You’ve decided to take the plunge and make contact. Here are some questions to ask the breeder before arranging your first visit. It may be worth having a pen and paper handy to make notes, so you can think over their answers.

1.    Did you breed the puppy that is advertised?

This may seem an odd question to start off with, but it is always worth checking. It’s better to buy directly from the breeder, because you will want to see the puppy with its mother in the place where it was bred.

2.       Are the puppies available to see and handle where they were bred?

Insist on seeing puppies where they were born and bred. Hopefully this should be in a clean, warm and loving environment.

 3.       How big was the litter and how many puppies are left for sale?

If you are making the trip to meet the breeder, check that there is choice of puppies. Repeat the question when you visit, you should get the same answer as you did on the phone/email. If you don’t, there might be a problem such as illness. Puppies are vulnerable to disease and other complications at this early stage of life and you want to buy a healthy puppy from a strong litter.

4.       Has the mother or puppies suffered any illness or had other problems?

Honesty is always the best policy. If there has been illness you should expect to be told. As long as treatment has been effective this shouldn’t be a concern.

5.       Have the puppies been treated for parasites such as worms and what about vaccinations?

Generally puppies should have already started worming treatments before your first visit, the same goes for first vaccinations.

6.       Have the puppies’ parents been screened for inherited diseases?

Some breeds of dog can be affected by inherited conditions. Tests for these are now widely available, with schemes run by both the Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association. There are also DNA tests for certain breeds.

Happy with the answers – then it’s time to arrange the first visit. Just confirm that you will be seeing the mother with the puppies. You’ll want to see for yourself that they are interacting well together.