About the Puppies:
What is the breeder’s health guarantee? Reputable breeders will provide at least a one-year health guarantee and will refund your monies if the dog has a congenital, life-altering disorder (whether you return the dog or not).
What type of contact/support does the breeder offer and for how long? Reputable breeders dedicated to the breed will be available to you for the life of the pup.
How does the breeder socialize their puppies? Are any specific puppy rearing protocols used? Puppy Culture is a great, all-inclusive program for raising well socialized, balanced, and confident pups. Avidog is another respected program. Please note that experienced breeders may have success using their own program, a different program, or a combination of programs, but Puppy Culture and Avidog are highly recognized and esteemed today.
At what age can puppies go home? Note: some states regulate this age and most are at a minimum of 8 weeks. However, you may benefit from the breeder keeping the pups to 10 weeks for thorough socialization (especially if you don’t have other dogs in your home), to instill bite inhibition, get them through a fear imprinting period in about week 8, and to make housetraining easier on you (at 10 weeks they can hold their bladders longer) – and they may even gain additional basic training.
A special note on hybrids: Just say NO. For example, in the world of standard poodles exists an increasing market interest in ‘unique’ colors. Other breeds have been introduced to bring forward colors that do not naturally occur in the breed such as ‘merle’. After three to five generations, the breeders claim the dogs are purebred poodles. This is a complete falsehood, and more concerning, it introduces health risks into the line. Any breeder who does this should NOT be trusted.
Questions to ask regarding the first meeting:
Ask to see the puppies. With proper precautions, you should be to visit after five weeks of age. However, if you are high risk (e.g. you are exposed to multiple animals – like volunteering at a shelter or visiting a dog park) do not take the risk of bringing anything into their home or kennel. If a visit is not viable, ask to video chat – good breeders should be willing to show you the puppies’ living area at any time and you can witness puppy personalities during play and interactions with mum.
Be on time! Raising puppies is a careful balance of schedule, flexibility, training and cleaning – lots and lots of cleaning! Wear clean clothes that haven’t been exposed to other animals, stop for bathroom break(s) before arriving, and wash to the elbows. Be respectful and use precautions to protect the safety of the breeder’s family and dogs.
Ask to see the parents. It is okay if they are overwhelmingly excited at your introduction. You are invading their home – their safe space, and they might be excited to meet you or they might be cautious as they don’t know if you are a risk to their pack. Watch for them to calm down over a 5-10 minute period, and only then assess their build and temperaments.
At this point, pups should have received at least one set of vaccinations and multiple wormings (e.g. weeks 2, 4, 6). Ask to see the records. If the breeder administers the vaccinations themselves, check with your vet to see if they will accept this. Some vets will not accept breeder administered vaccinations and will require you to re-vaccinate (overexposure to some vaccines can potentially cause side effects).
If puppies are at least 8 weeks old, ask to see the results of their temperament testing. Temperament testing should be done by a trained individual the puppies do not know.
Questions to ask before picking up puppy:
If relocating out of state, will the breeder supply a health certificate? Who will pay for that vet visit?
When does the puppy need to be vet-checked? When does the puppy need vaccination boosters? Be sure to schedule with your vet in advance.
Will the pups be micro-chipped? Is there a cost to the buyer regarding registering the microchip? If not, you can have this done at the well-puppy visit with your veterinarian.
What food are pups eating? Does the breeder recommend any particular products (treats, chews, toys, etc)? How many days of food will the puppy go home with?
Will the puppy come with a collar and leash?
Has the puppy been leash trained? Has the puppy been crate trained? Has the puppy had any house training or basic obedience training? What commands does the puppy know?
What other items will the puppy go home with (e.g. crate, toys, treats, blanket, potty pad for the drive, waste bags, etc.)?
Are there recommended tools and resources for care of the dog? e.g. shampoo/conditioner products, grooming videos, brushes, combs.
What should you bring when you pick up the pup?
When you go to pick up your puppy, it is highly recommended to have someone with you who can hold the puppy in the back seat. If the puppy is highly stressed in a crate, the car ride and crate could cause long term anxiety issues.
What is the best payment option at pick up? (If you bring a check – personal, cashier’s check or money order – you may not receive registration paperwork until the check clears the bank.)
Questions to ask when picking up the pup:
Have the puppy and all other dogs in the home been well during the last few days?
Does the puppy have a regular daily schedule (waking time, meals, outdoor, exercise, bedtime)?
When did the puppy last have food/water? Have a potty plan and if the pup has not received all three sets of vaccinations do NOT, under any circumstances, let your puppy out on grass where unknown dogs may have been. It only takes one sniff to pick up most communicable diseases.
Make sure you receive a copy of the contract and health guarantee, the pup’s kennel club registration paperwork, veterinarian records, worming records, temperament test results, etc.
Anyone is welcome to use this list for their own puppy search. This content may not be redistributed by any individual, business entity or social media page without my express, written permission. (c) Michele Harvey