Hints and Tips for Interviewing New Puppy Buyers

28th November 2012 - in Breeding

So a new litter is on the way and the potential buyers are lining up. The next step is to meet them all and interrogate them! A daunting task you may think, here are some hints and tips to try to find the bad eggs out from the nice genuine people.

First contact is usually a phone call or e-mail. If by mail then I suggest you ask them to ring for a chat in the first instance. Have a pad and pen to hand and record the answers to your questions. A liar needs a good memory and so do you... Take such details as address and post code, phone number, always ask for a land line, I realise many do not have one nowadays but most will and it is a more solid indication of a permanent address.

Search Engines

Sometimes it is possible to use a search engine to search the name and address to see if anything untoward crops up. Lots of unscrupulous breeders use web sites to sell pups and this information may well come up on searching for a persons name or address, it may help a little but do not depend on it.

Ask about the type of house and land available, much as it would be lovely to sell all our pups to people with lots of space this can work in favour or against the buyer. The right person will make owning a dog work in the worst environment and the wrong person will never make it work no matter what the land available. Remember that a puppy needs company and socialisation.

Someone living in a big house with acres of land who never takes the dog out as it has "Plenty of land to run round in". Who opens the door in the morning and expects the dog to entertain itself all day is not doing it any favours at all. However the one who has a handkerchief of a back garden but is committed to plenty of walks and will take the dog everywhere will make the better owner. Don't forget most puppies will need restricted exercise for a year and a huge garden with no supervision will harm your pupís bones.

Ask questions about why they feel the huge garden is needed. Find out if they are willing to fence of a smaller portion for the pup to start with. Try to ascertain if the garden is the pride and joy of the family and if they will be willing to accept that puppies can and often are very destructive to gardens.

Ask for information about why they have chosen your particular breed. What do they know of the character of the breed, do they know how easy or hard it will be to train and how much socialisation the breed needs? What are they looking for with the new pup; do they want a family companion or a house guard?


Make sure you ask about the children in the household, how many? What ages? Any planned for the next 12 months ? Deciding if you are happy with them is up to you, some people have children are that are fine and have a natural way with dogs, some are screaming shouting live wires and may not be the best, better then to wait till they are older. Younger couples seem to think that the decision to start a family and for Mum to give up work is an ideal time to have a puppy, this is often not the case and dealing with a young pup and a new baby is very stressful. If need be reserve judgement on the children till you meet them to make a final decision.

Ask what is known by the purchaser of health tests, have they done some homework, what about the work commitments, who lives in the house, who will take responsibility for the pup. You may by now have some indication of the type of person you are speaking to. Listen as much as you talk, subtle little hints can be picked up, i.e., "Our last dog never got on with Mum very well", a hint that Mum is not such a doggy lover maybe, does Mum live with the family? "We decorated after our last dog died...the cream carpet in the lounge is lovely" Hmmm, so will the puppy be allowed in the lounge with the family? "Will the pup need extra blankets in the winter" Why? Will it be shut outside in a kennel or outhouse?

One last thing to tell them on the phone is that there are no guarantees given that a puppy will be available for them until you have met face to face. The fact that you are inviting them to meet you is to complete the vetting process and not an absolute agreement to let them have one of your precious pups!

Meeting the Family

By this time you should be able to pick out some people who you would like to know better. Arrange a time for them to call (If possible before the pups are born) and see how willing they are to travel to meet you. It is advisable to ask to meet everyone who will be living in the house or will have a lot of interaction with the new pup. On the appointed day take careful note of how they cope with the first introduction to your adult dogs, and watch your dogs too they can be a great source of information to you if you read the body language right. Do they take to the visitors or are they wary and stand-offish? You know your dogs and should be able to read them well.

Make sure you have your notes from the phone call at hand, and after the initial introductions then settle down for a long chat. Run over your initial questions again taking careful note of whether the answers are the same as during the phone call. Did the family say that someone was at home all day on the phone and then let slip that actually on a Tues, Wed and Friday everyone goes out to work for the day?

