A reputable pet source will consider their animals’ well-being a high priority. In addition, a reputable pet source will ensure your pet has been provided with appropriate experiences and is on the right foot to becoming a healthy, well-rounded furry family member! Below, we have provided specific questions you can ask each dog source in order to gain a better understanding of the animal source you are considering and the type of care they provide their animals.

There are many options as to where you can get your new furry companion! Possible animal sources include:

Breeder

If you are interested in acquiring a purebred dog, it is important to ensure you go to a reputable breeder, one who cares about animal wellbeing, living conditions, and breeding for health and temperament. Visiting the breeder, taking a look at the conditions of the dogs and their living space, and asking the breeder questions will help you make an informed decision. Reputable breeders will also tend to ask you, the prospective buyer, questions to make sure their puppy is going to a good home.

It is important to visit breeders’ homes to see the living conditions of the breeding parents and their young and to at least meet the mother dog, if not both of the breeding parents. If the breeder doesn’t allow you to visit, or doesn’t allow you to meet the breeding parent(s), this is a red flag.

It might also be helpful to ask for references from other homes that have adopted dogs from this breeder. Hearing about their experience will be beneficial in deciding whether you want to choose a specific breeder or not.

Note: if the puppies are represented as purebred, the breeder is required to provide Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) registration at the same selling price and should commit to this prior to purchase. For more information, go to the “Code of Practice for CKC Member Breeders” and read the section titled, “Selling practices”

Questions for the breeder:

  • 1)

    How are the puppies raised?

    • a. Are the puppies kept inside or outside?
  • 2)

    Can I meet the parent(s)?

  • 3)

    What type of temperament do these dogs have?

  • 4)

    How much does this breed shed?

  • 5)

    How much socialization does this breed need?

  • 6)

    How active is this breed?

    • a. How much exercise does this breed need?
  • 7)

    Who do you (the breeder) use to train your own dogs?

  • 8)

    What are the common health problems that should be expected for this breed?

  • 9)

    Do you (the breeder) have a license?

  • 10)

    How many visits with a veterinarian have the animals had?

    • a. What vaccines have the dogs gotten so far? What vaccines do they still need?
  • 11)

    Have the puppies been dewormed?

  • 12)

    Have any of the puppies in the litter been sick?

  • 13)

    What is your (the breeder’s) health guarantee?

    • a. What is the time length of the guarantee? (e.g., a 30-day guarantee, a 1-year guarantee, etc.)
    • b. What diseases and conditions does it cover?

      NOTE: Breed parent clubs have recommendations about which health conditions and diseases specific breeds should be tested for. We encourage you to contact a breed parent club in your area to learn this information.

  • 14)

    What does your (the breeder) contract include?

    • a. Do I have to spay/neuter the puppy by a certain date?
  • 15)

    What is the family history of the puppies?

    • a. What genetic diseases are you (the breeder) screening for in your breeding pool and litters?
  • 16)

    Can I get a health certificate and certificate of sale?

  • 17)

    Are you (the breeder) willing to be a source of information and help after I adopt the animal, and answer any of my questions?

Reputable breeders take good care of their animals and want them to go to a good home. By making sure you buy from a reputable breeder, you can help animals to be bred for quality not quantity.

Animal shelters and rescues

Animal shelters and rescues tend to have a wide variety of dogs to choose from. It’s important to ask questions about each individual dog. The staff may have history on the dog you’re considering or may have noticed certain behaviours and traits through their interactions with the dog. Asking shelter staff questions regarding a shelter dog you are interested in adopting will help you decide whether the dog is right for you, your family, and your lifestyle.

Questions for the shelter staff:

  • 1)

    What is the personality/temperament of this puppy/dog?

  • 2)

    What are the characteristics of this breed?

    • a. How much does this breed shed?
    • b. How much exercise does this puppy/dog need?
  • 3)

    How many visits with a veterinarian has the puppy/dog had?

    • a. What vaccines has the puppy/dog gotten so far? What vaccines do they still need?
  • 4)

    How did this puppy/dog come to be in the shelter?

  • 5)

    Are there any known behavioural problems with this puppy/dog?

