Questions to ask a Breeder at first contact!

Buying a puppy can be a minefield – or it can be an absolute pleasure.

One of the main problems when purchasing a puppy is wishing to create a good impression with the breeder, BUT equally wanting to seem knowledgeable AND ensure that this breeder ticks all the right boxes towards buying a well bred, potentially healthy puppy. My primary advice would be to ask the following questions on the telephone or by email. Visiting a litter will tug at the heartstrings, and then, even if the answers are not what you were wishing to hear, your heart may over rule your head and you purchase a puppy anyway!

So many times we hear people saying they KNOW they shouldn’t be buying, but they got there, and the pups looked basically healthy, and the breeder seemed nice….and so…. they went for it knowing they should be walking away…  DON’T BE THAT PERSON – YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR PUPPY DESERVE BETTER!

Lets lay out the first contact BASIC Questions so you can save that heartache, possible wasted desposits and huge embarassment:

Absolutely essential questions:

1) Are BOTH parents hip scored? What are the scores for each? Will I be able to see copies of BOTH parents hip score certificates? (Note here that saying a dog is hip scored is not good enough, they should both KNOW the result and be able to prove it by showing you the certificates. Any good stud dog owner will give a bitch owner copies of HIS certificates to show their puppy buyers, there should be no weak excuses).

2) Do they BOTH hold current (dated in the last 12 months) CLEAR eye certificates under the BVA/KC eye testing scheme?  (Ditto above as regards SEEING proof of this)

3) Does the breeder own mum and can she be seen? (You need to judge if she is the sort of dog you would like to own – therefore you must see her and like what you see of her).

4) Have the puppies been Kennel Club registered? (If they are not the chances are the parents are NOT health tested which is extremely shoddy on the part of the breeder.) If they have NOT has the breeder undertaken the above healthtests in points 1 and 2….? A tiny handful will have.
5) Were the puppies wormed regularly in the litter with a vet bought wormer? (Drontal, Panacur etc rather than a pet shop ‘nothing’ brand).

6) Does the breeder give you a diet sheet, copies of the documents for the sire and dam and a basic puppy pack when you pick your puppy up?

7) Were the puppies born and raised in the house to a certain age OR well socialised if raised outside, with plenty of human contact and access to sounds and smells of a day to day household?


Highly desireable questions:

8.) Have mum and dad been elbow scored? What is the result? Can you see the certificates?

9) Have mum and dad been Optigen tested/other DNA tests on at least one parent? can you see the certificates?

10) Are they fed on an easy to obtain food or something complex and obscure?

11) Do they fall between about £600 and £750 in price? (If not you have to ask yourself what is missing as they are too cheap or WHY they are overcharging – adjust that to where you live in the country – London may be MORE expensive, Scotland may be cheaper!).

12) Will the registration documents be ready to take when you leave with your puppy? (Some breeders SAY they will register the pups and send the docuemnts onto you, and you hand over the money for a registered puppy, but the documents never materialise – make sure you LEAVE with them at 8 weeks of age and at earlier visits gently mention this).

These questions can be expected by any reputable breeder and can be phased to come out in pleasant conversation, not necessarily firing them like a firing squad, you will save yourself a lot of trouble later. They are the basic essentials…. and will be found in many hundreds of labrador litters a year so don’t think you are narrowing your options by ruling out breeders who only do half the job.

Please see the section on this website called ‘FAQ’s on buying a Puppy’ for a simple explanation of the health schemes mentioned above.

Good luck!

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