Questions to Ask When Buying a Puppy

Simply asking the right questions can be the best way to avoid the risks of the unscrupulous puppy trade  


The following questions can help you to ensure you don't get tricked. A responsible breeder will be happy to answer them and will provide you with information on how to care for the puppy.

Questions About the Puppy

How old is the puppy now?

Compare if the age matches with the one in the advertisement.

When can I take the puppy home?

Should be no earlier than 8 weeks and ideally 10 weeks of age.

Is the puppy microchipped?

In most states and territories in Australia, it is illegal to sell the puppy without a microchip.

What vaccinations does the puppy have?

Make sure the puppy is at least eight weeks old before they leave their mother, and that they are fully vaccinated.

By 8-9 weeks of age, the puppy should have been vaccinated against distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parainfluenza, parvovirus, often also kennel cough.

Is the puppy dewormed?

A responsible breeder will deworm their puppies but don’t rely solely on words – request to see all relevant medical information about the puppy.

Can I come and visit the puppies first before deciding to buy one? Can I see the mother dog? Can I also see the father dog?

If the dealer is hesitant for you to come to their home to see the puppies or offers to deliver the puppy this is not a good sign. You should always visit the puppy in the place they were born and meet the puppy's mother (and father if possible) as well.

Can I see the puppy’s documents prior to the purchase?

A responsible breeder will show you all the documents (pet passport, microchip information, pedigree certificate (if applicable) before the purchase. If they are selling the puppy without documents, walk away immediately.

Will a contract be signed for the purchase of the puppy?

A responsible breeder will insist that you both sign a puppy buying contract which is designed to protect both the breeder and seller and promote responsible breeding.

Is the puppy healthy?

It is important to check this with the breeder and to have their statement in writing, for example in the contract that the puppy is healthy and has been screened for any breed health issues. If the breeder/seller claims the puppy is healthy and in fact the puppy is sick and the seller has lied, this information will be important for you.

Has the puppy or the parents been tested for common diseases of the breed?

There are a number of tests available for specific breeds that the parents should have received prior to breeding and the puppies should receive at certain stages, for example, a hearing test for Dalmatians.

Questions About the Breeder

Are you the breeder?

It is important to know where the puppy comes from. 

Are you registered as a breeder? Do you have a registration number?

Most states and territories in Australia requires all breeders and sellers of dogs and cats to be registered. Find out more with your local state and council. You shouldn’t buy a puppy without the breeder having a valid unique registration number where it is legally required.

Are you registered with the Kennel Council?

If you are buying a pure-breed, enquire the legitimacy of the breeder with kennel clubs like Dogs Australia and the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC). Anyone claiming to be a pure-breed breeder would need to be registered with an official breed club.

How many litters do you have in a year? How many litters has the mother of the puppy had until now?

The answer should not be more than 3 litters in a dog’s lifetime.

Do you offer other breeds of puppies? Do you have puppies of other colours or ages?

The more breeds of puppies and choice of different animals the breeder offers, the bigger the risk that they are a dealer sourcing puppies from elsewhere to sell. These puppies could potentially come from puppy farms and be illegally imported.

If you are not happy with the answers to your questions, or suspect that something may be wrong, it is better not to purchase the puppy. If you are concerned about the legitimacy of the breeder, you should report them to your local authorities or RSPCA.

Finally, remember that a responsible breeder will also want to ask you lots of questions as well to ensure the perfect match for their puppy, so make sure you are fully prepared to answer them.

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