Deciding to bring a puppy home is an exciting time, and it’s tempting to rush the process, especially once you have set your heart on a breed. We get it! As anxious as you are to call Fido your own, asking the right questions to a perspective dog breeder will ensure you are bringing the right pup home. Consider it fun homework. Here are the top 6 questions…

To begin, always ask for references. Always. Good breeders will have several contacts ready.

1. How long have you been involved with this breed, and how many litters do you have in a year?

2. Can we meet the parents? Many dog breeders will allow and even encourage perspective buyers to meet and interact with the litter’s parents. This is a great way to gage overall temperament and general health.

3. What shots/vet visits and de-wormings have the puppies had? A good breeder will have a checklist ready and will know when the next shots are due, and what the puppies have received so far.

4. Along the same vein, have the puppies been declared healthy? Which each breed comes the risk of genetic disease and inherited disorders. Breeders should be transparent about this and willing to discuss what you should expect (and the best breeders will be able to address the steps they’ve taken in minimizing health problems in their litters).

5. When can we take the puppy home? Although of course you want the answer to be “today”, reputable breeders will not allow the puppies to be taken away for the litter until at least 7 weeks of age (and ideally between 8-12). Smaller toy breeds may be required to stay longer.

6. I’ve bought a puppy from a breeder! Now what? Many breeders require a contract. Read it carefully! It will contain important information on their expectations regarding spaying or neutering, hereditary disease, and taking the puppy back should there be a problem.