9 Questions To Ask a Puppy Breeder

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Backyard breeders or unscrupulous breeders are a massive problem across the world, and these breeders are solely involved in breeding puppies to make money. This industry is extremely hard to regulate as the majority of puppy mills breeding for financial reasons is done from private homes, and finding the people responsible and keeping them from breeding dogs can be tricky. 

However, these breeders prioritize money above all other issues and are typically the main reason puppies and their mums are abandoned in large numbers. There is also a reduction in health and quality of life in many breeds and the rise of dogs with poor temperaments and behavioral problems. 

Responsible breeders are those who are passionate about the dogs they own, doing what they can to help improve the breed and bring only the highest-caliber puppies into the world. 

However, it can be tricky for first-time and experienced dog owners to find the right breeder to buy your new puppy from. Whether you’re looking for chocolate labrador puppies for sale or have your heart set on a hound or an English bulldog, knowing what questions to ask a breeder before handing over any cash is vital. Reducing the cash flow to those who aren’t breeding for the right reasons is the only way to stop them doing what they’re doing. 

So, next time you want to add a puppy to your home, ask your breeder these questions and if you aren’t satisfied with the answers, they can’t or won’t give any to you, simply walk away. 

How old are the puppies 

Breeders shouldn’t accept people viewing the puppies if they’re under 3 weeks old. Typically, puppies are ready to be separated from their litter and mum at 8 weeks, so people willing to sell you a puppy under 8 weeks old are a massive red flag. If the puppy is over 12 weeks old, this can also indicate an issue and mean something is wrong. Not all the time, but it’s worth being wary if the poop is over 12 weeks old. 

Can I see the pup with mum?

You won’t always be able to see the puppy with both mum and dad, but it’s essential you see it with its mum. This can allow you to see mum’s temperament and how she and the puppies interact with each other. Is mum caring or aggressive? Is the puppy docile or hyper, and how does it engage with its littermates? You need to be able to see the dog in it’s current living environment to help you assess it’s the right puppy for you. Simply turning up and taking the puppy from the front door should be a sign something isn’t right and should be avoided at all costs. 

Can you see and hold littermates?

You might not know much about puppies or dogs in general, but holding the other puppies and the one you want to buy allows you to get a feel for the weight of each one and ensure they’re all of similar weight and there is no massive disparity. You can also see how alert they are, how they react to being handled, and how they engage with you and each other. 

Are they weaned? 

Puppies should be fully weaned at 7 weeks, and if you arrive to collect your puppy and it’s not weaned, this should raise alarm bells. It could signify the puppy is younger than 7 weeks or that the breeder hasn’t cared for it correctly. 

Do they have health certificates for the parents?

If your breeder is genuine, they won’t mind you asking for proof and copies of the parent’s health certificates. In fact, they should welcome this. Certain breeds are more prone to hereditary health conditions, which can be passed to your puppies, so the health certificate of the parent can show you if you’re likely to experience it with your pup if there is something hereditary at play. 

Have any puppies been ill

Ask about any health issues the puppies might have had, as in the whole litter. Ask for medical records, including examinations, weights, and deworming treatments, as well as for anything else. Have the puppies had parvovirus? Have they had any medications, and what signs were visible? If you want to ascertain if the puppies are healthy, asking for a vet history can give you more information. Again, a responsible breeder will not mind sharing this with you at all. 

What is their guarantee? 

Will the breeder offer any guarantees? Will they take the puppy back if you can no longer care for it or if it shows health issues or behavior problems? If so, how long will this guarantee last? A few months, 12 months, or for the life of your puppy? Do they offer ongoing support? 

Are the puppies vaccinated? 

Puppies should receive their vaccinations between 6 and 9 weeks and then another dose around 10 to 12 weeks of age. If you take the puppy home at 8 weeks, know what vaccinations it needs before it can explore the world. Remember, puppies can’t go outside or for walks until they’ve had their full vaccination course. 

Do they have references? 

Are you able to see references from other puppy buyers? What do they have, or have you heard anything that might make you a bit suspicious? Ask for references and if they receive any updates from owners as their puppies grow. Some breeders or buyers of litters host meetups for everyone to see each other again, and if the breeder arranges or goes to these, it’s a good sign they’re invested in the care of their puppies. 

Doing your due diligence before purchasing your new puppy can help you avoid the common pitfalls that can come with buying a puppy, especially if you come across the breeder via an online ad or word of mouth. Do as much research as possible to help you ensure you’re getting the puppy you expect and are indeed paying for. 

Sarah x

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