we always put a collar and leash on and let them get used to it before letting them go to a new home, but figured that was just something special we did). The breeders then told us that she had never been in a car and they didn’t think she would be potty trained because she had never been inside (even though the pictures of her were all inside pictures). When we got her home we found out she was scared of people, especially women and would run and hide and would yelp like she was being killed if you raised your hands. We also found out that she was scared of grass and it took 6 months before our German shepherd got the Rhodesian ridgeback to go out in the grass without us having to put her on it. To this day she still will only go potty on cement. If the breeder insists on seeing the home that the puppy will go to, agree to it but request to see where the puppy lives first so you can make sure it is from a reputable home.
Nutrition. Make sure you find out what the puppy is currently eating and if the breeder can send some home with you. This way you can make sure and get the same food or at least have enough to gradually switch over to a new food. Switching without mixing the new and old food together is hard on any dog, especially a puppy. This will also provide you with some information on if the breed requires special nutrition, such as large breed puppy food for large breeds.
Family medical history. Ask if any of the previous puppies have had any health problems or if the parents or grandparents have had any health problems. My German shepherd had a hernia that was hereditary and had to be surgically removed. Dogs with hereditary health issues should be spayed or neutered so they don’t keep passing on this problem to other puppies.
Last you want to make sure that the breeder will be available after the purchase for any questions you may have. A good breeder will want you to keep in contact with them so they know how their puppies are doing. They will also want to be notified if there are any health problems that arise so they can make sure and pass the information on to other puppy owners in case it is something that the other puppies could have as well.
Hopefully this information from my personal experience will help you make an informed and happy purchase.
If you would like more information please visit http://www.akc.org/ .