Header photo courtesy of M.C. Kay, AKC Breeder of Merit
Getting a puppy is a big decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. When you're looking for a dog, you want to make sure you get the right one for you—and that starts by talking to a responsible breeder. But how do you find a responsible breeder? Try AKC Marketplace and have this list of questions handy to get to know your breeder, your breed, and your potential puppy better.
- Ask to meet the parents.
Meeting the puppy's parents will give you a better idea of what you can expect from your dog. How big are the parents? What do they look like? What kind of temperament do they have? These are all observations to take into consideration when meeting the parents to predict what your puppy will be like.
- Have health tests been performed on the parents?
You'll want to be sure that the breeder has tested the parents to be sure that they are healthy and have no genetic diseases common to the breed.
- How long have you been breeding? What is your experience with this breed?
You'll want to know what experience the breeder has with breeding and their specific breed. They should be knowledgable about the breed's strengths and weaknesses and any genetic diseases that might affect their breed. Along these lines, you might want to ask the breeder if they are involved in any breed clubs, organizations, or canine sports.
- How do you socialize your puppies?
It is very important that puppies are properly socialized so they become well-adjusted dogs. You should find out if the puppies have been around people, other dogs, and if they are comfortable with a household environment. The puppies and other dogs should not be unusually shy or scared. Early socialization will help the puppy better adjust to new surroundings and life with you after you bring him home.
- Are the puppies up-to-date on vaccinations?
You should be sure that the breeder has taken the puppy to a veterinarian and knows where he is on his shot-schedule. This will also help you so that you have the proper medical information when you bring him home and you will know what shots he needs next.
- Do you provide a health guarantee and a contract?
It is important to find out what kind of guarantee the breeder provides with their puppies. What happens if you find the puppy has a serious health condition? If you can no longer care for the puppy will the breeder reclaim it?
- When will you be able to take the puppy home?
The breeder should tell you not to expect to bring home the puppy until it is eight to 12 weeks of age. Puppies need ample time to mature and socialize with their mother and litter mates.
- How can we contact you after picking up the puppy?
The breeder should be willing to give you their contact information and encourage you to contact them with any questions or concerns you may have. Breeders are an excellent resource and breed mentor for you throughout the life of your dog.
- What requirements do you have of people looking to get one of your puppies?
Breeders should be willing to answer any questions you have and should ask many of you as well. Breeders will want to make sure their puppies are going to good homes, with people who know what to expect and have made all the necessary preparations.
Picking the right breeder is important. You want to make sure the breeder is responsible, cares for their dogs, and will be a valued resource for you throughout your dog's life. And of course you want to make sure that you are bringing home the best puppy possible.
Learn more about responsible dog ownership in the video below.