Once you have decided to buy a puppy, you must seek out reputable dog breeders who genuinely care about their dogs’ welfare. The dog breeders you choose should also be your source of information and should be willing to provide you with support in the future as well.
Before you set out to visit the dog breeder, keep a list of questions handy for him/her. It is essential to understand all that the breeder has done during the breeding process, especially regarding health checks, temperament tests and genetic tests. The best dog breeders will be forthcoming about this information.
In this guide, we tell you exactly what questions to ask your puppy breeder so you can bring home a healthy, happy puppy.
Table of Contents – Finding the Best Dog Breeders in Australia
- Questions to Ask Dog Breeders in Australia
- Are the breeding dogs certified?
- Why did you choose this particular breed?
- What are the dam’s and sire’s sizes?
- Can I meet the puppy, its littermates, and its parents?
- What preventative care do you provide for your dogs?
- Have the parent-dogs had health issues? Can I see the results of genetic tests?
- Is the puppy socialised?
- Is the puppy used to a variety of noises?
- At what age will you send the puppy home?
- Can you give me a detailed, handwritten/printed list of the puppy’s diet?
- Hallmarks of the best dog breeders in Australia
Questions to Ask Dog Breeders in Australia
Are the breeding dogs certified?
Every dog over the age of 6 months must be registered with the local council. Registering pure-bred dogs can help you understand the dog breed’s genetic predispositions. You can also read up on the genetic diseases the breed is prone to and assess whether it is suitable for your lifestyle. Mixed breed dogs such as cavoodles, oodles, labradoodles, mini groodles etc are usually not breed certified unless they are a breed in development like the Theodore (Cavoodle). With any mixed or designer breed dogs check all the relevant breed health testing that the parents have undergone including hips, DNA checks, patellas etc.
You can also ask the dog breeders if they keep other dog breeds. Ideally, ethical dog breeders do not raise too many breeds. If you see several different breeds at the breeder’s home, it could indicate indiscriminate breeding for profits or even puppy mills.
Is the breeder a member of any breed clubs? Breeds clubs have certain breeding ethics that breeders must abide by. For example, the National Groodle Association Inc, requires that their breeders have their breeding dogs hip and elbow scored and DNA tested.
What are the dam’s and sire’s sizes?
Better yet, ask dog breeders if it’s possible to meet at least the dam of your potential puppy. If the sire is not on location, you could ask to see his photos. This can give you a good indication of how big your puppy will get. This is especially important in the case of mixed-breed dogs. If you have an apartment or a small backyard, a small dog breed would be more suitable.
This will help you see the dam interacting with her puppies. The interaction can tell you a great deal about the dam’s emotional and physical health – both of which can be good indications of how the puppies turn out. It will also show you which puppy is confident, happy, and healthy.
Use this opportunity to handle the puppies one by one.
Examine the puppies closely. They should appear well-fed. A healthy pup won’t have any discharge, redness, skin issues, etc. The puppy’s coat should be glossy and non-oily and its ears should be healthy, pink, and odour-free.
The puppy should not feel bony across their back and ribs. Also, look out for a bloated belly; large bellies and poor body condition can be a sign that the puppy has worms. Puppies should be wormed at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age.
Try to assess the pup’s temperament based on how it handles meeting strangers and being held or played with. The puppy should be confident. It should neither be overly boisterous nor shy or timid.
Watch out for undesirable physical characteristics that can cause health issues. For example, flat-nosed dogs often have breathing difficulties. Likewise, long-backed and short-necked dogs have spinal issues.
What preventative care do you provide for your dogs?
Good dog breeders take their dogs for annual follow-ups to the veterinarian. All dogs should be dewormed and get flea/tick protection. They should also be vaccinated against canine distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and other non-core vaccines as per the local rules and the vet’s advice.
The best dog breeders will not breed dogs with health issues in the first place. Also, they will be forthcoming about any non-genetic health issues in their breeding dogs so potential pet parents know what to expect.
If the breed you are interested in is known for genetic issues of the hips/elbows, heart, or eyes, then the breeder should show you the test results of the breeding dogs. The dam and sire should be cleared for hip/elbow dysplasia, genetic eye issues, and heart conditions.
Here are the detailed questions to ask to assess the puppy’s medical history:
- Has the mother or the litter experienced any health issues?
- Have you started the worming programme for your puppy?
- Can I see the record of vaccinations done for the pup?
- Has the puppy been microchipped?
Is the puppy socialised?
Ask the dog breeders what steps they take to socialise their puppies with other people, dogs, other animals, etc. These early experiences are crucial for your pet. Here are the questions in detail:
- Has the puppy met other animals, including cats and rabbits?
- What sort of puppy training have you done to develop the pups’ confidence, tolerance to frustration, optimism and calmness?
- Have the puppies started toilet training? Can I see this set up and understand your routine?
- Have the puppies commenced crate training?
- Is the puppy used to being handled and played with?
- Has the puppy become accustomed to visitors, including kids?
- How is the puppy in the car? Do they get car sick?
Find out where the breeder keeps the litter. Responsible dog breeders will raise their puppies inside their homes and not outside in playpens and kennels. Puppies that get exposed to household sounds usually have fewer behaviour problems. The best dog breeders make it a point to expose their pups to the sounds of the blender, vacuum cleaner, doorbell, television/radio, people talking, etc.
This answer is very important. Ethical dog breeders won’t separate a puppy from its littermates and dam before it is at least 8-10 weeks old. This is crucial for your pup’s development, as it will learn many things, like bite inhibition and playing properly with siblings, during this phase.
Responsible dog breeders send some food to last the puppy for a few days. This is essential to prevent stomach upsets in the pup while it adjusts to its new environment.
Hallmarks of the best dog breeders in Australia
Look for these signs in your potential breeder:
- Plenty of high-quality food is available for all dogs
- The facility is clean and well-maintained
- All dogs have access to clean drinking water, fresh air, and sunshine
- The mother is always with the puppies – they are not separated for long periods
- The breeder and his/her family handle the puppies lovingly from time to time
- Puppies receive regular visitors
- The pups are reared inside the house, where they experience all the typical household routines they are likely to encounter in their new home.
- Does the breeder have other adult dogs? The pups should meet and socialise with them too.
Always research the breed thoroughly and ensure that it is suitable for your circumstances and lifestyle. Check with a vet if the breed is right for you and about its dietary needs, health issues, etc. Always insist on meeting the parent dogs.
These days, most private sellers have an online presence with reviews. Please read their reviews before committing to buying your puppy. Try to meet the seller in person at their home, so you can meet their dogs, and ensure that they are healthy, and socialised. Puppies should be raised in clean and hygienic conditions.
Avoid cowering, shivering, and growling puppies, those with their ribs poking out, or the ones with eye/ear discharge, redness, and skin sores.
Buying a puppy from an ethical and responsible dog breeder is important if you want to have a calm and healthy family dog. By following our best breeder guide you will be armed with a list of questions to ask a dog breeder, to ensure you’re buying from a reputable business.
Once you have decided on a dog breed and breeder, learn about how to train your puppy as this will be one of the best investments you can make to ensure your puppy grows up to be a good canine citizen. If you need more information about finding a quality puppy for sale or a reputable breeder, read our puppy buying guide.