Once you've found a prospective puppy, be sure you know what questions to ask dog breeders to be sure they're reputable. The answers help you avoid the sorry so-and-so puppy mill jerks simply out for a buck. The right questions also help you choose from among the many reputable dog breeders, because they should be able to mentor you with helpful information and cheer you on as your puppy grows up.
Questions To Ask Your Dog Breeder
- Are the puppies kept outside or inside? Depending on the breed, time of year and geographic region, the climate may be fine for some outdoor time. Being ‘raised underfoot’—inside the house—means your pup has a head start on getting positive hands-on close contact with people, a very important part of puppy socialization.
- Screening. Even wonderful dog breeds can have tendencies toward health problems, and responsible breeders screen for these issues. Ask first what kinds of potential problems are known in the given breed, and then what tests are done. Also ask about contractual guarantees for the health of the puppies. If the breeder protests there are no problems, or doesn't know about any, look for another breeder.
- Testimonials. Unless it’s a “whoops” breeding of a backyard breeder—which answers another question—this should not be the dog breeder’s first litter. There should have been previous satisfied puppy owners. If the breeder doesn’t offer them, ask about testimonials.
- Puppy Parents. Ask about the temperament, health, and any dog show titles of the parents. Even if the dog breeder doesn’t own the daddy dog, this information should be known. Are the parents successfully competing in dog sports or conformation trials? Has the breeder placed puppies as service dogs or therapy animals? If you plan to compete with your furry darling, it’s helpful to know what successes in competition other puppies they bred accomplished. Also ask if the breeder keeps track of titles on the puppies produced. Puppies that win titles are a positive reflection on the breeder's program, whether they're for conformation shows or obedience or field work, and that's a very positive indication.
- Puppy Temperament Tests. Discuss what you expect from your puppy as he grows up. Do you want a dog to hike with you, play with the kids, go hunting, or sleep on your lap? The breeder should know which individual puppies are more laid back or “driven” than others. Ask if a temperament test been done. Temperament tests help predict a puppy’s adult personality and potential problems. They measure stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness. Once tested, puppies can be better matched with owners.
- Mentor. There are always new things to learn about puppies and purebred dogs. Even if you’ve had your particular breed before, having a mentor on your side is a great benefit. Ask if the breeder will be available to offer help and advice along the way. It’s wonderful when a breeder stays in touch and helps with any questions.