28 questions to ask when buying a puppy

  • The prospect of a new puppy is hugely exciting. But in the feverish anticipation of an adorable furry friend joining the family, it’s easy to be blinded from the reality that you will hold responsibility for this fluffy little being for the rest of its life – for better for worse, sickness and in health. And so it’s well worth doing your due diligence and thoroughly researching exactly what you’re letting yourself in for. There are questions to ask when buying a puppy which will pave the way for starting your relationship off on the right footing.

    Any reputable breeder, whether they sell puppies professionally or as a hobby, should be willing – and even expect – to answer your sensible queries. Your valid concerns will underline your status as a good home for their puppy. Along with all the things to look for when buying a puppy, there are questions that should be asked at different stages in your purchase journey: before you visit, before committing to purchasing, and as you prepare to bring your new puppy home.

    Questions to ask before visiting to choose a puppy

    1. Did you breed the puppy yourself? Puppies should be bought direct from the breeder.

    2. How old are the puppies? Puppies should not be sold before eight weeks.

    3. Can I see their home? You can check the conditions are clean, safe, and appropriate – and that you aren’t buying from a puppy farm and thereby encouraging irresponsible breeding.

    4. Can I meet the parents? The mother should certainly be available to meet, as the puppies will not be fully weaned at the stage you are interested in choosing a puppy. Sometimes the father will also be available, or some siblings. Watch how they react to humans and other dogs – how are their temperaments? Do they have any physical abnormalities they might pass down?

    5. How old is the mum and how many litters has she had? If she has bred more than four litters in her lifetime, started breeding before the age of one year or is over eight years old, alarm bells should ring.

    6. What are the temperaments of the parents? If both parents are very lively and you are hoping for a quiet dog, this is not an ideal match. Or if you want a dog that barks and the parents are mute, you will be disappointed.

    7. Can I see their pedigree? This is to check that there is no in-breeding, which makes genetic defects more likely. You can find out the inbreeding coefficient online. Ask the breeder if they have DNA tested their dogs, as this is a step taken to avoid the risk of in-breeding.

    8. Have the parents been health-screened? Reputable breeders typically health-screen their breeding dogs so that they don’t perpetuate any genetic diseases, and test for certain conditions prevalent in some breeds.

    9. Can I have the mother and father’s registration details? Then you can cross-check all the tests (and inbreeding coefficient).

    10. Have the puppies had any health problems? If any concerns, get a vet to check.

    Questions to ask during your visit and before committing to purchase

    1. Can I meet all the available puppies? This will allow you to make your own choice.

    2. Can I see the mother? You will know it is the mother by the way the puppies interact with her, and she will have enlarged nipples. Dodgy breeders may substitute a better model as a stand-in mother, so be aware of this ruse.

    3. Tell me about the mother and father’s temperament. Analyse whether these characteristics are what you would enjoy in your own dog.

    4. How much socialisation have the puppies had? Between three and 12 weeks, puppies go through a major developmental socialisation period, which the breeder should have started before they go to their new homes. This should involve interacting with both dogs and humans, and ideally children and other animals.

    5. Do the puppies have experience around children? Whether or not you have children, it is important to know how they are around them.

    6. Will there be a contract of sale? This should include details such as whether the puppy can be returned if there are any problems.

    7. Will there be any restrictions on breeding from the puppy when it is an appropriate age?

    8. When will the puppy be microchipped? This is a legal requirement in the UK from eight weeks.

    9. What age will you allow the puppy to come to my home? Eight weeks is the generally accepted minimum age.

    Questions to ask when preparing to bring the puppy home

    1. What food is he on and what would you recommend? So that when considering what to feed your puppy you can make any changes gradually.

    2. Is the puppy fully weaned? While the process starts at around three to four weeks, it can continue up to eight weeks.

    3. Can I have a record of the worming schedule?

    4. Has he had any vaccinations yet, and if so can I have a record?

    5. Can I see a record of his microchip, and scan it if possible? This is the breeder’s responsibility before the puppy is sold.

    6. Has he had any health issues in the past few weeks? This is not a deal-breaker as it may well be short-term, but you might want your vet to check he has fully recovered and it is not a long-term issue.

    7. Can we do a formal contract of sale?

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