If you’re thinking about purchasing a puppy from a breeder, you should have a list of questions you’re prepared to ask. In fact, Exceptional Canine offers a helpful blog on what to ask a dog breeder.
If the breeder is reputable, however, they’ll likely be asking you some questions too. Screening puppy buyers is just about the most important thing we do. We breeders have a lot invested in our puppies, and we’re very concerned that they wind up in the right home. Of course, we also want our buyers to be happy.
Here are a few questions you should expect to hear from your breeder:
What’s your past experience with dogs? If you owned a dog, what became of it? How long did it live? One of my puppies went to owners who previously owned a 12-year-old St. Bernard. Those dogs never live that long, so I knew they took good care of him.
Do you have a veterinarian, and will they provide a reference for you? We believe that someone who spends several hundred dollars for a puppy will be more invested in the dog -- and therefore more likely to spend money on veterinary care to provide for the dog’s health.
Do you have kids? If you’re looking at a dog that might not be suitable for small children, we’re going to be the first ones to tell you that. We really do want the right dog with the right family.
If you do have kids, can we meet them? We’re not so concerned with how your child interacts with the puppy, but we are very concerned with how parents respond. I had a child poking fingers in my dog’s eyes and pulling on the dog’s tail, and the mother did nothing. I was disappointed she didn’t protect the dog, because I was ultimately concerned the dog would bite the child in self-defense. And hounds put up with a whole lot more than other breeds, which means they can be seriously hurt by a prodding child.
What do you plan to do with your dog? If you’re hoping to show the dog, you’ll need one that not only looks the part, but also has a personality that enjoys dog shows.
Do you have a fenced-in yard? And are you prepared to walk the dog on a leash? There are very few places where it’s safe for a dog to run loose, so we’re very leery of people who say they’ll train the dog to stay in their yard.
How will you keep your dog active/healthy? I happen to raise a breed that doesn’t require a lot of exercise, but if you were to choose a more active dog, your breeder would want to know how you’d ensure your dog gets enough exercise.
Where will the dog sleep? If you get a puppy only to leave it to sleep in the doghouse out back, that’s not the kind of home we want our puppies to end up in.
If you can’t keep the dog for any reason, will you return him to the breeder? The minute that puppy is born, the breeder assumes lifetime responsibility for him because the breeder brought him into the world. We want to know if you lose the dog. If one of my puppies got lost, I would move heaven and earth to get him back.
If you run into any issues with the dog, will you call the breeder? If something’s going on that you’re not quite sure how to deal with, we expect you to pick up the phone and call, because it’s probably something we’ve all experienced. Some dogs in my breed (black and tan Coonhounds), for instance, are susceptible to hypothyroidism, which can present all kinds of strange symptoms. If you call us first, we might be able to save you some money at the vet’s office.
If you want to read more about this, I recommend How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend and The Art of Raising a Puppy, by the Monks of New Skete.