Due Diligence with Breeders

jesika jesika · Updated February 23, 2024

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Registered dog breeders are required by law to provide new owners with information on the breed, training tips, grooming needs, and how much exercise the puppy needs to be happy and healthy.

Make sure you ask the following questions before buying a puppy from any breeder—registered or not. Knowing which questions to ask a puppy breeder will be helpful for first-time owners of any dog breed.

If you don’t know how to check if a dog breeder is registered, you can check on the USDA’s Animal Care Public Search Tool first. You can also ask the dog breeder to show their registration proof.

Is this dog registered with a kennel club?

If so, which ones and what is the registration number? Dog breeders will usually display registration certificates from major kennel clubs such as The Kennel Club (UK), the American Kennel Club, and the Canadian Kennel Club. They may also be members of smaller specialist clubs or associations for their breed, so you should ask if they belong to any. If they can’t produce a registration number or certificate, be cautious in buying a puppy from them.

How old is the dog?

A reputable breeder will not give away puppies before they are eight weeks old because they must have ample time to socialize with people and other animals. They should not be taken away from their mother before ten weeks, or until weaning is complete.

Can I have the puppy’s pedigree certificate?

Pedigree certificates are not always available for dogs bred from closely related animals – but most breeders will provide them if they have one. If they can’t, don’t buy a puppy without one.

Many times, you’ll find puppies for sale but without a pedigree certificate. It can be an attempt by the breeder to sell puppies through unethical methods and inbreeding generally leads to medical problems or abnormalities. Ensure the puppy you buy will have the best chance at a happy life.

Are both parents available to be seen?

A reputable breeder will not breed from animals with any hereditary defects, so they may need to keep the mother at their home or kennels, away from other dogs, for two or three weeks before the puppies are due. So, you should ask if you can see where she is housed and meet her too. If this isn’t possible, walk away.

What food are the puppies used to, and what brand do you recommend?

You will find it challenging to switch your puppy’s diet once he has settled into his new home, so it is best not to buy a dog that has been fed on raw meat or an unbalanced diet in the early stages of its life.

How will I find out what vaccinations and deworming the puppy has had and when he is due for another?

It’s best not to buy a puppy that hasn’t been vaccinated against deadly diseases such as distemper, hepatitis, and leptospirosis (a bacterial infection spread through rat urine).

Find a good puppy breeder who has completed all required vaccinations and has a complete health certificate for all the puppies they have.

You should also ask the breeder what deworming treatments they have used – even if you intend to use a different brand once you get your new pet home. Many dewormers are not suitable for very young puppies because they contain chemicals that may affect their health before their immune system has developed fully.

It should be clearly stated on the puppy’s vaccination certificate how many times it has been wormed—and you should stick to this regimen.

What food do the parents eat?

Reputable dog breeders will always feed their dogs a quality dog food because this is best for their health and coats. 

Those who are vague or not forthcoming about the puppy’s history, including their food habits and what they’ve been fed, shouldn’t be trusted. It would be best if you took note that these are dog breeders to avoid.

Have either of the parents won any prizes at shows?

If they have done well in the show ring, it’s a good sign that your puppy will grow into a top-notch adult with a ‘good breed type’ (ideal for his particular breed). However, even if he doesn’t win prizes as a youngster, he may mature into an exceptional-looking adult, so don’t be put off if he doesn’t have champion lineage.

If you’re wondering how to find a good puppy breeder, look for breeders who are forthcoming about any information about the puppy’s parents and the puppy itself.  

Have the puppies had any health problems in the past?

If they have, you should ask exactly what these were and how they were treated—for example, skin allergies may indicate that the mother was fed on an unsuitable diet before she was even pregnant. And if any of your breeder’s dogs have a hereditary disease such as hip dysplasia or epilepsy, that would be another warning sign to walk away from this litter.

Do you offer a contract with all your puppies? If so, can I see it?

A puppy contract will protect both parties should anything go wrong in the future—so insist on seeing it before you buy.

If anything goes wrong after I get my puppy home, will you take him back?

If the breeder is confident enough to let you have a money-back guarantee, it’s likely that they believe in their dogs and that your new puppy will be healthy. It also means they are prepared to stand behind their animals for life—so buy from them confidently!

If you’re buying the puppy from a breeder far away and need to get the puppy back to the breeder, consider using a transportation service like CitizenShipper. They have insurance and can provide regular updates about the puppy’s condition while they’re being transported.

What can I do if my dog develops an illness or problem? And who should I contact about this?

Get this information before you leave the premises, so there are no problems when something does go wrong! There may still be time for you to return your pet to the breeder—many breeders will take back dogs (especially those under six months old) if they develop a problem. Most good quality breeders will offer a Health Guarantee certificate, ensuring that your new puppy is blemish-free.

What should I do once I get my puppy home? Will you offer any follow-up advice, such as training him?

It’s important to know how to feed, care for, and train your new pup—so definitely get advice from the breeder and also do your own reading. Then sign up for a puppy class and start training as soon as possible!

If you fail to give your dog proper socialization and training during his first few weeks at home, problems may arise later, which are much harder to fix.

Need To Get Your Puppy Sent to Your Home? Our Transporters Can Help

When you’re buying your puppy from a quality dog breeder outside your area, it can be a hassle to drive or travel all the way there. When you want to save on unnecessary travel costs but get your puppy to your home safely, hire our pet transport experts at CitizenShipper to do it for you.

With thorough background checks and complete certification, our transporters ensure that the puppy is comfortable and safe throughout their journey. Contact us through our website to book one of our trusted transporters right away!