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Puppy Questionnaire

What Questions Should You Ask a Breeder to Find Out if They are Responsible?

  1. How many litters of puppies do you have each year?


A responsible breeder will not have many litters.  A breeder looking to make money will have many litters, which should make you question whether or not you want to buy a puppy from a for profit breeder.


  1. How many females of breeding age do you have on the premises?


If a breeder has many bitches that are bred regularly, then once again it is a money making enterprise and you should not buy a puppy.


  1. How many times will you breed each female in her lifetime?


How many times a female is bred varies, is usually not more than 4 times.  If she is continually bred for her entire breeding life then she may be suffering health issues herself because of over breeding.  This will not produce healthy puppies.  Once again you will know that this is an unethical or for profit breeder.


  1. How many male dogs of breeding age do you have?


Beware if there are a ridiculous number of intact (breed able) males on the premises. 


  1. How do you insure that your breeding dogs are healthy?


A responsible breeder will check the health of their dogs regularly, via regular visits to the veterinarian.  In addition the tests listed below will be performed and certification of such tests should be available to you. 


  1. Do you x-ray and submit the parents for hip dysplasia (OFA Certification)?


Ask to see the OFA certification.  Or better yet check yourself at www.offa.org  by the dog's registered name.  If the breeder cannot produce it or tells you that her dogs have seen the vet and are healthy and/or they’ve never had problems – walk away

This is a very serious issue and there should be no compromising on your part.


  1. Do you annually, have the eyes of your breeding dogs checked by an ophthalmologist (CERF certification)?


Once again ask to see the CERF certificate.  This is an annual process, so check the date on the certification.  You can also look these up for yourself on websites www.offa.org or http://www.vmdb.org/verify.html  You can search these databases by the dog's registered name.


  1. Can you provide me with copies of both the OFA &  CERF certificates on both parents of the litter?


A responsible breeder will have no problem producing these documents for you and will likely give you copies readily.


  1. Have any of your breeding dogs or their littermates had any epileptic seizures?


This is something you will have to rely on the answer as there is currently no testing for epilepsy, but the breeder should know epileptic seizures exist in the English Springer Spaniel and be willing to discuss it with you.


  1. What are the temperaments of the sire and dam?


A good breeder will welcome the opportunity to talk about their dogs and discuss their wonderful temperaments with you.




  1. At what age do you let your puppies go to their new homes?


The best age to send a puppy to their new home is between 8 and 12 weeks.  Be wary of the breeder who is letting you take your puppy earlier than 8 weeks.  They are not ready to leave their mother and littermates.  They need the interaction with their littermates to equip them with the tools they’ll need later in life.  They learn how to play, assert themselves, be humbled and become confident and secure.  All qualities that you want in a new member of your family.




  1. Can I pick my own puppy from the litter?


A good breeder will match the puppy to the new families lifestyle and personalities.  A mismatch could cost the puppy his or her life and not be pleasant for the family.  Ideally you want a breeder that will not let you pick your own puppy, but rather direct you to the best match suitable to your own personality and lifestyle.


  1. Where are your puppies raised?


Be wary of the puppies that are raised in outdoor cages or small confined areas with little or no  human contact.  They will not be socialized or used to handling.  A responsible breeder will raise puppies in room in their home where puppies can receive lots of daily interaction and attention in a safe enclosure.



  1. How do you socialize your puppies before they leave your premises?


A good question and something that must be done.  Be aware of the breeder who tells you that they are well socialized and then can’t give you specifics.  They need human interaction and constant handling.




  1. Can I visit the sire and dam, if both are on the premises before the litter is born?


A responsible breeder will welcome your visit.


  1. Can I visit the facility that the puppies will be raised in?


Once again there should be no hesitation.


  1. At what age can I visit my puppy for the first time and can I bring my children?


Once again you should be encouraged to visit and always with your children.


  1. Am I required to spay/neuter?


This should be a requirement.  Spay/Neutering will make your dog a better pet and keep him/her healthier, reduce the risk of reproductive cancers and behaviors associated with sexual maturity.



  1. Do you have a contract?


Most reputable breeders will have some type of contract.  These will vary from breeder to breeder and you should ask to see a copy of it.  They should be willing to provide you a copy without hesitation.  It should clearly outline the guarantees for the purchase of the puppy.


  1. Can I contact you at any time with questions or perhaps to help me solve a problem?


Once again the answer should be Yes.  A good breeder will encourage you to keep in touch and want to help you when you have a question.


  1. Will you take the puppy/dog back if I can no longer keep it?


The answer here should be Yes.  The breeder should be concerned about his/her dogs for their entire life.  This should not stop at the time of the sale.


  1. Can you help me find a good trainer for obedience/agility/etc?


Yes, this should be automatic.  A caring and good breeder will want you and your new dog to get a good start and have a long and happy relationship.  Obedience training will get you off on the right foot with your new puppy and should be encouraged by the breeder.


  1. Do you require obedience training?


A good breeder will want you to learn to work with your dog and teach both the dog and your family how to live together and what to expect of each other.  Good obedience training will make your dog a pleasure to be around and ultimately insure that he/she has a happy home with a family that understands and loves him/her.


  1. What is the price of your puppies?


This varies from breeder to breeder.  A bargain is just that.  There is a good chance that if the price is really cheap then the breeder did not put any money into raising the litter and testing their breeding dogs for inheritable diseases.  Beware!  A savings of a few hundred dollars could cost you thousands in veterinary expenses in the future.


  1. Are your dogs on heartworm medication?


A responsible breeder will keep all of the dogs on heartworm medication in areas of risk.


  1. Were the puppies wormed?


All puppies should be wormed starting at about 2 – 3 weeks of age and at least one more time before they leave. 


  1. Will my puppy be vaccinated and if so, what for?


Your puppy should be given their initial vaccination at about 7 or 8 weeks.  This varies from breeder to breeder and from veterinarian to veterinarian.  You should contact your veterinarian and ask what they recommend and then discuss this with the breeder.  Be sure you feel comfortable with your breeder’s response.


 28.    Do you as the breeder have any questions for me as the buyer?


This is just a guide to help you find a considerate and responsible breeder to buy your new family member from.  Please use this to help you weed through the many breeders you should speak to.  Find a breeder that will take the time to talk to you and the one that makes you feel comfortable.   Many backyard breeders/puppy mills will be abrupt and find your questions to be annoying.  If that happens, find another breeder.  If they are not interested in your concerns now, they surely won’t be in the future and they are probably trying to hide something from you. 




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