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As a breeder, it may feel like you are extending your family with each puppy that moves on to a new owner. Finding the perfect home, however, can be tricky. Knowing the right questions to ask and picking up on warning signs can ensure a happy life for every puppy in your litter.

Interviews: Asking the Important Questions

While you don’t want to grill potential owners with interrogation-style questions and scare them away, they should be open to answering some important ones. Don’t be afraid to screen buyers with interviews or request references from their veterinarian. Social media can be helpful in gathering background information that buyers might try to hide. Are there any unsavory news stories that come up when you search their name on the Internet? You may also want to ask other breeders if they’ve come across this buyer before.

Questions for potential puppy buyers:

  • Do you rent an apartment or own your home?
  • Do you have a fenced-in yard? If not, what is your plan for exercising and house-training a puppy?
  • How many other pets do you own?
  • Do you live with small children? What ages? Do the children know how to treat a puppy?
  • What will the puppy’s new routine look like?
  • Have you thought about training classes?
  • What will you do about medical care? Do you have a veterinarian and have you considered pet insurance?

Educated About the Breed

It’s important that buyers have researched your breed. While it’s great if they grew up with a dog, was it the same breed that they’re currently interested in? Are they aware of grooming requirements, exercise needs, and the trainability of the breed they’ve chosen? Potential owners may expect to learn more about their puppy from you, an experienced breeder. But, if they’ve taken time to determine why they’re interested in the breed, it shows they aren’t there just because they think the puppies are cute.

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Financially Capable

Some first-time puppy buyers don’t anticipate the costs associated with owning a dog. In 2017, it was estimated that $1,000-$1,800 is spent in the first year of owning a dog, not including the purchase price. Make sure potential owners understand the financial responsibility required throughout a dog’s entire life.

Providing for a Healthy Puppy

Potential puppy owners should be committed to putting the health of their puppy first. This can be difficult if a major medical situation crops up early in a dog’s life. Experienced AKC breeders know to introduce their new owners to pet insurance through the AKC Pet Insurance 30-Day Certificate. The certificate comes at no additional cost when you register your dog with the AKC, and provides newly registered puppies 30 days of insurance protection to help cover accidents and illness. This introduction into the pet insurance industry can help new owners feel confident that their puppy is covered should an incident occur and will often encourage them to continue their coverage with an annual policy when the 30-day certificate expires. Owners who can choose to provide the best medical care for their canine companion without worrying about the cost provide the best homes for your puppies.

Warning Signs

There are some red flags that may pop up when a potential new owner comes to look at your litter. If the buyer seems to be in a hurry and doesn’t spend a lot of time getting to know the puppies, he may not be a good fit. Buyers should carve time out of their busy schedules to get to know the puppy that will be with them for the next decade or more.

Buyers who balk at a spay/neuter contract or refuse to answer your questions probably don’t have the best intentions for coming to look at your puppies. Has the buyer been hopping from one breeder to the next or jumping from one breed to another? These are all signs that you should move on to someone else.


The Best Homes

If you’re just starting out with your first litter, choosing new owners can feel like a daunting task. Don’t be afraid to ask members of your breed club and experienced breeders for advice on choosing new homes. If you’re a breeder who has several litters under your belt, you know that trusting your instinct and asking the right questions will lead to the best homes for your puppies.

Mary Shaughney, breeder support specialist for AKC Pet Insurance, has an extensive background in animal care, is a lifelong animal lover, and is passionate about promoting pet health and wellness. She lives in Raleigh, N.C., with her orange kitty, “Cat,” and is currently searching for the right pup to join her family.

30-Day Policy Disclaimer: The AKC Pet Insurance Certificate is administered by PetPartners, Inc. and is underwritten by the American Pet Insurance Company, 6100 4th Avenue S., Seattle, Wash. 98108, or Independence American Insurance Company. Activation is required. Not available in all states and only available to U.S. residents. Eligibility restrictions apply. Visit or call 1-866-725-2747 for more information or to review terms and conditions.
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