Essential Questions You’ll Want to Ask Your Breeder

So you’ve made the exciting decision that getting a puppy is right for your family and you’ve decided on a specific breed… now what?
That’s where we were at a month ago and we didn’t know where to begin looking or what questions to ask.

If you have decided to locate a breeder instead of adopting from a rescue (and that’s perfectly okay) then I suggest the first place you look is the American Kennel Club if it’s a purebred that you’re after. There are also associations for designer breeds like Cockapoos and Goldendoodles among others. All of which will have breeders listed on their website and these breeders will be held to a certain standard. If you still don’t see what you are looking for then Facebook groups are available for breeders and seekers of all different types. To assure that you are supporting responsible breeders and not puppy mills, here are some essential questions you should be asking.

Ask for their vet information.
A lot of people say ask for references but no dishonest breeder is going to give you honest references. A veterinarian usually would not lie and risk his business reputation.

How many types of dogs do they breed.
Someone who advertises multiple breeds of dogs is a pretty big red flag. If more than two breeds are being bred then more than likely they are being kept in a kennel and not as a family pet.

How many times a year do they breed the mother.
According to the AKC’s guide to responsible breeding, It is customary to avoid breeding a dog on consecutive heats to allow sufficient time for recuperation between pregnancies. You can find their full guide here.

At what age do they retire the parents.
According to that same guide, she must be at least 8 months old, but not more than 12 years old, on the date of mating. However, I have seen a lot of good breeders retiring their girls much younger. Personally I think 12 years seems a bit old for a dog to still be breeding.

Are the parents genetically tested.
The inheritance of genetic diseases is predictable, and producing puppies affected by the disease can be avoided provided that the genetic testing results for both parents are known. You can read more about that at the Kennel Club here.

Ask to see their contract.
Every good and responsible breeder will have a contract. Read this thoroughly. It should state that if anything happens they want the dog back rather than him go to a shelter – no matter how old he is. If all that you are given is a bill of sale then you’ve found a breeder that cares nothing about their dogs and only about the money gained.

Another important question you might want to ask is how long their waiting list is. When I first started looking I found a lot of people had a waitlist over a year long. Also, when do they expect their deposit. Some people expect a deposit just to get on the waitlist and some people expect their deposit after the puppies are born and you make your pick. 

Have you been down this road before? What questions do you think I am missing? Let me know in the comments!

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