  • 6)

    What is the past medical history?

  • 7)

    Is there anything else I should know about this puppy/dog?

  • 8)

    What is included in the adoption fee?

  • 9)

    Do you (the shelter) offer a health guarantee?

    If yes:

    • a. What is the time length of the guarantee? (e.g., a 30-day guarantee, a 1-year guarantee, etc.)
    • b. What diseases and conditions does it cover?
  • 10)

    Are you able to be a source of information and help after I adopt the animal?

Pet Stores

Some pet stores sell puppies from breeders or other sources; however, many pet stores have moved away from doing this and instead some serve as a satellite location for an animal shelter or rescue. If the pet store does sell puppies obtained from a breeder or other source, ask the pet store the same questions you would ask a breeder to ensure the source of the puppies is reputable. If the pet store serves as a satellite location for shelter animal adoptions, information about individual pets can be obtained through both the pet store and the animal shelter. When visiting a pet store, we encourage you to look to see whether the animals’ living spaces are clean, the staff are knowledgeable, and the puppies are healthy. Take note of the living conditions of the animals (space, food, water, hygiene). Pay attention to the condition of all animals in the store.

Questions for pet store staff:

  • 1)

    What are the characteristics of this breed? Or what is this breed’s personality like?

  • 2)

    How much does this breed shed?

  • 3)

    How much exercise does this breed need?

  • 4)

    What health problems are common to this breed?

  • 5)

    How have these puppies been socialized? For more information, go to our socialization page.

  • 6)

    Where did these puppies come from? (breeder or location)

  • 7)

    Can I speak to the breeder/original animal source?

  • 8)

    How many visits with a veterinarian have the animals had?

    • a. Are the puppies up to date on vaccines?
  • 9)

    What is your (the pet store's) health guarantee?

    • a. What is the time length of the guarantee? (e.g., a 30-day guarantee, a 1-year guarantee, etc.)
    • b. What diseases and conditions does it cover?
  • 10)

    Are you willing to be a source of information and help after I purchase the animal and answer my questions?

Online source

If the online source you are getting a puppy/dog from introduces themselves as a breeder, it would be beneficial to ask similar questions to what is under the “breeder” section. In addition, we encourage you to consider visiting where the puppy or dog has been living and meet its parent(s).

If the online source is a person needing to give up their pet, it would be beneficial to ask them the questions under the “from a friend” section below. Asking for previous health and behaviour history of the puppy or dog will also help you to make an informed decision about whether the puppy/dog is right for you, your family, and your lifestyle.

From a friend

Gaining information regarding reasons for removing the dog or puppy from the friend’s home, and previous health and behavioural history will help you decide whether this dog is right for you, your family, and your lifestyle.

Questions for a friend:

  • 1)

    What is the personality/temperament of this puppy/dog?

  • 2)

    What are you currently feeding the dog/puppy?

  • 3)

    How much exercise does this puppy/dog need?

  • 4)

    How much does this puppy/dog shed?

  • 5)

    How has this puppy/dog been socialized so far?

  • 6)

    Where did this puppy/dog come from (e.g., breeder, pet store, animal shelter)?

  • 7)

    What are the reasons behind deciding to rehome your puppy/dog?

  • 8)

    Did you have any behavioural problems with the puppy/dog? E.g. destructive behaviour, aggressive behaviour, separation anxiety, etc.

  • 9)

    What is the medical history of this puppy/dog?

    • a. How many times has it visited a veterinarian and what were the reasons for the visits?
    • b. What vaccines has the puppy/dog gotten so far?
    • c. Does the dog have any medications?
    • d. Has the puppy/dog been dewormed?
  • 10)

    Are you willing to be a source of information and help after I purchase the animal and answer my questions?

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. (n.d.). Where can you look for a dog? and Where can you look for a cat? In A commonsense guide to selecting a dog or a cat. Retrieved from http://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/commonsense-guide-to-selecting-a-dog-or-a-cat

Petfinder. (n.d.). Five Common Misconceptions About Pet Adoption. Retrieved from https://www.petfinder.com/pet-adoption/pet-adoption-information/misconceptions-pet-adoption/

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