Meet the Breeder

Don't be put off if a breeder isn't immediately responsive. Some breeders have full-time jobs, and they don't always have available puppies. Be selective. Find a breeder who is knowledgeable and make sure you're comfortable with them. Establish a good rapport with them as they will be an excellent resource and breed mentor for you throughout the life of your puppy. You should be encouraged to call the breeder if your dog has a crisis at any stage of its life, and he or she should be willing to answer any questions you have and should ask many of you as well.

Good breeders will want to make sure their puppies are going to good homes, with people who know what to expect and have made all the necessary preparations.

Check out the Premises

Observe the premises. Is the house/kennel clean? Dogs and puppies should be clean, well fed, lively and friendly. Look for signs of malnutrition (such as protruding ribs) or illness (such as runny nose/eyes, coughing, lethargy and skin sores). Pay attention to how the dogs and puppies interact with their breeder. Does he appear to genuinely care for the puppies and their adult dogs? Both dogs and puppies should not shy away from the breeder and should be outgoing with strangers.

Ask About the Puppy’s Parents

Visit the dog breeder's home or kennel and ask to see at least one of the puppy's parents. Get an idea of what the future holds for your dog in terms of temperament and appearance. Breeders should be honest about the breed's strengths and weaknesses and knowledgeable about the genetic diseases that can affect their breed — including what's being done to avoid them.

Breeders should be willing to share proof of health screenings such as OFA and CERF certificates with potential buyers. A reputable breed association will be able to help you determine if the breeder is responsible based on the testing they are willing to provide.

Don't expect to bring home the puppy until it’s 8 to 12 weeks of age. A puppy needs ample time to mature and socialize with its mother and littermates.