Back in March we addressed the reasons for why adopting a pet rather than purchasing from a breeder or pet store is such a good idea. However, we know that many owners love certain breeds, and many owners have uses for certain breeds (ie working dogs). Therefore, if getting a purebred pet is for you, we recommend at least making sure you know a few things in advance before taking the plunge. Here are some helpful questions to ask a breeder before purchasing your purebred pet.
1) Are you a member of the breed’s parent club? How long have you worked with this breed?
- Good breeders will be members, and be willing to show you proof that they are members. Parent clubs are a good source of information for members to be up to date on best practices for the breed. They should have a wealth of knowledge on the breed.
2) What are the most common congenital defects in this breed? What genetic tests have you performed on the parents?
- If they are a good breeder, they will know every possible genetic defect that can occur in the breed. It is helpful if you research this information beforehand so that you have an idea of what to expect in their answer. The breeder should provide you with information for how they have screened for certain diseases.
3) May I come visit the parents? Are they onsite?
- The breeder should be enthusiastic about a visit; the mother should be onsite, but often the father would not be on hand, as in many cases the female is sent away for breeding.
4) Do you compete/what titles do the parents have?
- Not all great breeders will have their pets competing, but if they do, it is a plus as it shows that they know what best examples of the breed are.
5) What guarantees do you provide/do you have a policy on lifetime returns?
- A contract should be shown that explains what the breeder’s responsibilities are should the puppy have congenital defects/acquire defects later in life.
- The contract will also state what you as the buyer are responsible for (ie spaying/neutering the pet, returning the pet to the breeder if no longer able to care for the pet, etc).
- A well-defined contract indicates a concerned and caring breeder; not having a contract should raise suspicion.
6) How many litters do your raise a year?
- A few will be able to do many successfully, but in most cases, expect to hear 1-2 per year. Over 5 a year should encourage you to ask more questions.
7) How are the puppies/kittens socialized?
- The breeder should be willing to go into details on how and where they were raised. In the house is better (so the pets are used to household sounds and smells), and they should all have been handled by adults of both sexes, and children.
8) Do you have a waiting list?
- Responsible breeders usually do, and often only breed when they have a waiting list. They also usually do not advertise through newspapers or online sources, nor sell to pet stores.
9) Do you have any owners that you have placed puppies/kittens with that I can speak to?
- Not all great breeders will, but if they do, it’s just one more place to get information about this breeder from.
10) What veterinary care have these puppies/kittens had already? Can I speak to your veterinarian about the health of your animals?
- A great breeder will be working closely with their veterinarian to ensure the health of the litter and the mother.
Vaccination history is important: find out whether vaccines were started and given at appropriate times.
Their veterinarian will have examined all of the puppies for congenital defects, started vaccines at appropriate times, and dewormed them appropriately as well.
You may feel awkward asking some of these questions since they are so straight forward. However, if the end result is getting a very healthy, well-raised puppy or kitten, then we encourage you to ask these questions. The more you know upfront, the better prepared you will be in making your decision to work with that breeder. And of course, we still encourage adopting and rescuing as well!