With so many unscrupulous dog breeders around just out for profit, finding a caring and responsible breeder through the rough can be tricky. To arm you with the knowledge needed to safely navigate the world of dog breeders, and so you’re not drawn into unknowingly supporting a cruel puppy trade, we’ve put together the following questions to have answered by any potential breeder you may look to do business with. Whether you’re going through a friend’s recommendation, or whether you’re doing your own breeder research, always make sure to pose the following important questions to a potential breeder.

The right breeder won’t mind your thoroughness. In fact, responsible breeders tend to be thorough themselves and like to observe whether a person will be a good fit for their pups. So don’t be shy and ask away.

You may also be interested in checking out our article, Your Puppy Connect: Discovering the Right Breeder. There’s a ton of great info packed in there, and with the questions below will equip you with the knowledge needed to weed out the nasty and choose a breeder that truly cares, and has the best intentions at heart for you and your future pup.

1. Do you sell your dogs online or in pet stores?

If the answer is yes, it should immediately raise a red flag for you.

Unfortunately, pet stores and quick online sales are notoriously linked to puppy farms and irresponsible breeders and breeding practices. The pups are usually separated from their mothers much too early and then kept in a less than ideal environment such as cages without much human contact, until they are sold. There are some good pet stores out there, but they are few and far between, so proceed with caution, do your research diligently and ask lots of questions. Some breeders may advertise online but if they are responsible and trustworthy they won’t sell a puppy without meeting a potential owner in person.

2. Can I meet the puppy’s parents?

It’s always a wise idea to check out the puppy’s parents, or the very least, to meet the puppy’s mother. Observe their general temperament, do they seem well-adjusted or are they aggressive, fearful or extremely shy? Do they appear to be vibrant and healthy Meeting the parents will also give you a great indication on the size, looks and personality of a puppy going forward.

3. At what age can I take the puppy home?

Whatever the breed you’ve decided on, a caring and responsible breeder should not let you take a puppy home younger than 8 weeks of age. This period is extremely important for puppies to build up their immunity through their mother, as well as to socialize with her and the litter mates. A good breeder should also not accept visits from prospective buyers before 3 weeks of age.

Small Yorkshire Terrier Pup

4. Can I visit your kennel or home where your puppies live?

Being able to visit the puppies where they currently live is a fantastic opportunity not only to meet the pups, but also to start developing a relationship with your potential breeder. It’s also great for seeing the level of socialization the puppies are experiencing and allows you to inspect their living conditions. As you’d expect, the environment the puppies are in should be as tidy and clean as realistically possible to keep them safe from dangers or health related issues.

5. Have the parents received any health testing?

Not all breeders put the sire and dam (puppy’s parents) through health testing and screenings, typically due to costs. But, breeding without health testing is like breeding with your head stuck in the sand. Ignorance is not bliss and the last thing you want is to be in a situation dealing with a very poorly dog down the line. If the risk of picking up a pup who has a higher chance of developing a health or genetic disorder can be minimized, it’s worth asking the question. Asking for all information available for a pups family history are also key points worth noting here.

6. Has the puppy started any socialization?

Socialization is the key to a well-adjusted, confident and happy pup. It’s the primary way in which we help our dogs to build positive associations with people, other dogs, pets and experiences. Ask your breeder how they’ve started to socialize the puppies and interact with them. What real-world sights, sounds and smells have they experienced, have they started to meet different people, children and other animals? While the bulk of socialization starts when you get a puppy home, the breeder plays an important role in getting the ball rolling and has a plethora of options and activities to help sensitize the puppies to the world around them.

Small Yorkshire Terrier Puppy

7. Will you be offering a breeder contract for me to sign?

The best breeders will almost certainly require you to sign a breeder’s contract when buying a puppy through them. Although signing a contract may seem strange, the contract acts like a guarantee that the puppy you want to buy is healthy and ready to go to a new home.Signing a legal document is not only used to remind you of the responsibility you are undertaking, but also gives the breeder the opportunity to share further advice and expectations. Breeders that use contracts show their vested interest in their puppies. Always try to get a copy of the contract as soon as possible and take the time to properly read through and understand it.

8. Has the puppy received any vaccinations?

Vaccinations are an important way of keeping your puppy safe and disease-free. Generally, most puppies start their initial vaccination course around 8 weeks of age. Many puppies will start their vaccinations when they go to their new homes with their new owners. However, some breeders choose to give their puppies some vaccinations with their veterinarian before the puppies are rehomed. If the puppy received any vaccinations, the breeder should happily give you a vaccination record signed by a veterinarian with the vet clinic contact details. If they don’t give you a record, then you have no proof the vaccinations were given.

9. Has the puppy been dewormed or received any other treatments?

A good breeder will have regularly dewormed the mum and pups with a safe and reliable anti-parasite treatment. Puppies often have a high worm burden, which can quickly cause problems such as poor growth, dull coat, loose stools or even more serious problems such as vomiting, weight loss or an intestinal blockage. Breeders should be happy to give you a record of which deworming products they used and when, along with other treatments administered such as anti-flea products.

10. What’s the puppy currently being fed and how much?

The breeder should give you the name of the puppy food they are feeding and how much and how often it is being fed. It is good to know this information well in advance so you have time to buy the same puppy diet before you pick your puppy up. Feel free to ask the breeder why they chose this food for their pups, and which diet they feed their adult dogs. Some breeders will often give you a small bag or a sample of the puppy food to take home.

It is recommended that you keep your puppy on the same diet it has previously been fed for a few days as he adjusts to his new home, even if you have decided to use a different dog food in the future. A quick change to your pup’s diet from one food to another, can quickly cause an upset digestive system and make your pup feel ill. Any changes to food should be done slowly over a period of at least five days to allow your puppy’s tummy time to adjust.

For a more in-depth look into puppy feeding, check out our Ultimate Guide to Feeding Your Puppy.

There you have it, ten vital questions to cover whenever vetting out a potential breeder. Like we said before, a responsible breeder won’t mind you being thorough, so ask away without any awkwardness. In fact, if you do find a breeder getting especially uncomfortable with your line of questioning, consider why, and if they may have something to hide.

Best of luck to you and here’s a big cheers to finding your pawfect pup.