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What Questions Should I Ask When Buying a Puppy?

At Jenna Lee Designer Doodles we talk to many, many people on a weekly basis and field a wide variety of questions! Some even call us with a list in hand, hoping to find a dog breeder a year or two in advance of actually getting a pup. Others call and are simply looking for the soonest available and/or least expensive doodle pup they can find.

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Doodles have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years and there is no shortage of breeders. Not all are created equal however so it is important to know what questions to ask to ensure you can identify a reputable seller from a non-reputable one. Here are a few good inquiries to start with.

Do you health test your parent dogs?

Breed specific genetic health testing on the parent dogs ensures that your pup will not have a genetically inheritable disease. Hip/elbow testing is especially important for larger breeds of dogs to avoid the common issue of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can lead to arthritis of the joints, or crippling lameness in severe cases. This is a genetic condition and therefore all parent dogs need to be health tested against it.

Other less common genetic diseases may include skin diseases, valve diseases and Obstructive Airway Syndrome. These are less common but a proper screening can catch these defects and ensure the health of the parent dogs. Do you vet check your puppies?

Reputable breeders will have their pups see a vet before going home with you (usually around six weeks of age) to make sure their heart, eyes, etc. have no defects. Furthermore, puppies should be microchipped and receive their first round of vaccines before coming home to you at roughly 8 weeks of age (more rounds of vaccines if they are older). How and where do you raise your puppies?

Are the puppies outside in a barn with minimal interaction with people? Does the breeder perform the bare minimum as far as daily cleaning and feeding, or does he/she follow an enrichment or socialization program?

Even if a breeder does not follow a specific program, he/she should be able to go into great detail about what efforts they are making to socialize their pups — interaction with different people, some basic training/conditioning, etc.

Tell me about the parent dogs…

A reputable breeder should be over the moon about their parent dogs and ready to give you an earful about their sweet temperaments, beautiful coats, and why they’ve been selected into the program. A breeder who seems unfamiliar with their pups’ heritage can be a red flag.

What are you basic breeding policies? How often do you breed parent dogs, what happens to parent dogs when they retire, etc.?

The answers to these questions may vary quite a bit among reputable breeders — for example there is some level of disagreement even among the reproductive experts on whether or not it is safe to skip heat cycles in female dogs or breed back to back cycles.

But regardless of the answer, the breeder should be able to give a clear, well thought out answer that reflects care of their parents dogs.

Do you have a health guarantee/contract?

Reputable breeders typically offer a 1-2 year health contract offering to reimburse for any genetic inheritable issues in their pups. Offering this contract shows that the breeder is comfortable backing the health of their pups.

What is your experience as a breeder? How long have you been doing this, etc.?

Recent trends include families who purchase a doodle and opt to breed them one time just for fun or to keep back a puppy, etc. They may very well produce some sweet pups, but experience does come into play often when it comes to raising pups.

Lots of research is involved in the breeding process. For example, breeding certain coat colors together can actually produce blind and deaf pups. This is obviously the worst case scenario, but your breeder should be able to draw on his/her experience to create the best outcomes for the pups.

What is so special about your pups?

This is an open-ended question, but reputable breeders are PASSIONATE about their babies. They are not throwing two random parents dogs together just to make some extra cash. They are truly seeking to better the breed and see their pups go on to be incredible family companions, therapy dogs, and forever pets.

Most breeders will jump at the chance to answer this question and most will have an answer of why they truly believe their pups are the best. We certainly think so about ours at JLDD! Good breeders are thinking about their breeds’ long-term health, temperament, and even structure/physique.

So what are some possible red flags to look for when searching for a breeder?

  • Sending a pup home earlier than eight weeks Puppies benefit from being with their moms and siblings for at least 6-7 weeks regarding social development, and preferably 8 weeks. In fact, in many states it is illegal to send pups home earlier than 8 weeks.

  • Lack of emphasis on temperament Simply choosing a pup based on a cute photo is usually not the way to go. You want to ask more questions and make sure the breeder can vouch that your pup has a temperament that matches your particular needs/lifestyle. Not all doodle pups are created equal! Breeds differ as well as individual pups in regard to energy level, trainability, etc.

  • Really low prices Properly raising puppies is expensive! Really low prices may be an indication that health checks haven’t been given, sanitation standards are subpar or other corners have been cut. Appropriately-given vet tests to parents and puppies is built into the cost of a puppy along with any training the pup may have received so be sure you know what you are paying for!

  • They don’t want to show you their facilities For good reason, many breeders don’t open their facilities to the public for the puppies’ own protection. Diseases such as the Parvovirus are highly transmittable, can live for weeks, months and even years on surfaces and have the capability of wiping out an entire liter. But a breeder should be willing to let you view the facilities upon puppy pickup or even offer a virtual tour. If a breeder is totally reluctant to let you view their facilities at any time, this would be considered a red flag.

Some breeders may look the part with flashy websites and clever marketing but it’s never safe to make assumptions no matter how cute the puppies are.

Do your research and make sure your next pup comes from a reputable breeder! We’re always here to help if you need us. Send your questions to

Jenna and the JLDD Team

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