What to Ask When Buying Puppies: 5 Essential Questions For Buyers

Puppies are full of energy and can be a delight in the home. But they also require a significant amount of daily care and attention. Responsible breeders will ask you a few key questions to help match the right puppy with your lifestyle and needs.

What is the temperament of the puppies?

Puppies have personalities that can affect how well they fit into a home. For example, some puppies for sale are high-energy and need lots of exercise. This could be too much for families with busy schedules and little outdoor time. Other puppies have low energy and will love snuggling on the couch and watching TV with their family. If the breeder can’t provide an accurate temperament test, observe the puppies objectively when meeting them. Watch how they interact with their mother and other dogs. If they’re excited and running to meet you, mouthing your feet or hands and licking faces, they are very friendly and will make great dogs for active families.

On the other hand, if a puppy is shy and seems timid or scared, it may be a sign of future issues as an adult dog. Try to play with them and see how they react. Puppies that roll over on their back for belly rubs will be easygoing and likely get along well with people and other dogs.

How old are the puppies?

A puppy should be at least eight weeks old before leaving its mother. Younger puppies are less independent and can quickly become ill from exposure to disease or poor nutrition. Check for a healthy appearance by examining the gums (mucus membranes) and teeth. Look for a clean, pink color and top and bottom teeth that align. If a pup’s top and bottom teeth are misaligned, it could indicate an umbilical hernia. A substantial body with good muscle definition is a sign that the pup has a healthy build. Watch as the puppy interacts with its littermates and observe if it retreats to a corner or seems lethargic. You should also ask if the breeder has performed genetic testing on the parents and what those results were. Puppies are prone to certain genetic disorders, and knowing if the breeder has checked for these can help you avoid them in your pet’s future. Responsible breeders will provide you with a contract of sale that lays out your responsibilities. It may be a red flag if the breeder is unwilling to do this.

Are they vaccinated?

Vaccination involves exposing your dog to a killed or modified microorganism that causes the body’s immune system to learn to fight it. This way, the puppy is less likely to become sick if the disease ever appears in the future (or if your dog goes to boarding kennels or training classes). Puppies must be immunized against several infectious diseases, including parvovirus, distemper, canine infectious hepatitis, and rabies. These are called the “core” vaccines. Several non-core vaccines vary by region, lifestyle risk factors, and more. Examples include Bordetella, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis, and Influenza (dog flu). Newborn puppies have no immunity, so they get protection from their mother’s antibodies transferred across the placenta and in their first milk or colostrum (a form of passive immunity called maternal antibodies). This diminishes gradually over the first few weeks of life and is usually gone by twelve weeks. To ensure the puppies are adequately protected, veterinarians typically vaccinate them at 6-8 weeks, again at 9 and 12 weeks, followed by boosters four weeks later.

Are they registered?

A responsible breeder should be willing to provide you with the contact information of previous puppy buyers. This is an excellent way to assess how well a breeder cares for their puppies and can help you decide whether this particular litter is the right fit for your lifestyle. Many people buy a specific dog breed for its distinctive appearance, intelligence, or athleticism. Others may be drawn to a breed for the health and safety standards it is expected to meet. The ability to register a dog with the American Kennel Club (AKC) or United Kennel Club (UKC) can be a significant selling point for many puppy buyers. However, the existence of registration papers doesn’t necessarily indicate quality. Many puppies are sold as pets with no pedigree or other documentation. And, even if both parents of a puppy are registered with a reputable registry, it is only sometimes guaranteed that the offspring will be eligible for registration. This is especially true if the mother and father were not registered with the same registry.

Are they dewormed?

Intestinal parasites are common in puppies and can lead to malnutrition. Puppies may exhibit symptoms like diarrhea, weight loss, and vomiting. They can also pass on parasites to their owners and children. A reputable breeder will make sure that the puppies are dewormed. Ask them what worming treatment they give their puppies and at what time. Ensure you can see the mother with her puppies before purchasing. Ensure that she looks healthy and happy and does not have a lot of discharge or scratches in her ears. Also, check the puppies’ eyes and ears to avoid redness or swelling. Lastly, check that they are alert and can respond to your voice or clapping. A responsible breeder will provide you with a contract of sale that states the responsibilities between both parties. You will also be given a copy of the puppy’s veterinary records, including complete physical exams from a veterinarian.

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