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Pick A Healthy Puppy

Did you know that a healthy puppy can live 15 years or more depending on the breed?

Did you know that an unhealthy puppy can cost you many times the purchase price in veterinary fees?

Here are some questions to ask a breeder about his puppies. A good, reputable, responsible breeder will be more than happy to answer them.
It is your right, as a purchaser, to ask QUESTIONS and GET ANSWERS.
You can print a text version of this page to take along with you.

1.  How old is this puppy?

2.  How long have you been breeding this breed of dog?

3.  What are some traits of this breed? Are they active? Are they a good family dog?

4.  How old is the mother of this puppy?

5.  How many litters has she produced?

6.  How many litters do you produce each year?

7.  Are you involved in a breed club for this breed?

8.  Are you involved in breed rescue for this breed

9.  Where do your dogs live? In the house or in a kennel?

10. Can I meet the sire and dam to this puppy?

11. If you don't have the sire, can I contact the owners?

12. Have these puppies been socialized? Have they been handled by people?

13. Do you have references from your vet, groomer, or people who have purchased puppies from you?

14. What health guarantee do you offer with this puppy?

15. What health problems are common in this breed?

16. Have the sire and dam been checked and certified free of breed specific problems? Are they certified free of hip dysplasia?

17. Are the sire and dam registered with a kennel club? With which club?

18. Have the sire and dam been shown and, if so, do they have titles?

There is more good advice at Timbreblue Whippets.


1.  Puppies need to be with their dams and littermates long enough to develop good social skills and immunities to diseases. From their littermates, they learn bite inhibition, acceptable toilet habits and how to interact with others. Puppies do not begin to develop immunities until they are about 8-9 weeks old. It does not matter when you VACCINATE, it matters when the puppy's system is DEVELOPED.

2.  The breeder may not have sufficient experience with this breed to answer breed questions.

3.  Some breeds require extreme activites and exercise to keep them happy and prevent destructive behavior. Some breeds are notorious for being "one-man-dogs". Some breeds were developed to live with sheep or cattle and do NOT make good house pets.

4.  A female should not be bred before its second "heat", about one year of age in small dogs. Some breeds (bassets, bulldogs, ridgebacks--for a few) mature slowly and should not be bred until the females are two years old. This is a real biggie with basset breeders. Giant breeds such as wolfhounds and St. Bernards are generally not bred until they are 2-1/2 - 3 years old.

5.  Responsible breeders only breed their females once a year or twice in three years.

6.  A breeder who produces more than two litters per year should be suspect, even if he has many females.

7.  If the breeder is actively interested in improving this breed, he will belong to at least one breed club.

8.  Most responsible breeders are quick to take in rescues and NEUTER or SPAY them.

9.  Most responsible breeders have kennels but their dogs are parts of the family and live in the house. Puppies especially need to be with people when they are developing their social skills, from birth to 10 weeks.

10. Does the mother look like the breed she is supposed to be? Does the father? Are they friendly? Healthy? Some females lose some hair during and shortly after pregancy but should look healthy otherwise.

11. The owner of the sire should be more than happy to hear from you.

12. Puppies should have been handled by at least 7 people by the time they are ready to go home (see the "Rules of Sevens"). The owners count as ONE person, the vet, and 5 strangers. You don't count as one of the strangers.

13. The veterinarian will be more than happy to write letter of recommendation if he truly believes this breeder is responsible and the animals are healthy. Groomers are not necessary with all breeds. Satisfied purchasers will also supply those letters.

14. If the breeder is sure that puppy is healthy, he should offer a written guarantee to replace the puppy within a specific amount of time. Some offer the guarantee for 6 months, some for the expected lifetime of the dog.

15. Some breeds have specific problems associated with their physical attributes. You can check for web sites that are devoted to your breed or check the GUIDE TO CONGENITAL AND HERITABLE DISORDERS IN DOGS.

16. There are several certification programs available and if there is a problem, the parents should be certified to be free of them.

17. There are many clubs with which dogs can be registered. In the US, the largest is the American Kennel Club (AKC) followed by the United Kennel Club. If you plan to show your dog in AKC shows, the dog must be registered with the AKC or one of its recognized sister clubs.

18. Not all champion dogs come from champion parents and not all champion parents produce champion offspring. If the breeder is a responsible one, either parents or grandparents will have championship titles. Conformation shows are held to judge breeding stock. If the parent has competed in shows and has received no points, find out why not.

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