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Buying a dog is a matter of trust - which breeder is the right one?

A pedigree dog from a breeder is going to move in with you. But the agony of choosing is giving you sleepless nights. How can you tell if a dog breeder is reputable?

You don’t just want to buy any old dog. Have you decided on a particular breed instead? Then it’s clear that you should get your dog from a breeder. Depending on where you live and which dog breed you like, there could be several breeders to choose from. So, where should you buy your puppy and what should you look out for when buying an adult dog from a breeder? Here are ten tips to help you choose your new four-legged best friend: 

10 tips for choosing a dog breeder

Dog buyers who fall for dubious sellers often had an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach beforehand. Some scammers’ tricks are easy to see through: for example, you should never transfer money in advance, either for a visitation or for the dog itself. Is it your desire to get a dog from a good and reputable breeder? Then pay attention to the following tips before you buy a young or older dog from a breeder:

1. Inform yourself beforehand and make personal contact!

By doing some online research, you’ll quickly find all of the possible breeders in your area. Maybe you already know a dog owner who can give you the name of a reputable contact. Look closely at the homepage of the website. How is the kennel presented? Do you trust the company? Would you buy a dog from the people you see there?

If you have a good feeling about the breeder, the next step is making personal contact. You can write an email or call. It’s best to write down some questions in advance. The initial conversation, whether in writing or over the phone, shouldn’t be about a concrete purchase. Try to have a conversation with the breeder, find out more about him and his animals and then arrange a first visit.

The rule is: Reputable breeders are always happy to answer your questions and are pleased by the interest. You should be suspicious if the other side reacts evasively and does not want to divulge anything about their dogs.

2. Make sure you see the kennel! 

The kennel reveals a lot about the breeder. Therefore, you should be shown everything on your first visit before you buy a dog. It’s a good sign if the breeder shows you around willingly and answers your questions. In addition, you should pay attention to the following: 

Cleanliness

Of course, rooms in which dogs live are never clinically clean. Nevertheless, certain standards of hygiene should be maintained, and the rooms should appear pleasant and bright.

Permanent state or snapshot?

If you have the impression that the breeder has cleaned up especially for you or leads you to a remote part of the property, which is the only bit that’s clean, something is not right. It’s best to come by several times to check it out.

3. Take a close look at the conditions under which the dogs are kept!

Maybe the dog has not yet delivered her litter on your first visit and you can concentrate on the other animals living there. Two points are central to the living conditions:

Social contact

If you’re buying a puppy, it’s first socialised by the breeder. The dog should be used to people, as well as different surroundings and animals. Is there a close relationship with the household? Is the dog allowed to go outside? Is it already familiar with certain noises and everyday situations such as cars driving by?

Feeding

Nutrition plays an especially important role when buying a puppy. In the first ten weeks, the new-born dog lives on its mother’s milk. After that, the breeder is responsible for a nutrient-rich diet. Many breeders also provide a food supply for the puppy, so that it does not have to go through a change in diet during the first stressful weeks.

4. Pay attention to what the dog breeder asks you!

A responsible breeder wants to know who he’s selling the dog to. Questions about your everyday life, your work and your surroundings should be part of the initial conversation. Breeding involves a lot of work and commitment, so it should make you suspicious if a seller isn’t interested in you at all. Trustworthiness also means rejecting unsuitable buyers or advising them accordingly. The breeder can best tell you which puppy will suit your character. Therefore, he must first find out who you are. 

5. Ask about preliminary veterinary tests and vaccinations! 

Of course you want your dog to be healthy. If you buy an older dog from a breeder, these questions are especially important, but young dogs should also be vaccinated, dewormed, and chipped before the handover. What does this mean in concrete terms?

Vaccinations

from the 8th week

against canine distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, and leptospirosis 

verifiable in the vaccination certificate

Microchip 

received from the vet with the pet passport

Deworming

standard examination by a vet

make sure you get the address and phone number of the vet! 

6. Spend time with your future puppy!

You can only buy a puppy in Germany after it’s 8 weeks old. If the breeder wants to sell it to you earlier, it’s irresponsible. In order to assess your new flatmate a bit better, you should get to know him in peace. Alarm bells should go off if the puppy seems apathetic, displays physical injuries or is very anxious. Young dogs are usually curious and want to know who’s visiting them. When playing, pay attention not only to the behaviour of the puppy but also to the condition of its coat and eyes. 

7. Ask about the mother and her breed!

The mother of the litter should be healthy and have a harmonious relationship with the breeder. Criminal puppy dealers separate the mother from her young too soon and often treat the animals harshly. They might show you some other dog and try to pass her off as the mother of the litter. This calls for close observation.

Also ask for the following facts about the mother:

Age

The dog should be between two and maximum eight years old. 

The birth

Did everything go well? Did the breeder take care of the animal if there were complications?

Litter frequency

Disreputable dealers are interested in constant “puppy production”. One litter per year is ideal for the animal, up to three is acceptable depending on the living conditions. 

Breed characteristics

What are the special features of this breed? Were there any personal reasons for the breeder to choose this breed?

8. Find out if the breeder is a member of an association! 

Ideally, you can check if the breeder is a member of the breeding association (VDH, Verein für das Deutsche Hundewesen) on the internet beforehand. This membership is granted to sellers who breed recognised breeds. In addition, many breeders are members of official pedigree dog clubs. Research exactly which affiliation your breeder has and ask for his membership papers. The respective club also allows conclusions to be drawn as to whether the seller promotes breeding standards to the detriment of the dogs’ health. You should avoid so-called “overbreeding”.

9. Insist on the necessary papers!

Providing all of the necessary paperwork is no problem for a reputable breeder. Besides the health tests and vaccination papers, there should be proof of pedigree. The sales contract should also meet certain standards including, of course, naming the purchase price. For pedigree dogs, this is usually between €800 and €1,200.

10. Ask for another visit!

Getting to know the dog is great, but sometimes the cuteness of the puppy overwhelms the buyer and he can’t concentrate on the essentials. So, there’s only one solution: you should go back again. If you feel pressured into buying or a second visit is impossible for dubious reasons, then you should be careful. After all, it’s also in the best interests of the breeder to get to know you better. Buying a dog should never be like an exchange of goods, but rather like a lengthy job interview in which both sides are honest and courteous.

If you realise that the breeder is not the right one, then you should keep looking and cast a wider net. It’s worth choosing your new flatmate carefully! If you buy a puppy, it’s going to be by your side for 10 to 15 years. If you decide to buy an older dog from a breeder, then its character is more embedded so it’s even more important to get to know the dog.  

The puppy comes home with you

Ideally, the breeder will stay in touch with you after the sale. He will certainly be pleased to see photos and hear anecdotes, but the responsibility is yours after delivery. Therefore, it makes sense to find out early on about dog liability insurance. In general, puppies are co-insured with the mother for a few months. At Coya, this puppy protection is valid for a whole year. After that, it gets serious and damages and accidents can always happen. So, before you buy a dog, it’s best to check which insurance policies are suitable for you and your new flatmate.

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