If you’re in the market for a well-bred puppy from a responsible breeder, you need to 1) do your homework to pick a good breeder and then 2) have questions lined up to ensure the breeder is a good fit for you!

For help selecting a good breeder, check out our popular article: Guide to selecting a good breeder

The following are questions you might consider asking a breeder at some point prior to placing a deposit:

breeders german shepherd

General questions:

  1. Why did you choose to breed [insert breed]?
  2. How long have you been breeding?
  3. What sets you apart from other breeders?
  4. Do you health test all of your dogs?
  5. What kind of support do you offer after a puppy goes home?
  6. Where do your breeder dogs live?

Questions regarding breeder dogs (dams/sires):

  1. What health testing do you do? Can you show me proof of that testing?
  2. What temperament traits do you breed for?
  3. Do any of your dogs have behavioral issues? If so, what are they and are they genetic or a product of upbringing?
  4. Are any of your breeder dogs titled? If so, in what and why?

Questions regarding bloodlines:

  1. What are some of the more highly sought-after dogs in [insert breed] bloodlines? Why are those dogs desirable?
  2. Do you use outside dogs [from other breeders] in your breeding program?

Questions to determine if breed/breeder matches what you’re looking for:

  1. What are the dogs you breed most suitable for?
  2. What does the ideal home look like for your puppies?
  3. What type of home are they not well-suited for?
  4. What are some breed factors most people don’t take into consideration when it comes to [insert breed]?
  5. What are the “jobs” your dogs are best suited for?
  6. Am I a good candidate for your puppy?

Questions regarding puppy reservation/selection:

  1. How are puppies reserved?
  2. What happens if a litter doesn’t take [female doesn’t get pregnant] or the litter is smaller than expected?
  3. Who chooses the puppy: the buyer or the breeder? Why?
  4. Do your hire anyone or get outside help with temperament testing?
  5. Do your puppies receive ENS (Early Neurological Stimulation)? If so, what type and how often?
  6. What type of socialization do you do with puppies before they go to their new homes?
  7. How long is your wait list?
  8. What if I’m put on the wait list and am unable to get a puppy- do you refund the deposit?

Questions regarding contract:

  1. What does your puppy buyers contract include?
  2. Do you offer a health guarantee? What is your health guarantee?
  3. Do you have first right of refusal if I can’t keep my puppy?
  4. What happens if my dog develops a behavioral or health-related issue? Do you offer a refund or replacement puppy?
  5. Have you ever had dogs returned to you? If so, why? What happened to the dog?

In summary

Asking questions is something the breeder expects and is used to, so don’t be shy! A good breeder will have plenty of questions for you, too, to make sure you’re a good fit.  Stay away from breeders who just want to sell a puppy and don’t vet you first.

Good breeders health test their dogs (hips, elbows, eyes, heart etc) and breed conformationally-correct dogs with sound temperaments. Not all breeders title, but most working dog breeders do (to prove their dogs have what it takes to better the breed!). They provide proof of all this and are willing to let you meet them and their dogs prior to your placing a deposit.

Good breeders provide careful exposure to their puppies and temperament test their puppies to ensure they know which puppies will be best for which buyers. They never sell you two puppies at once, never sell sick puppies and always take their puppies back or offer a refund if there’s a problem later on down the road. Many good breeders have Guardian Programs where breeder dogs live with families and come back to the breeder to be bred and have puppies. (We love this concept!)

Good breeders leave you with an “I feel good about this” feeling after talking to them. They don’t pressure you to buy a puppy. In fact, some tell you outright if you’re not a good fit for their breed (based on lifestyle or home life). They always let you take their time. And they almost always have a wait list. They don’t charge based on color or gender; all their puppies are priced the same. And they don’t sell puppies with Full AKC Registration because they don’t want their puppies bred unless they pass health and temperament testing (sometimes titling) as adults.

Well-bred puppies cost between $1500-3000 on average.

For a list of breed-specific recommended breeders, check out the following article:

German shepherds breeders

More lists coming soon!

questions to ask breeders