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Getting a puppy- the most important questions to ask a breeder

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Questions to ask the breeder

Getting a puppy is exciting but it is important that you do not just jump in without finding out some important information about both the breeder and puppy. If you are thinking of getting a puppy, we share the most important questions to ask a breeder before making a commitment.

You should not be afraid of asking questions. Any responsible breeder should be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about them and their dogs and their methods of breeding and raising puppies.

There are some basic questions you should ask before you even go to meet the breeder and the puppy if you are able to.

Questions to Ask Before Visiting a Puppy

Did you breed the puppies yourself?
It is important to determine whether the person you meet and are buying the puppy from is the breeder. You should only ever buy a puppy direct from the person that bred it.

How many puppies are there in the litter?
You should ask the breeder this question before visiting so that you can check whether there is the same number of puppies when you go to visit them.

Will I be able to see where the puppies were bred?
It is a good idea to ensure that you will be able to see where the puppies are bred when you visit so that you can see what the conditions were like.

Will I be able to see the puppy with its mother?
You should always view a puppy with its mother before buying it.

How old is the mother and how many litters has she had?
Mothers should be between 12 months and 8 years old when they were mated and should not have had more than three previous litters in their lifetime.

Did she have a natural birth or require a c-section?
If the mother has had a c-section, find out how many c-sections she has had. A mother should never have more than two c-sections in their lifetime.

Will I be able to meet the father?
Sometimes breeders use stud dogs which means you will probably not be able to meet the father, but you might in some instances, and it is worth doing so if you can.

Have the puppies had any health problems?
It is important to find out whether the puppies have had any health problems since birth. You want to ensure that you are buying a healthy puppy.

Have the parents been health tested?
Ask whether the parents have any inherited conditions which your puppy may also have inherited. You should also research which health tests are relevant to your chosen breed and ask the breeder whether the puppy’s parents have had these tests. If so, check what the results were of those tests.

What is the puppy’s inbreeding coefficient?
Puppies are inbred if their parents are related. Inbreeding can cause severe health problems. The higher the level of inbreeding, the greater the risk of puppies developing inherited disorders, and result in them having smaller litters and reduced fertility.

You can use a coefficient of inbreeding (CoI) calculator to calculate levels of inbreeding. The lower the score, the lower the degree of inbreeding.

Before breeding, breeders should use a CoI calculator to help influence their decision as to whether they would be a suitable mate. You should check that this score is lower or equal to the breed average.

Can I have the registration details for the mother and father?
If you are provided with the registration details of the father (also known as the sire) and the mother (also known as the dam), you will be able to find out the inbreeding coefficient for yourself, as well as allowing you to check health tests.

Will the puppies be vaccinated and wormed before coming home?
Ideally, puppies should be vaccinated before you take them home. Puppies are typically wormed at 2 weeks, 5 weeks, and 8 weeks of age. However, some breeders may choose not to vaccinate them whilst they are in their care.

If you have asked these questions, and are happy with the answers, then you can arrange to meet the puppies. When visiting a breeder and the puppies, it can be easy to become distracted by the adorable puppies, but you must ask the following questions.

Questions to Ask When Visiting a Puppy

Can I meet the mother and the whole litter?
Try and see the whole litter and the mother. You can see whether any appear to have any health problems, and assess the environment they are being raised in.
This also allows you to see how they interact with each other and their mother. You can select the most suitable puppy for you and anyone else you live with.

How do you socialise the puppies?
Puppies should have regular interaction with other dogs and people to help ensure that they are properly socialised.

They should be used to a home environment from a young age and not appear unusually shy or scared of their surroundings.

Can I see the family tree and any health certificates?
If you are buying a pedigree dog, you should be able to view the family tree to tell you about the puppy’s ancestry.

You must ask about any health conditions that may affect the chosen breed. Also, ask to see any health certificates for the puppy and its mother and father.

Will there be a contract of sale?
A contract of sale is a must when buying a puppy. It will list both your and the breeder’s responsibility to the puppy.

When will the puppy be microchipped?
You should find out at what age the puppy will be microchipped if they have not been already. It is a legal requirement for puppies to be microchipped before they go home with you.

When will I be able to take the puppy home?
Puppies should not be rehomed until they are at least eight weeks old. However, in some instances, puppies may be rehomed from six weeks of age. If they will be younger than eight weeks old, check that the breeder has written confirmation from the vet that this is acceptable.

Ensuring that you buy a puppy from a responsible breeder which cares for their dogs is important, so make sure you ask these questions and any others that you may have before bringing a puppy home.

For more advice on picking the perfect puppy for you, get in touch with us today by calling 0116 244 2455, or email us at [email protected]


Dr Shahad Mohammed
Veterinary Physiotherapist
National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists
Dr Shahad Mohammed