Did the man who you spoke to on the phone say his wife loved dogs only for her to admit she had never owned one before? This is why it is important to ask again and again the same things, try to trip them up; the good honest ones will always have the same answers the others may not. It may sound hard to interrogate like this but you owe it to your pups to find out the true picture this way and people can be very devious if they think you will not like the truth. See how they react if you offer a cup of tea with the odd dog hair in it!! After all we know that this will be the accepted fact of life for the next 8 to 10 years.

Find out how the family feels about puppy training, are they going to go? Ask leading questions about how they will cope with the poo and puddles a baby pup can create! See how they react when you suggest the new pup may eat the wallpaper and the kitchen cupboards. Ask for a rundown of an average day in the family, is the family one who have a lot of holidays every year and may tire of kennel costs or heaven forbid feel it OK to leave the dog overnight alone with some food down!

Try to find out about the financial stability of the family (I know it's being nosy). Vets bills can be horrific and a dog costs a good bit more to feed than a cat so you do need to know that the initial purchase price is not the only cost the family has considered. See if they have made some enquiries about insurance. Ask some leading questions about what they expect of the new pet, casually mention breeding and neutering and if they have thought of it, if they say yes then ask them why. It is up to you to interpret the answers but you need the information in order to make a choice.

Introducing the Puppies

When the time comes to meet the puppies once again ask for the whole family to attend. Watch the reaction of any children, how the parents supervise them, how the children react to puppy nibbles, see what little Peggy-sue does (Or more to the point what Mummy does) when the puppy licks her biscuit. Look at how the family have dressed, are they in designer clothes or something more suitable? How do they handle the pups etc. If you pick up a less than spotless pup and thrust it into Mums arms does she quickly hand it back or just accept that pups are often grubby. Be very vigilant and once again run over the same sort of questions about home life, are the answers about the same?

Vetting new owners is quite a daunting job but to do your pups justice you must do your part. Never sell to someone you have not met (unless you are 100% certain that the buyer is genuine). Never send a pup off to a home without meeting the family first, remember there may be all sorts of reasons given for not being able to meet you but treat them with great caution. Puppy farmers and exporters can and will be very good liars and will sound very plausible.

Never sell a puppy without endorsements on its KC Registration and make sure you get a signed copy of your contract including an acceptance of the endorsements applied. If you have the slightest doubt about someone then check, check and check again, if the doubt persists then go with your head and tell them no.

No one gets it right 100% of the time but by being very watchful and by asking the same things over and over it is often possible to wheedle out the ones who are trying to hide something.

  • 4th December 2012 06:12 - Posted by : Violet

    Though this blog is aimed at breeders it has been useful to me as someone searching for the right breeder and puppy.

  • 17th December 2012 19:13 - Posted by : Storrswood

    I always do that, and keep in touch with all the new Mums and Dads, I am really lucky that such lovely people have my babies, I love them all and would take any of them back if needed

  • 20th December 2012 12:37 - Posted by : Barbara

    Not only is it in your puppies best interests to vet well, but in your own, (no breeder likes a home to go wrong if it could possibly be avoided, as they will have to pick up the pieces and take the pups back). Also if a home situation is unsuitable, no matter how nice the people, your saving them heartache and money too.

  • 26th December 2012 11:32 - Posted by : DOVEMERE BORDER COLLIES

    Just read the blog, and found it great, and just what I do for new owners. I have had people wanting a puppy to see if they can cope before they have a baby! Then others wanting a collie puppy when coping with a toddler!
    I have met lots of lovely people, and very lucky to have had all our babies go to loving forever homes. We also give a contract and could have a puppy back. Most of our owners have kept in touch, and it's lovely to see how the puppy has grown into a beautiful dog.

  • 26th December 2012 19:06 - Posted by : alan

    in total agreement with all stated,in the best intrest and welfare to all. the more questions asked by the breeder the better I fell

  • 28th December 2012 10:47 - Posted by : Tricolours

    Good advice! but if a breeder gave me a cup of tea with a hair in it first of all i wouldn't drink it and secondly i would feel the breeder wasn't clean. Gross!

  • 10th April 2014 17:04 - Posted by : Philip Schnauzers

    Excellent information. At the end of the day all dogs deserve that loving forever home so breeders have to be certain before handing over their puppy. At the same time, when looking to buy a puppy I'd be expecting the breeder to be asking lots of questions.