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Congratulations! You’ve made the big, meaningful decision to get a dog. You’re ready to experience all the love a puppy brings to a home and with your mind now made up, the excitement is building and you’re anxious to find “The One.”
Having placed tens of thousands of dogs into loving homes, we are proud of both our expertise in selecting the top breeders in the country (we accept less than 15% of applicants into our network) and our commitment to matching well-qualified puppy parents to be with the right dogs for them and their families.
Over the years, we’ve talked to countless dog owners, breeders and puppy parents-to-be, and our goal has always been to help make the process of finding a dog easy and safe, while making the transition for the puppies and new owners as seamless as possible. Through our experience, we’ve learned the keys to responsibly buying a dog and want to share them with you.
To empower you and start you off on the right foot as a puppy parent-to-be, we’ve broken down the top 10 questions to ask your puppy source. By doing your due diligence with the necessary research, you’ll be able to make an informed, educated choice, thereby ensuring your puppy’s optimal well-being, health and happiness.
1. Where did the puppy come from?
It’s crucial to fully know and understand your puppy’s history – birth place, parents, lineage, characteristics, any known health issues, current state of care, any former owners, etc.
2. If buying from a breeder, is the breeder USDA licensed or legally exempt from licensing?
Fortunately, the breeding industry is regulated by the Federal government, and licensed breeders are required to follow strict standards on cleanliness, protocol and humane treatment of all animals on the premises.
3. Does a veterinarian examine the puppies before they’re adopted out?
Because your puppy’s health is of utmost importance, it’s imperative to make sure a licensed veterinarian has done a nose-to-tail examination of the puppy and has written up a comprehensive report so you’re aware of and adequately prepared for any issues before purchasing.
4. Is the puppy up-to-date on all vaccinations?
Make sure to obtain records of vaccinations to ensure the puppy is current on all the necessary immunizations for his/her age. Vaccines are essential to protect against potentially life-threatening illnesses.
5. Has the puppy been socialized with other puppies, dogs and people?
You’ll want to make sure the puppy has had regular interaction with not just other puppies in its litter, but also other adult dogs and of course, people. You’ll want to have a full assessment of any socialization or behavioral issues before deciding whether the dog is right for you and/or your family.
6. Do you offer a guarantee on the dog’s health?
Unfortunately, even the most well taken care of dogs can sometimes get sick. Because life happens, it’s important to be realistic and ask if your puppy source offers any sort of health guarantee or reimbursement, should you discover your puppy has a genetic or hereditary illness or contracts a disease within a certain period of time.
7. Can I see photos and video of the puppies and/or litters available?
A reputable breeder will not only answer any and all questions you may have, but will also happily send photos and/or videos of the puppies you’re interested in so you can not only see what they look like, but also observe their behavior and temperament. Because geographical limitations often prevent the ability to visit a facility in person, photos and videos are great ways to learn more about the puppies, parents and breeder.
8. What paperwork has already been filed, and what documentation will I receive with the puppy?
Find out if the puppy has already been registered and has the required certification. Some breeders will handle, while others require the buyer to complete the process. You’ll want to be aware of what paperwork (if any) lies within your responsibility. In addition, many breeders will offer proof of genetic testing for the sire and dam (parents) of the puppy.
9. What is the breeder’s experience and background?
It is your right to learn about the breeder you’re purchasing from – not just how they run their operation, but also their expertise and history with dog breeding. Besides amount of years breeding, you may want to ask if the breeder belongs to any breed organizations or clubs, what criteria they require of their stock, and simply, why they breed dogs. The love and passion for what they do will come through in their responses. You should also ask who you should reach out to with any issues after the sale. A good breeder will check in periodically after puppy arrives home.
10. Is there a contract? If so, what are the terms and guarantees?
Similar to the health guarantee mentioned above, understand the inclusions and limitations of your purchase agreement, which can include anything and everything from spaying and neutering to re-homing provisions.