How do dogs choose their owners

How do I recognize a good dog breeder?

Dog purchase
© Vasiljev

Dog purchase

Puppies are simply irresistible! Usually it happened to us at the first sight. Unfortunately, this is also known to dubious puppy breeders who sell their "product" via the sympathy bar. Read here how you can tell whether a dog breeder breeds seriously or is just out for a quick buck.

You want to buy a dog and you already know which breed it should be (if not, read "Which dog suits us?"). But what's next? How do you get a reasonable breeder? What should you pay attention to when choosing?

1. Make a preselection

It is especially nice when a healthy, friendly, beautiful dream dog lives in your neighborhood and you can get the breeder's address from its owner. However, if you are not lucky enough to get a breeder's address through private contacts, your search for a dog breeder will likely start on the Internet. While browsing, make sure that the breeder:

  • belongs to a breed club of the Association for the German Canine Industry (VDH). Then you know for sure that a breed warden is watching over whether the parent animals are healthy and not too closely related to each other. The control mechanisms of the breed clubs prevent uncontrolled "mass production" at the expense of the dog's health
  • doesn't live too far from you as you should visit him before buying a dog.

The breeder search function on the VDH website is very helpful, as it allows you to limit your search to dog breeds and postcode area.

Attention is popular when puppies are offered to you on the Internet or in the newspaper via classified ads. A lot is written and little can be checked. So ask critically and definitely visit the breeder before buying!

2. The first contact with the breeder

Call different dog breeders and make sure that the wavelength is right. A dedicated dog breeder will not only tell you about his dogs, but will also ask you in detail about your living conditions, your experience in dealing with dogs and what demands you place on your dog.

Conversely, you should question him just as thoroughly. If both the breeder and mother have successfully raised puppies, their routine will benefit the puppies. But breeding bitches are also not allowed to serve as birthing machines. Reputable dog breeders only look after one litter of puppies at a time and usually only breed with one breed. If you get a signal on the phone that puppies are available at all times, this is not a good sign.

Are there any puppies already, ask:

  • How did the pregnancy and delivery go? There were problems?
  • Are all puppies healthy and gaining weight? Did puppies die?
    It happens that puppies die at birth or shortly afterwards. The breeder should be able to explain to you why it was. This also includes having a veterinarian determine the cause of death in order to rule out deformities or infectious diseases.
  • Does the bitch have enough milk for all puppies? Does she take care of her offspring?
    If more puppies are born than there are teats - i.e. more than eight - the breeder may have to bottle feed them so that everyone is full. Bottle-raising puppies is a very demanding task. If mistakes are made, the puppies' social behavior can also suffer.

Be alert when you are told a heartbreaking story of the tragic death of the dog mother and the loving hand-rearing of the weak orphans or something similar. Dog dealers like to use this pity scam to bring their product to the buyer! As hard as it is, with the purchase of such a puppy you are promoting replenishment production and thus new dogfound misery. If you suspect that you are being duped, it is best to inform the police or veterinary office.

3. Your impression on site

Nothing can replace a visit to the breeder. A reputable breeder will be just as interested in getting to know you as you are in them. If you can, it's best to go several times before the big pickup day. You should pay attention to these during your visit:


  • Is the environment the puppies grow up in clean and tidy? Puppies make dirt and it has to be removed several times a day so that the little ones do not have to walk through their excrement and the infection pressure does not become too high, e.g. for worms.
  • Do mother and puppies have a lot of contact with the breeder family? This is important for the puppies' socialization (see below). A kennel with exercise for the dog family can be a nice thing because, for example, the puppies have a lot of space and learn early to do their business only on grass and not on tiles. But the puppies must also be able to get to know life in the house and people of all ages.

Mother dog:

  • How does the bitch react to your visit? Does she stay calm, does she get hectic or does she defend her puppies aggressively? It is perfectly fine for a bitch to want to protect her pups. However, she should let her keeper calm her down and treat you in a friendly manner if you keep a little distance from the little ones. Respect the feelings of motherhood and do not rush to the sweet offspring without asking.
  • In what physical condition is the bitch? Suckling puppies is extremely exhausting for the bitch. For example, a Labrador bitch produces up to 3 liters of milk a day (with 60% fat and 31% protein!), While a breastfeeding woman produces around 750 ml of breast milk a day. A breeder must therefore be very careful that his bitch does not become skinny.


  • Are the puppies lively and curious? Healthy puppies will run up to you and want to play with you. Unless, of course, you are unlucky enough to arrive at bedtime. Then please do not wake up if possible.
  • Do the tots have clean, shiny fur and equally clean, shiny eyes? Sticky eyes, nasal discharge, cough, or diarrhea are alarm signs and need treatment.

4. These are the questions you should ask

  • When will the puppies be given away? Correct answer: at eight weeks at the earliest. But it shouldn't be much later either, since socialization is largely over at twelve weeks.
  • What activities do you do with the puppies? The puppies' socialization phase begins in the fourth week. The more things the dogs now get to know as normal and harmless in the presence of their mother, the more relaxed they will react as adult dogs. Therefore, the breeder should drive a car with mother and puppy, for example, show them water, bring them together with children and, if possible, other animals.
  • What do puppies and mother dogs eat? Both should get high quality puppy food so that they are supplied with the energy they need to grow or suckle. You can read more about feeding puppies in the article "The best nutrition for growing dogs".
  • Have the bitch and puppies been dewormed? Some parasites are transmitted to the puppies while they are still in the womb or when they are suckled. Therefore, the bitch should be dewormed during pregnancy and the suckling period and the puppies should be dewormed when handed over to you.
  • Are the puppies vaccinated and chipped before they are released? Both are an absolute must. When you pick it up, you should have an EU pet passport and the necessary documents to register your dog with Tasso or another database.
  • Which puppy would you recommend to us? When awarding puppies, good breeders make sure that the characters of the dog and the future owner match. You will usually not give the most daring puppy to a novice doggie.
  • How does the delivery of the puppies work? Here you can get valuable tips on how to make it easier for your future puppy to say goodbye to the dog family (more on this in our puppy blog).

Tips to read on

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Allow me: Woody the Wachtelhund-Puppy, right here on top of his siblings and meanwhile a new colleague at Dr. Holier. You can take part in Woody's development on this blog. Not only in his big and small experiences, but also in our veterinary experience in nutrition, upbringing and the health of puppies. In Puppy Blog No. 1 you can read how we came across a German Wachtelhund and how we found the right breeder.

Hurray, hurray, the puppies are here! Woody and his eight siblings are born on April 15th, 2012. Unfortunately, the first great joy did not go unmolested, because there were complications ...

This decision needs to be carefully considered. Here you will find the crucial questions that you should answer for yourself before buying.