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16 Questions You Should Ask the Breeder

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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If you are getting a dog, most veterinarians recommend that you get your dog from a breeder. Choosing a breeder can be difficult.

To help you get the best possible pet from the best possible breeder, be prepared to ask some questions. The answers you receive will help you select the best and healthiest puppy.

Here is a list of questions to consider asking the breeder:

1. Are the puppies' parents "certified"? This means that certain breeds are often at risk for genetic conditions such as hip problems, heart problems and eye problems. Most of these diseases are inherited, meaning the disease is passed from parent to puppy. Many breeders will have their dogs evaluated and tested for that disease and ultimately "certified" by a veterinary specialist to be disease-free. Know about the breed and if there are any common genetic problems

2. What are the sizes of the puppy's parents? Know how big the parents are, to get a good idea of how big your puppy will be. Is that the size dog you want?

3. Ask to meet the dogs parents. If possible, meet the puppy's parents. Notice if they appear to be in good health and evaluate their overall temperament. Are they shy, aggressive, or well adjusted?

4. How have they socialized the pups? Have the pups been around other dogs? Other people? Socialization is critical in puppies 6 – 16 weeks old. Proper socialization consisting of good experiences of a puppy with other puppies and lots of different ages, sizes and types of people will give you the best chance at having a well-adjusted dog.

5. What vaccines has the puppy had? How many shots has he received and when will the puppy be due for his next puppy shot?

6. Have the puppies been dewormed? All puppies are born with worms and routine deworming is recommended.

7. Have any of the puppies in the litter been sick? If so, what were the signs, the diagnosis and treatment?

8. What visits has the puppies had with the veterinarian? Have they been examined and declared "healthy"? If not, what problems have they had? Have they been on any medications?

9. What is their guarantee? What guarantee does the breeder give with their puppies? If the puppy is found to have a severe illness, what will they do? This is a difficult topic but one that is a lot easier to cover up front rather than later.

10. Recommendations? Ask the breeder for a couple references of puppy owners that they have sold within the past year. CALL them. Find out if the breeder was fair, if they were happy with their pups, and how any problems were handled.

11. Breeders contract? Does your breeder require a breeder's contract? If so, what is in it? Is the breeder willing to take back the puppy at any time, if you can't keep it?

12. Limited registration. Some breeders require that you spay or neuter your dog by a certain age. If that is the case, that may not be a problem but it is best to know before you get your puppy.

13. What is the family history? Ask if the breeder has information about the breed line. For example, ask how long the dogs have lived and what they have died from. Write it down. This may be important for monitoring your pet as he gets older.

14. What is the breeder currently feeding the puppy? Regardless of what they are feeding, it is ideal to continue feeding the same food for the first few days at home to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal disturbances. If you choose to change the diet, do it gradually.

15. Health certificate and certificate of sale. Ask the breeder if he will supply a health certificate for the puppy issued by his veterinarian. Some states require also a certificate of sale.

16. Does the breeder belong to a breed club? Ask for references.

Get your questions answered and feel very comfortable with your new puppy.

Proper and responsible breeding, appropriate health care and correct puppy socialization will make a big difference in how healthy your dog is and what kind of dog your puppy will turn out to be.


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