The following is a list of questions that can help you weed out the breeders you wouldn’t want to deal with and help you on your way to finding a great dog! Remember, if you are asking a breeder questions and they do not answer them, they are probably not a breeder you want to deal with. The breeder should be eager to help you learn all you can. After all, they might be sending one of their puppies home with you!
1. ”What is your ultimate goal in breeding—do you breed solely for conformation (the physical structure and appearance of the dog and how closely it fits the breed standard) or temperament, or for breeding the dog for the task it was originally bred to do?” A good breeder breeds for all three qualities. A responsible breeder breeds to eliminate physical traits that can cause health problems for the dog (weak backs or hips, over bites, allergies) and also tries to produce dogs of sound temperament—dogs who are not aggressive, who do not snap or bite out of fear or nervousness, etc.
2. “Why did you breed this particular litter? What are some of your long-term goals in breeding these lines as well, how often will you use this bitch for breeding, do you give her a rest between litters? With this question, you can find out a lot about how serious this breeder is and how careful about breeding negative traits out and positive traits in. As well as how they care for their dogs. A breeder who can’t answer these questions is not a breeder you want to deal with.
3. “How long have you been involved with this breed? What can you tell me about the breed’s history, its strong and weak points, if this is your first German Shepherd, is this the right breed for me?” What do you do with your dogs besides breeding? Everyone has to start somewhere, so the length of time a breeder has been breeding dogs is not the most important fact to know. But asking this question will help you eliminate the breeder who says this is his first dog and all he knows about the breed is that they’re cute and fun to be around. Look for someone knowledgeable. Make sure their dogs are not living out their lives locked in a kennel. Good breeders love to talk about their breed! And in answering this question, a good breeder will ask you questions!
4. “How old are your puppies when you sell them? What does puppy come with? Will the puppy have had all of the necessary vaccines and vet check when we pick puppy up?” Reputable breeders do not release their puppies until they are at least eight weeks old. If any breeder is okay with sending puppy home before 8 weeks, walk away, they do not have your best interests at heart.
5. “What are the most common health problems with this breed?” Look for a breeder who will answer questions about health honestly and knowledgeably.
6. “What happens if we buy a puppy from you and it doesn’t work out?” A good breeder will not only say return the puppy that isn’t working out— they will demand it. Good breeders want to guarantee that their puppies not end up in kill shelters or homeless.
7. “Do you require new owners to spay or neuter puppies they buy from you?” A good breeder understands how difficult breeding a sound dog can be as well as the responsibility of not reproducing unnecessary dogs. A good breeder will encourage you to spay or neuter the pup.
8. “What kind of help can we expect from you after we have taken a puppy home?” Expect a good breeder to be willing to offer advice on feeding guidelines, housebreaking, obedience training, and dealing with problems after you have bought the puppy. Good breeders care about what happens to the dogs they produce and will want to do whatever they can to ensure that their puppies are doing well in their new homes. Expect follow-up phone calls, visits (if you are close enough), and e-mails, so the breeder can keep tabs on your puppies progress. Be willing to make yourself available to the breeder at these times.
9. “May I meet the parents? See the parents’ health records? The pup’s health records? The area where they dogs are kept?” A good breeder will be proud to show you where the dogs sleep and eat, the parents (if they are on site; a stud might have been imported for breeding a litter), and any and all records. Beware of any breeder who asks you to wait outside while they bring the puppy to you. What are they hiding?
10. Insure that you have a contract signed and have a copy available to read over all terms before putting down a deposit for your puppy. If there are any questions about the contract, ask before signing.
One of the last points and most important, a good breeder will ask questions about you and/or may require you to fill out a questionnaire to insure that you are familiar with the German Shepherd and if one of their puppies/dogs would be a good match for you and your family. A good breeder will want to pick your puppy for you. After filling out a questionnaire with as much information as you can, this will help the breeder choose the puppy (temperament and drives) that is best suited for your family and lifestyle. It is not enough to just look at a litter and then pick out the cutest one! In doing so, you have a great chance of soon realizing that this puppy may have not been the right choice! The breeder may want to know whether you have children in the home, how old, whether they have been exposed to dogs before, and whether they have been, or will be, trained in respectful treatment of pets. Breeders may also ask what kind of home you live in, whether you have a fenced yard, will the dog be chained. Do you have other pets, Have you ever given up a pet? Your prior experience with this breed, if any, and even why you want a dog and why a dog of this particular breed. Good breeders may also ask for references so they can confirm your character. A good breeder should also offer you a five-generation pedigree for your dog, so that you can see that the breeding programs that produced your pup have been solid. Just by telling a family that the parents are “CKC” is meaningless; just about any dog can be registered with CKC for a fee if they have been bred with another purebred dog. CKC registration does not guarantee a sound breeding or the quality of a dog. Does all of this sound like a lot of work? Well, yes, but if you think of how many years this beautiful puppy will be living with you, their personality and health will play a great role in your family.