You’ve taken the plunge and decided you’re ready to buy a puppy! What an exciting time! But puppies don’t grow on trees (wouldn’t that be a sight!).
You’ll need to do a little bit of research about what breed is right for you, and you'll need to do some casual detective work to assess the puppy and the breeder. After all, this is a big investment and you want to make sure that you’re buying a healthy and happy dog from a reputable breeder.
After a short phone call, arrange a visit by yourself. No matter how tempting it is to bring the kids along to visit a room full of puppies, you have to make the first visit on your own. Imagine how hard it would be to say no with your children’s sad faces staring up at you!
To make sure you're prepared, here's our handy check list of the 15 questions you'll need to ask your puppy breeder.
1. How old are the puppies?
It may seem like a silly question but you want to make sure they are between 3-12 weeks old. If they are any younger than 3 weeks, the breeder shouldn’t be accepting visits from prospective buyers and if they are any older than 12 weeks, it may suggest something is wrong with the puppies.
2. Are you able to see the puppy with its mum and dad?
You won’t always be able to visit the puppy with its dad but it is essential that you see it with its mum. You want to assess the temperament of the mum and the puppy and how they interact with each other. Is she aggressive or caring? Is the puppy hyperactive or docile? These answers will help you decide whether this is the right puppy for your family.
3. Are you able to see and handle the full litter?
The average litter will be between five and six puppies. By handling a few fluff-balls, you will be able to see whether they are all of similar size, character and health. You can also see how they interact with other dogs and you.
4. Are they weaned?
Puppies should be fully weaned at seven weeks so if they aren’t, it could be a sign that they are actually younger than the breeder is letting on.
5. What social experiences have the puppies had so far?
Most modern breeders ensure that every puppy has had ample interaction with people and their puppy siblings before they are ready to be sold. They may also have begun to teach them simple commands like, “No” or “Down.” However, they should not have been walked outside of their home or been in contact with other dogs besides their family.
6. What should I feed my puppy? Do you have a diet sheet to take away?
You want to know what the puppies are being fed because if you do decide they’re right for you, it is best to keep them on a similar diet, at least for the first few days in your home. A lot of breeders even keep a diet sheet that you can take home with you, letting you know when to feed them and how much. Pretty handy!
7. When am I allowed to take the puppy home?
Puppies should not be allowed to leave their mothers before 8 weeks because it can affect their development. The majority of breeders will let you take the puppy home after 8 weeks but some choose to keep them until 12 weeks.
8. Which vaccinations has the puppy had and when is the next dose due?
Puppies should receive vaccinations between 6-9 weeks old and another dose at 10-12 weeks old. If you are keen to take the puppy home at 8 weeks old, you need to know what vaccinations they still need to have before they can go and explore the big wide world (or the local park).
9. Has the puppy received any other treatments such as worming?
Similar to vaccinations, around the same time, puppies should be treated for worms and fleas. Did you know all puppies are born with worms? Poor things! If they haven’t been treated, this will need to be added to your to-do list.
10. Do you have any copies of health certificates for the parents?
Depending on the breed, some pedigree dogs have hereditary conditions that can be passed down to their puppies. By checking for health certificates, you’ll be able to see if there are any common problems that you might need to look out for.
11. Can I return the puppy if there are any health problems?
We really hope this won’t be an issue (fingers crossed) but, if for any reason, you do discover a serious health problem in the first couple of weeks, your breeder should be willing to refund you.
12. Is the puppy registered with the Kennel Club?
If you are looking to buy a pedigree dog, the breeder should have registered the puppies with the Kennel Club and be able to provide a certificate to state that they are, indeed, pedigree. If the application is still pending, it might be worth asking to see the certificate of the mum and dad.
13. Are you able to get references from any previous puppy buyers?
If they are a professional breeder, you might be able to contact previous buyers and visit their dogs. This way you can get a second opinion about the breeder and discuss openly whether their dog is everything they hoped for.
14. Will there be a contract of sale?
All reputable breeders should provide you with a contract of sale. This will state the responsibilities of both you and the owner and as well as an official document for your records.
15. Does the breeder place any caveats or guarantees on the sale of the puppies?
Occasionally, a breeder may require you to have the puppy spayed or neutered or you might not be able to show the dog. It is essential you know this before deciding to buy to avoid any disappointment.
Phew! I bet you didn’t expect there would be so many questions eh? But when you’re adding another member to your family, you want to be 100% certain you’re getting the perfect pup!
And of course, if you're about to purchase a brand new puppy of your own, they're going to need somewhere to sleep!