There are many ways to go about acquiring a dog: adopting, inheriting from family, buying from a breeder, actually just finding a dog who is loose and being unable to find his owners.
Adopting from a shelter not only helps prevent dogs from being euthanized, it frees up shelter space for an animal who truly needs it, and it is good for the environment. Inheriting or finding a dog is out of your control and can't be counted on as a true means to getting a dog. There certainly are situations, however, where a family has a specific need and is seeking to buy a dog from a breeder.
Purchasing a dog from a breeder can be a stressful thing. There are a lot of things that could potentially go wrong, so it’s a good idea to come prepared with a list of questions to ask the breeder. Getting a dog through a breeder is an expensive prospect, so doing this will help give you peace of mind that you are making the right decision to purchase a dog from that specific breeder.
There are TONS of articles out there featuring checklists of questions to ask, so I read through a bunch of them and tried to distill the list into 10 easily digestible questions, so you don’t have to do as much research.
1. Can I meet the puppy’s parents?
Meeting the puppy’s parents will give you a chance to see (A) How big the puppy is likely to get, judging from the size of both parents, and (B) To inquire whether or not the parents are certified. Certified dogs have been evaluated and tested to ensure that they are disease-free and are not going to pass along genetic defects to their puppies.
2. Does the breeder have any information about the breed line?
You should inquire about this as well, because the breeder should hopefully be able to tell you things like: How long dogs in that breed line typically live, and what they typically die from.
3. Have the puppies been socialized?
Proper socialization is absolutely essential for the development of your puppy. This will determine how they interact with other dogs and humans of varying ages and will also determine how well they adjust to live in their new home.
4.Have the puppies been dewormed?
Puppies are born with worms, and they need to be dewormed. The breeder should have already seen to this.
5. Have any of the puppies in the litter been sick?
Ask if any of the litter have been sick, and if so, ask what the symptoms and diagnosis were and how they were treated.
6. Does the breeder have a guarantee?
Any reputable breeder should offer you a guarantee that the puppy is coming to you free of disease, and you should discuss how the breeder plans to compensate for any severe illnesses that may arise with your new puppy.
7. Do they have references?
It is a good idea to ask the breeder for references. This will give you information on how long they have been breeding, if the adoption process was fair, and above board, and how any problems were handled.
8. What is in the breeder’s contract?
Likewise, the breeder should tell you what is contained in their contract. Any breeder that truly cares about their animals will most likely want to take the dog back from you if a situation arises where you are no longer able to care for it, rather than have it end up on the street or in a shelter. Is your breeder prepared to do this?
9. Do they supply a health certificate, and a bill of sale?
You should ask the breeder for a health certificate from a veterinarian that certifies that your dog is in good health, as well as a bill of sale.
10. What is the breeder currently feeding the puppies?
It is generally a good idea to continue feeding your new puppy whatever they have been used to eating for a few weeks after bringing them home.
Of course there are plenty other questions you could ask a potential breeder, but these are definitely ones not to miss.
I also would like to take this moment to reiterate that purchasing a dog from a breeder is often a very expensive, and lengthy process, as any good breeder is going to want to vet you as thoroughly as you will want to vet them. If you don’t think you will be able to afford the process, don't have any specific needs for a dog, and don’t want to jump through a lot of hoops to get your dog, there are still a ton of amazing dogs at your local rescue or animal shelter who would love to come to live with your family so go give them some love!