What Questions Should You Ask Your Potential Breeder?

Getting a puppy is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. When you’re looking for a dog, you want to make sure you get the right one for you—and that starts by talking to a responsible breeder. But how do you find a responsible breeder without getting scammed? The Better Business Bureau (BBB) estimates that 80 percent of sponsored search links for pet sales may be fraudulent, advertising animals the supposed sellers do not own. Here are some questions you should ask any potential breeder.

1. Ask the breeder to meet the parents.

-Stud lives with them: Make sure the breeders have purposefully bred and are knowledgeable and not just randomly mating dogs

-Stud doesn’t live with them: Make sure they know the stud dog and confirm that it’s actually him.

See if the mother looks healthy and clean and pay attention to how she behaves
with the puppies if you have the chance to see her with them. Every mother protects her puppies but if she seems extremely fearful or aggressive, this would be a sign that you should look for another breeder. Seeing the actual place and interactions between the mother and her puppies will give you a great first picture if this should be the breeder you will be buying from. Looking for a specific appearance, size, coat color (if you reserve a puppy before he’s born)? The parents are your best bet. The breeder should at least have some photos of the parents.

2. How old are the puppies?

This may sound like a silly question but you want to make sure that the puppies are at least 7 weeks when they move out. If the puppies are older than 12 weeks, you should ask the breeder for a plausible reason why the puppies haven’t been sold yet.

3. Are the puppies healthy?

Ask the breeder for a vet report and examination and if there have been any issues concerning the health of a puppy and if so, what was the illness and what treatment has he received? The breeder should be able to give you a medical history of the puppies and if he will be willing to refund you if serious health problems occur in the very first weeks/months. A non-refund policy is not a deal-breaker and even common in some countries but having it is just another layer of protection.

4. How is the parents’ temperament?

This is absolutely crucial! You are looking for a certain type of character in your puppy? Ask the breeder about the temperament of the parents (and maybe even the puppies). If you are looking for a calmer dog and the parents are hyperactive and need lots of exercise, you might want to look for another breeder. In case you’re looking for a guard dog for your family, you’re not at the right address with a dog that comes running up to every stranger, right?
What activities do they engage in? If you want to do Agility, make sure that the parents have enough energy or are even doing the activity themselves.

Keep your ears open for some potential underlying issues and see if the breeder is beating around the bush or if he enthusiastically describes to you what good dogs they are. Also ask if they have recognized any significant differences in the puppies, so you can have an easier decision on which one to choose. Do not let the breeder choose for you but also don’t go to a breeder that gives you zero support. The breeder should know their dogs and puppies best and should be able to help you choose.

5. Do You Have a Contract?

If the breeder has a contract of sale, what does it contain and does he also give you a health guarantee? Has the breeder waived their breeding rights and certain requirements were outlined: How the puppy should live, how she should be treated, not to give the pet up for adoption, and so on. 

The price of the puppy was also stated very clearly. No surprises.

6. What Is Your Breeding Experience?

You will want to know what experience the breeder has and especially with the specific breed. He should know all the characteristics the breed has, as well as the potential genetic illnesses. You can also ask why the breeder is part of that specific breeding club or organization and why he decided to breed exactly these two dogs. How many litters did this breeder have? But also make sure that there were not too many litters with the same female (2-3 would be best) and that she was not too old for breeding.

7. When Can I Take the Puppy Home?

Puppies should not be taken home before they are 8 weeks old. They need this time to develop into a healthy puppy with plenty of interaction with their littermates and their mother.

8. What Are You Feeding the Puppies? 

It is important to continue feeding the puppy with what he has been fed by the breeder at least for the first weeks. A sudden change in diet can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and abdominal pain. The food should be of high quality, well-balanced, and high protein for healthy puppy growth. Some breeders can provide you with a diet plan and can help you out with any types of questions regarding nutrition.

9. Do You Have Questions?

While you are asking plenty of questions, pay attention if the breeder is interested in the potential owners too. A good breeder will have his requirements and will turn down prospects if they don’t fit. The questions could be something like, “What are you planning to do with the puppy regarding exercise?” or “Does he have to be alone often?” These questions will show you that the breeder really cares for the well being of the puppies in the future.

10. Do you have any references?

Ask the breeder for references from puppy owners that they have sold to within the past year. Call their clients and find out if the breeder was fair, if they were happy with their pets, and how any problems were handled.

11. Ask to FaceTime/Video Chat.

12. Ask for the breeders forms of social Media. Do they have a Facebook account and or an Instagram account?

13. Ask if the breeder is affiliated with any social media groups such as: Facebook’s Northwest Chow Chows or Chow Chow Fanciers and if so, ask the Admin of those groups personally if your potential breeder is reputable.

14. Do not ever feel pressured to make a decision immediately and always do your homework before giving anyone money!