Dog Breeding

10 Essential Questions to Ask a Dog Breeder

You’ve made the exciting decision to get a new puppy for your family. You have your heart set on a certain breed, and now it’s time to find reputable dog breeders. But where do you start? While getting a new puppy pal can be an amazing new experience, navigating the world of dog breeders can be overwhelming. That’s why we put together this guide of 10 essential questions to ask a dog breeder.

Getting your new doggo from reputable dog breeders comes with several advantages. Unlike shelter animals, you have the ability to know the dog's history, get an idea of its potential temperament, and have lifetime access to an expert on your particular dog breed.

Still the “Adopt Don’t Shop” movement didn’t come out of nowhere. You could easily run into puppy mills that don’t care about the animal’s welfare and are just pumping out pups for cash. Yikes! Not to worry, take notes on these questions to ask a dog breeder to find the perfect pup for your family.

Let’s kick this off correctly. One of the benefits of working with reputable dog breeders is knowing your dog’s health history, so let’s explore what to look for when buying a puppy.

1) Do the parents have health testing? 

The answer better be a heck yes! (And you shouldn’t have to go digging for it.) Just like humans, puppies can inherit disease from their parents. Reputable dog breeders will perform health screenings and DNA testing to ensure a healthy litter.

Look for information on OFA hips, patellas, elbows, cardiac, penn hip, eye testing (CERF), as well genetic testing. The breeder will have this information available on their website or on paper. (If they don’t run away.)

2) What’s the spay/neuter policy?

If you’re imagining you and your pup growing old together, this is one of the important questions to ask a dog breeder. Spaying and neutering means your dog can live a longer, healthier life. Reputable dog breeders will require puppy parents to spay/ neuter their puppy within a year. 

3) Where are the puppies and parents kept? 

Alright so you’ve made sure the parents are healthy and that your dog has the best chance at a healthy life by your side. Next make sure your doggo is growing up in a safe and happy environment. They should have access to their mother and littermates, be kept in a clean temperature controlled environment, and have plenty of room to get into puppy shenanigans. A breeder that wants to meet in a parking lot or anywhere other than where the puppies have been raised is a huge red flag. Additionally, make sure to get more than just pictures of where the puppies are kept. Breeders should be excited to hop on a video call with prospective parents to show them around the environment.

4) How are they socialized?

Did you know separation anxiety in dogs stems from limited time with their mother when they’re young? Early socialization is a key part to your future relationship with your dog. Just like babies, puppies hit important milestones in their first few months that lay a foundation for a lifetime. Some questions to ask your breeder might include: Does the dog play with its littermates, mother and other humans? How do you socialize the dogs to curb future negative behavior like fear of thunder or anxiety?

5) How will you select the puppies?

This is one of the best questions to ask a dog breeder because the answer is it should be a bit of teamwork. How do you know what to look for when buying a puppy? Reputable dog breeders spend hours with their litter and can help you identify the pup with the right personality for your family and lifestyle. You should always be able to see how they’re being kept and meet the dog parents, but the breeder may pick a dog for you or let you pick one out yourself.

6) What is follow up support like?

Friends, this should feel like the Apple magic desk of puppy breeders. A reputable dog breeder will offer lifelong support and guidance. You can expect to text or call your breeder for health information throughout your dog's lifetime, as well as look to them for guidance on managing life stage transitions.

7) Does the breeder conduct temperament tests?

They better! Otherwise, what’s the point of working with a breeder? Temperament testing can help identify the quiet or active dogs so they are a better personality match for you. More importantly, it can also help identify dogs who might be more prone to panic attacks or aggression and thus need more socialization before they are matched with a family.

8) Can you visit the dogs in their homes?

This is one of those trick questions to ask a breeder. If they say no, it’s time to look for another breeder. You should be able to make sure your dog was raised in a healthy environment. Breeders are likely keeping the dogs in their homes, so it's important to be mindful of their time by making an appointment ahead of time. Additionally, due to COVID, many breeders have transitioned to video only and that is not a red flag. Pictures only, however, is a red flag.

9) How often are the dogs bred?

Friends, you know it’s a puppy mill if there is more than one breed on the grounds. Reputable dog breeders tend to specialize and are more concerned with animal welfare. They will make sure their female dogs have plenty of time to heal and regenerate. Each female dog should only have 3-4 litters in her lifetime and with a rest time of at least 1.5-2 years.

10)How do you know they are a reputable dog breeder?

Ok you asked all the right questions, but how do you know the breeder’s responses are legit? Ask for the social proof! This is one of the most important questions to ask because it will give you peace of mind. Ask if they are members of dog breeder associations, ask for reviews and references, and ask local shelters and veterinary clinics about the breeder. You are adding a new member to your family and paying a pretty penny for it, you want to make sure you are making a good choice.

We hope this list of 10 essential questions to ask a dog breeder gives you the right tools to pick a breeder. Adding a new pet to your family is sure to bring you happiness, relaxation, and plenty of laughs. Let us know if you have another question to ask a dog breeder in the comments section below.