Questions to ask a breeder
It is important that when you are looking to purchase a puppy or an older dog that you have confidence and trust in the breeder or person you are purchasing from. In Victoria it is a legal requirement that advertisements for puppies, once born, include the microchip number for each puppy or a letter from a vet explaining why the microchip number is not available - this might be because the puppy is too young/small to microchip. Breeders in Victoria are required to have a Pet Exchange Registry source number which will be required to be provided to the vet who the implants the pups microchip. It is highly recommended that you only purchase your puppy from a breeder registered with DOGS Victoria. DOGS Victoria breeders are governed by codes or practice approved by the Government of Victoria. DOGS Victoria is the only 'approved organisation' for dogs in Victoria. A DOGS Victoria breeder will have a 'prefix' or kennel name which identifies the breeder and all puppies bred by that breeder. You can check the membership and breeding status of a member of DOGS Victoria by calling the the office.
- How long have you been breeding?
This question will be an opening and generally will get the conversation flowing. You will get some idea about the breeders knowledge about general breed characteristics, health concerns and general animal husbandry. The length of breeding tenure is not necessarily important it is the amount of knowledge and the willingness to share that knowledge with you that is important. When I researched to purchase my first Basenjis I was actually very surprised about the lack of knowledge some of the breeders I contacted had about health concerns in the breed. You need to be able to trust and have a good relationship with the breeder of your puppy.
- What health testing do you perform on the parents and puppies?
The Basenji is a robust breed with few genetic diseases. The main diseases Basenji are predisposed to are: Fanconi Syndrome (fatal), Late Onset Progressive Retinol Atrophy (blind), Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (fatal but considered eliminated from the breed) and Hip Dysplasia (HD). There are small number of very rare diseases that are often associated with the breed; most are exceptionally rare. HD is relatively rare in Basenjis, however it is a condition that can affect all dog breeds. It is a health concern that reputable breeders should test their breeding stock for. Further details about Basenji health conditions can be found on this website. I recommend that you have a good understanding of these issues before you contact the breeder so you can ask questions. It is also important to ask for documentary evidence (not just words like ' the puppies are clear by parentage' or 'I don't have that in my line' or 'I don't need to test for that because my vet said it's not found in Australia') of the testing before your purchase the puppy.
- Will I be able to meet the parents?
Although, it may not always be possible to meet the sire of the litter as he may reside with another breeder you should always be able to meet the dam. From meeting the parents you will be able to assess the size and temperament. The dam is key to the temperament of the puppies as she nurtures them during the first few weeks of the critical socialisation period. Bear in mind that sometimes mothers can be very stressed and protective of their puppies when strangers are around them, especially if they are very young (a few weeks old).
- Do you provide a contract of sale, cooling off periods and/or health guarantee?
My advise is never purchase a puppy if there is no contract of sale provided. Ask for a draft copy to review. The contract will protect you in the unlikely event that the puppy has a serious health condition. Ask the breeder if he/she will take the puppy back at anytime if you are unable to look after the puppy for whatever reason? Purchasing a puppy from a Registered Dogs Victoria breeder (contact the Dogs Victoria office on 03 97882500 to check that a] the breeder is a member of this association and that b] the breeder holds a prefix and is therefore allowed to breed. This offers you some protection should anything go wrong with the purchase.
- Do you have a 'source number'?
Most states have or a bringing in a 'source number'. This number means the breeder has registered with the state government as a breeder. It does not mean the government has checked the breeder, their premises, breeding or their animal welfare. However, the system generally does give a purchaser or concerned individual a method to make a complaint about the breeder. Qld, Vic and SA currently have source number systems.
- Will the puppy come with it's vaccinations and worming up-to-date?
You should be provided with a vaccination and worming report when you collect the puppy. And the breeder should advise you as to the remaining vaccination and continued worming once you take the puppy home. Ask the breeder if they recommend titre testing the puppy, when and how this testing should commence.
- When will the puppy be ready to go to it's new home?
A puppy must not be re-homed before it is at least 8 weeks old.
- What is your after sale care/service?
Ask the breeder what after sale service they offer. After sale back-up could become critical if you need assistance in the future.
- What socialisation program do you have for your puppies?
The critical socialisation period for a dog is 0-16 weeks. Therefore, about half of this time is in the hands of the breeder.
Once you have spoken to the breeder evaluate their knowledge, was the call informative did you learn anything? Do you feel confident and that you can trust and work with breeder? Did the breeder ask you lots of questions? Was the breeder offended by any question(s) you may have asked especially those surrounding their health testing regime.
Red Flags - Warning signs do not purchase
My advise is to walk away from a breeder who:
- asks for a large non-refundable deposit (make sure the puppies exist before handing over any money)
- does not allow you to visit their property.
- does not have a contract of sale that you will be expected to sign.
- does not have a cooling off period for the puppy; a set period where you can return the puppy for a full re-fund less what consumer law allows the breeders to keep.
- offers to meet you somewhere to hand over the puppy, the breeder might suggest this because they live quite a distance from you - it sounds as if they are doing you a favour - do yourself a favour do not take the lazy route and tell the breeder that you want to visit their property to collect the puppy - if they say no because of ABCD reasons - walk away. It is an offence to sell puppies and kittens in car parks, on the side of the road or any public space in Victoria.
- is not able to supply you with documentary evidence of the health testing results of their dogs.
- is not a member of Dogs Victoria or other ANKC state body.
- will not be providing you with a certified ANKC pedigree.
- is not able to give you references if requested.
- was upset or offended by you asking searching questions about the way they manage their own dogs and their health testing and/or socialisation regime.
- is happy to 'seal the deal' immediately and/or does not ask you many questions.