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Buying From a Dog Breeder: What Questions Should You Ask?

Updated: Mar 23

You’ve decided on purchasing a dog. You’ve decided-- for several reasons-- that a breeder is the way to go when buying this dog. You know there are holes in your education regarding the dog or the breeder or perhaps a bunch of other things.

The big question now is: What questions should I ask when I'm buying my puppy?

list of questions to ask a dog breeder

Let’s review a few important questions for everyone involved just to make this decision as uncomplicated as possible. Is buying a dog from a breeder the right choice for you? Let’s see!

Does Your Breeder Have a License?

You wouldn’t have your hair done by someone without a cosmetology license. Why would a breeder need fewer bonafides?

One of the most important questions to ask a breeder is if they have a license. A licensed breeder has to follow a certain code of ethics and has had their breeding practices inspected by a governing body.

The puppies are more likely to be healthy and come from a good home that was built by some of the best business practices.

If the breeder you're speaking with doesn't have a license, it's best to steer clear. There are plenty of reputable breeders out there who are more than happy to assist in matching you with a pristine and loving puppy. There's no need to deal with an unlicensed breeder.

Dog breeder related articles & information:

What are the Breeders Credentials?

Now that you know your breeder is legally allowed to do what they’ve advertised, how about we look at specific questions regarding how they do what they do.

  • How long have they been in business?

  • What made you want to get into breeding?

  • Do you have any health guarantees or contracts in place?

  • Are the parents of your puppies certified to be free of genetic diseases?

These questions will help you get a sense of the quality of their dogs and the care they take in raising them.

What Do They Know About the Breed They’re Selling?

They say it takes ten thousand hours to become a master of your chosen art. While that’s a good many births, you should expect a breeder to be able to talk the talk as well as walk the walk.

Breeders should be able to tell you everything about the breed they are selling, from personality quirks to potential health concerns. This goes for puppies of the breed en masse as well as their current litters. They should also be able to tell you about the puppy's parents and their own breeding program.

If a breeder can't answer all of your questions, they may not be the best source for a pup. Start looking elsewhere.

How Often Do They Breed Your Dogs?

You do not want breeders that overwork their parent dogs.

Breeders who have few litters per year are more likely to be selective about the homes their puppies go to. They're also more likely to be better-educated about raising puppies and dealing with potential health problems.

Conversely, breeders who have six or more litters per year are more likely to be in it for the money and less likely to be concerned with the puppies' well-being. This, of course, depends on how many wonderful people they have working for them and their experience.

apply for new puppy here

If you're thinking of buying a dog from a breeder, it's definitely worth finding out how many litters they have each year. Use your best judgment.

There’s a nasty name for those who overbreed their dogs. They’re called puppy mills. Stay away from these inhumane cheats at any and all costs.

What Health Screenings and Tests Do They Do?

A responsible breeder will health screen their breeding stock for common genetic issues and will also test for a variety of other health concerns.

Some of the screenings and tests that may be performed include OFA hip and elbow dysplasia, CERF eye exams, cardiac evaluation, and testing for various genetic disorders, among many others.

Here at JLDD, each of our breeding dogs undergoes extensive health testing prior to being bred. Our testing includes pertinent hip and elbow radiographs, as well as genetic disease panels, color testing, and coat testing. This ensures that your puppy will have a perfect coat and be clear of genetic diseases.

We know each parent's temperament well and also consider what would make the most well-balanced puppies.

If a breeder does not conduct health screens on their breeding stock or does not provide documentation of health screenings and tests, it is best to steer clear.

What Health Clearances Do They Have?

One of the most important things you can ask a breeder is for health clearances on the parents of the dog. This will ensure that your dog doesn't inherit any genetic diseases or health problems.

You should also ask about the history of the dog. If he or she has any chronic health conditions, this is something you'll want to be aware of before bringing him or her into your home.

The breeder should also be able to provide you with a history of the dog's parents, as well as contact information for the veterinarian who has examined the dog. This should be outlined in the breeder’s health guarantee.

What is Their Philosophy on Health and Nutrition?

A responsible breeder will have a clear philosophy on health and nutrition and will be able to provide documentation on all health tests that have been performed on the parents and puppies. Remember the health guarantee we talked about? That could be part of this documentation.

The breeder should also be able to provide information on the diet they feed their dogs and puppies. The diet should be high-quality and tailored to the specific needs of the breed. This means that they’ve had noted success with certain foods.

How Do You Socialize Your Puppies?

We all need to be loved. That goes double for a newborn.

Reputable breeders socialize their puppies from a very young age, exposing them to different sights, sounds, and experiences. For example, starting at 3 days old, we spend time with each puppy. This happens every day. This helps to prepare them for life as a family pet and helps to avoid behavioral problems down the road.

If you're considering buying a dog from a breeder, be sure to ask how they socialize their puppies. A good breeder will be more than happy to answer any questions and will be able to provide documentation of their socialization protocol.

Do They Have a Return Policy?

We never want to say goodbye to our dog. But we especially don’t want this to happen when we haven’t even been able to start the journey together.

The breeder's return policy should outline what happens if you're not happy with your purchase. Will you be able to return the dog? Will you receive a refund? The breeder's refund policy should outline what happens if the dog becomes ill or passes on.

It's important to ask the breeder questions about their return and refund policies. If the day does ever come where things aren’t working out, you’ll want to have your bases covered.

How Long Have They Been in Business?

This may seem like an irrelevant question, but it's actually a good way to gauge the breeder's experience and knowledge. A breeder who's been in the business for a long time is likely more reputable and knowledgeable than a breeder who's just starting out.

In addition, longevity can also be a sign of good breeding practices. Breeders who have been in the business for a long time are more likely to produce healthy puppies with good temperaments.

So, if you're looking for a healthy and well-socialized puppy, it's best to buy from a reputable breeder who's been in the business for a while.

What Do Other People Say About This Breeder?

Google reviews aren’t everything. But they’re not nothing either.

Positive feedback from other people who have purchased dogs from them in the past means that your breeder has done something right. Ask the breeder to provide you with contact information of people who have recently bought dogs from them so you can get unbiased opinions.

If the breeder seems hesitant or unwilling to provide you with this information, it's probably best to move on and find another breeder.

Anyone who refuses or discourages you from asking questions is probably not reputable. Sure, the FAQ page is a great place to start, but you’ll want more personal connections on this adventure. Be willing to speak up - even visit the breeder’s facility for a face-to-face!

By asking the right questions, you can be sure that you're getting a healthy, well-raised puppy from a reputable breeder.

Jenna and the JLDD Team

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