Listed below is a check list that can help you with your search for that new family member. Print these questions and have them by the phone when you start to make your calls!
Remember that many of the breeders you contact may have a waiting list for their puppies, be patient. Waiting for that right puppy from a responsible breeder is well worth your time, after all you are investing in a 12+ year commitment.
1. Do both parents of the litter have their clearances? This is to include but not limited to, OVC or OFA hip clearance and elbow clearances, after the age of 18 months (OVC) (though we personally and strongly recommend 24 months even for OVC) and 24months (OFA), veterinarian board certified ophthalmologist report (within 12 months of the breeding), veterinarian board certified cardiologist report (after the age of 12 months). Ask to see the certificates.....if the breeder says "My vet says they are okay" or "he or she has never been lame in their life" is not a valid clearance. BEWARE!
2. Both sire and dam of the litter should be a minimum of 24 months, they can not receive a final hip or elbow clearance until after 24 months from OFA or a final hip clearances from OVC until after 18 months. We personally feel in the case of the female she is not mentally mature enough for raising a litter until she is at least 24 month of age or even older, at 18 months she is still a baby herself.
3. Ask the breeder about clearances on grandparents and siblings of the sire and dam of the litter, this is just as important as the parents themselves.
4. When was the dam of the litter last bred and how many litters has she had. If she is being bred every six months for more than two litters, this is too often and may indicate that they are breeding for profit.
5. Can you set up an appointment that is convenient with the breeder to come and visit the kennels and the dam of the litter. How soon after the puppies are born can you visit them and the dam?
6. Is the sire available for viewing? Many breeders send their females away to be bred, there for the sire is not available for viewing. They should though be able to show you his clearances and pictures. They also should be more than willing to give you information on how to contact the sire's owner so you can ask them questions and possibly go visit the sire.
7. If you are purchasing a pet puppy ask the breeder what their requirements are in regards to spaying and neutering. Responsible breeders will require that the puppy be spayed or neutered by a specific time and also that the puppy will be sold on either a CKC-Non breeding contract (in Canada) and a limited registration (in the US).
8. Ask why they choose that particular stud dog to breed to their female. It should not be because "he lived just down the street" or "he had a sweet temperament". But rather the sire and the dam complimented each other in structure, temperament, type and genetically the breeder feels that the pedigree's worked well together.
9. If for any reason you are unable to keep the dog, is this breeder willing to either take it back at anytime, and find it a suitable new home or is the breeder willing to help you in locating a new home for him or her?
10. Does the breeder have a written warranty against hereditary hip, elbow, eye and heart problems? If so what does the warranty state? Do you get to keep the puppy, or does it have to be returned to the breeder in order to have a replacement puppy?
11. Is the breeder willing to be available for questions you may have through out the lifetime of the puppy? Is this breeder knowledgeable enough with the breed that you would feel comfortable in contacting with any problems that may arise?
12. Is this breeder involved with the breed other than just breeding? Do they involve themselves in competition with their dogs, such as conformation, obedience, hunt tests, tracking?
13. Have the puppies been raised in the home with lots of socialization and interaction with people? You want to stay away from the puppies that have been raised outside all of the time or in a part of the house that has no or little contact with people, noises etc.
14. When does the breeder let the puppies go off to their new homes? Preferably you would like to have your puppy stay with it's littermates until 8 or 9 weeks. Puppies leaving as early as 6 or 7 weeks may show some behavior problems.
15. Does the breeder provide you with a diet sheet, 3 or 4 generation pedigree, pictures of mom and dad, copies of contracts/non-breeding contracts, copies of the sire and dams clearances, vaccination record, information on grooming, crate training, house training etc.?
16. Does the breeder let the new owners pick their own puppies or does the breeder pick the puppy for the new owner. A responsible breeder will try to place the right puppy into it's new home based on the puppies temperament and needs and the lifestyle of the new owners.
17. Will the puppies have a veterinarian examination before going to their new homes? They should be health checked by a veterinarian, given their first set of vaccinations, and dewormed at least once before going to a new home.
18. When visiting the puppies do they appear healthy? Do they have discharge from the eyes or nose? Are they pot bellied or have diarrhea? Are their ears clean, coats soft and clean? Do they have plenty energy when awake? Do they come to you for attention?
19. Is there more than one litter being raised at a time? With multiple litters being raised at the same time chances maybe that the breeder is not able to devote enough time individually to each puppy that is required for a well socialized puppy.
20. Does the breeder belong to any breed clubs? Breed clubs have Code of Ethics for their members to follow in regards to breeding practices, clearances, warranties, facilities etc.
21. This is a person (the breeder) that you should feel very comfortable with, as you are entering in to a long relationship.