Part 6: Questions to Ask Before Buying a Dog

Making the decision to get a dog, finding the breed that is right for you and deciding where to get your dog from has prepared you for the next, exciting step: finally choosing a dog! By now you not only know what you are looking for in a pet, you are also ready to answer any and all questions that you may be asked during the process, whether by your breeder, shelter or rescue group. At a rescue society or shelter you will be asked to fill out a form which will have questions regarding your lifestyle, past pet history and experience with the breed.

Following are some questions you can expect to be asked at this stage:

  • Why do you want this breed?
  • Do you have the time and energy to raise this breed?
  • Do you plan to provide your dog with adequate exercise?
  • What arrangements have you made for when you go to work?
  • Do you have children? How old are they?
  • Where will the dog live — indoor or outdoors?

Answers to these questions will enable the rescue volunteer or knowledgeable breeder to assess whether the dog you want is a good fit for you. At the same time, you should do your best to get as much information as possible about the dog, the breed and the policies of the shelter/breeder.

Questions to Ask Your Breeder

If you decide to buy a dog from a breeder, ask lots of questions before making your decision. Do some research beforehand; this will help you understand whether your breeder is knowledgeable, professional and responsible or a casual ‘backyard breeder’ looking to sell his first litter. A good breeder should be forthcoming with his answers, honest about his breed’s problems and happy to provide references and certifications. Questioning your breeder is also the way you will find out what to expect from your puppy. The following are some important questions to ask:

  • What health problems does this breed suffer from? What steps have you taken to remove these defects in your litter? Is this your first litter?
  • Are the pup’s parents on-site? May I see the mother?
  • What particular health problems do the parents suffer from? What problems have they been tested for? What type of puppies (if any) have they produced in the past?
  • What titles do the parents have? May I see their papers?
  • Where did you raise the puppies? Where and how were they socialized?
  • Have the puppies been temperament tested?
  • What shots have they had, and which shots will I need to give them?
  • What health guarantees and certifications do you provide? If the breed is prone to hip dysplasia, can you provide PennHIP or Orthopedic Foundation for Animals certification for both parents?
  • Are you a member of the local or national breed club?
  • What if I cannot keep the dog due to any unforeseeable reason? Do you help your dogs find new homes?

At the Shelter / Rescue Group

At the shelter, you will likely be asked more often than answered, but that is because the shelter staff will be trying to make sure that you and the pup of your choice are a good fit. Moreover, you are unlikely to find out as much about your dog here as you would at a breeder’s. For these reasons it is important to answer questions honestly and thoroughly, and observe and spend one-on-one time with the dog. Does he allow you to pet him? Is he aloof? Is he able to relax? Bring a toy with you and observe how he plays with it — when you walk up to the toy, does he get aggressive or is he happy to share?

The following are some important questions to ask the staff:

  • How does the dog react to other dogs, to the staff and to children? Has he been temperament tested?
  • How long has he been here?
  • What health problems does he suffer from?
  • What breed(s) is he?
  • Has he been vaccinated and/or spayed/neutered?
  • What information do you have about his last environment?
  • Is he house-trained? Does he understand basic commands?
  • How much exercise does he need on a daily basis?
  • What is your policy on returns?
  • Do you think that he will be a good fit in my house, with my family and with my schedule?

Don’t rush to buy a dog the same day that you see it, even if that is possible. Spend as much time with the dog as the breeder/shelter will allow, and take a few days to think about whether you really want the dog, want this particular dog and are ready for the responsibility. Revisit the dog. Then, if you are sure, go for it!

Image courtesy of vocabulicious

Buying Guide

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One Response to “Part 6: Questions to Ask Before Buying a Dog”

  1. watch dogs ps3 says:

    There’s certainly a great deal to learn about this issue. I like all of the points you’ve made.

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