Questions to Ask When Buying a Puppy
Simply asking the right questions can be the best way to avoid the risks of the illegal puppy trade
The following questions can help you to ensure you don't get tricked. A responsible breeder will be happy to answer them and will provide you with information on how to care for the puppy.
Questions About the Puppy
How old is the puppy now?
Compare if the age matches with the one in the advertisement.
When can I take the puppy home?
Should be no earlier than 8 weeks and ideally 10 weeks of age. If the puppy has been imported from another EU country, they would need to be at least 15 weeks of age.
Does the puppy have a pet passport?
In many EU countries it is illegal to sell the puppy without a pet passport. In the UK, where it is not a legal requirement, selling puppies with pet passports can be an indication that the puppy was imported.
Is the puppy microchipped?
In many countries it is illegal to sell the puppy without a microchip. The microchip number needs to be included in the pet passport (EU) or animal health certificate (UK).
What vaccinations does the puppy have?
By 8-9 weeks of age, the puppy should have been vaccinated against distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parainfluenza, parvovirus, often also kennel cough, and would still need to receive their rabies vaccine at 12 weeks.
Is the puppy dewormed?
A responsible breeder will deworm their puppies but don’t rely solely on words – request to see all relevant medical information about the puppy.
Can I come and visit the puppies first before deciding to buy one? Can I see the mother dog? Can I also see the father dog?
If the dealer is hesitant for you to come to their home to see the puppies or offers to deliver the puppy this is not a good sign. You should always visit the puppy in the place they were born and meet the puppy's mother (and father if possible) as well.
Can I see the puppy’s documents prior to the purchase?
A responsible breeder will show you all the documents (pet passport, microchip information, pedigree certificate (if applicable) before the purchase. If they are selling the puppy without documents, walk away immediately.
Will a contract be signed for the purchase of the puppy?
A responsible breeder will insist that you both sign a puppy buying contract which is designed to protect both the breeder and seller and promote responsible breeding.
Is the puppy healthy?
It is important to check this with the breeder and to have their statement in writing, for example in the contract that the puppy is healthy and has been screened for any breed health issues. In some European countries, it is illegal to sell a dog that the breeder/seller knows is sick or not healthy. If the breeder/seller claims the puppy is healthy and in fact the puppy is sick and the seller has lied, this information will be important for you.
Has the puppy or the parents been tested for common diseases of the breed?
There are a number of tests available for specific breeds that the parents should have received prior to breeding and the puppies should receive at certain stages, for example, a hearing test for Dalmatians.
Questions About the Breeder
Are you the breeder?
It is important to know where the puppy comes from. In some countries such as in the UK, third-party dealers are not allowed to sell puppies.
Are you registered as a breeder? Do you have a registration number?
The EU Animal Health Law requires all breeders and sellers of dogs and cats to be registered with the competent authority. It came into force in April, 2021. While not all countries in the EU have enforced it fully yet, others issue a unique number to every single breeder from the first dog bred onwards, and you shouldn’t buy a puppy without the breeder having a valid unique registration number where it is legally required.
Are you registered with the Kennel Club?
Anyone claiming to be a Kennel Club breeder would need to be registered with an official Kennel Club. If so, you can enquire about the legitimacy of the breeder through the Kennel Club.
How many litters do you have in a year? How many litters has the mother of the puppy had until now?
The answer should not be more than 3 litters in a dog’s lifetime.
Do you offer other breeds of puppies? Do you have puppies of other colours or ages?
The more breeds of puppies and choice of different animals the breeder offers, the bigger the risk that they are a dealer sourcing puppies from elsewhere to sell. These puppies could potentially come from puppy farms and be illegally imported.
If you are not happy with the answers to your questions, or suspect that something may be wrong, it is better not to purchase the puppy. If you are concerned about the legitimacy of the breeder, you should report them to your local authorities.
Finally, remember that a responsible breeder will also want to ask you lots of questions as well to ensure the perfect match for their puppy, so make sure you are fully prepared to answer them.