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Checklist of Potential Questions to Ask Breeders

Remember, you are bringing in a new member of your family for the next 10 to 15 years.  

This is not like shopping at Walmart where you can pick up a name brand at a bargain price.

  • Where did you find out about this breeder?   Word of mouth is one of the best referral methods and a sign in the front yard is one of the worst referral methods in finding a reputable & responsible breeder.

  • Do both the sire and dam have hip/elbow clearances from the OFA or another acceptable registry?  Examples include OFA (, Penn-Hip, SV.  Do NOT take "My vet said the x-rays looked okay." as an answer.  If in doubt, ask to see the certificates.

  • Do parents have show or working titles?

  • Is the breeder willing to provide references?  This should include a veterinarian reference.

  • Is the breeder willing to take the dog back for any reason if you cannot keep it?

  • Is the breeder willing to be there during the lifetime of that dog to answer your questions and concerns?  

  • Is there a written health guarantee within a contract?  If so, for what issues and for what length of time?

  • Is the breeder involved competitively with her/his dogs?  If so, in what venues?

  • Is the breeder involved in a breed specific club and/or an all-breed club?  If so, to what extent?  Is s/he involved only on paper so s/he can claim to be part of a club?

  • Is the breeder knowledgeable about the breed?

  • Will the puppy be sold on limited registration with a mandatory spay/neuter time frame?

  • Are the sire and dam available for you to meet?  Often times, the sire may be from another kennel in another part of the country.  Ask if you can contact the sire's owner.  In visiting the sire and dam, remember that there may be restrictions based on the sole need to keep the puppies & mother safe from any outsiders that could unknowingly bring a virus/disease to the kennel.  Avoid a breeder who has an open door policy and no visitation requirements.

  • Where have the puppies been raised? How have the puppies been socialized?  From the day they were born, have they been handled by humans as well as Early Neurological Stimulation done from Day 3 to Day 16?  Starting at 4 weeks, have the puppies had lots of human interaction as well as exposure to daily household living with lots of experiences and noises?  When do puppies go home?  The longer the puppies have with their littermates, the better socialized they will be in understanding interaction with other canines.

  • Does the breeder supply you with a 3-5 generation pedigree, health/weight records, copies of all clearances, detailed instructions on feeding, caring, & housebreaking, as well as a written contract to sign and a bill of sale?

  • Has the puppy's temperament been evaluated and is the breeder willing to guide you to the best puppy to meet your expectations and lifestyle?  A breeder who lets you come in and pick any puppy based on what you see at the moment in time does not have the puppy's best interest in mind.

  • Do the puppies seem healthy? No discharge from the eyes or nose; no foul smelling eyes; no loose stools?  Are the puppies up to date on vaccines, de-worming, and checked by a veterinarian prior to going home?  Are the puppies coats soft, full, and clean?  Do they have plenty of energy when playing but are willing to calm down when stroked and held by a human?

  • Do you feel comfortable with this breeder?  Do you feel pressured or intimidated by the breeder? Trust your instincts!

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