Updated: 4 days ago
Getting a new puppy is a huge decision, so it is important you feel comfortable with your breeder and that your values align. Getting to know your breeder and building up a rapport with them is an important part of your puppy search. This is especially true for breeders with long waiting lists who may be selecting between a large number of candidates. They also want to feel comfortable that your family are suitable candidates for their dogs and may want to get to know you before allocating you a puppy. You can help yourself stand out amongst many other applicants by being engaged with your breeder and being willing to go that extra mile when communicating with them.
Visits or Video-Chats
Many breeders appreciate potential puppy parents visiting for a friendly meet-and-greet, so they can meet you in person, you can meet their adult dogs and confirm that this breed is definitely the right choice for you. Others prefer to get to know you online and welcome in-depth discussions and queries so they can see you are putting effort into preparing for a puppy and you are serious about this decision. Where it is possible to visit a breeder's property, this is a great way to feel confident you understand where and how your puppy has been raised. There may be a number of reasons, however, that mean it is not possible to visit the breeder's property. This could be to do with distance, travelling restrictions, personal circumstance for either you or the breeder, or security concerns the breeder may have. Not being able to visit should not be a barrier to getting to know your breeder better.
Fabulous meet-and-greets can be arranged over video calls! Applying through RightPaw also allows you to message your breeder any time. They can share videos and photos through our chat platform and keep you informed of everything you need to know in the lead-up to being offered a pup.
If it has not been possible to visit or video-chat, you can still be confident that all RightPaw breeders have passed a physical or virtual site-inspection with our team. Even a breeder who has not been able to offer a walk-through of their property to the public has gone through this process with RightPaw, as a non-negotiable part of our verification criteria. We have confirmed that their facilities and practices meet our vet-approved standards, so you can have confidence you are supporting a responsible breeding program.
Meeting your puppy before they arrive
Some breeders will be able to offer the opportunity to meet your puppy for the first time before they are ready to come home to you. Every breeder will organise these 'puppy play-dates' differently. Some will invite families individually to meet the puppy they have already been allocated, a couple of weeks before the puppy is ready for their new home. This is an opportunity for you to confirm that your puppy looks healthy, their appearance is the same as described, and to see the environment they have been raised in. It is also your first chance to meet your new family member and get a feel for their personality – are they boisterous and confident, energetic and playful, or shier and quieter? You will have a chance to chat with the breeder about the needs of that individual pup and whether there are additional pieces of equipment or toys your breeder would recommend you buy before the big day.
Alternatively, many breeders will organise a play-date for a group of prospective owners at once. They may not have allocated you an individual puppy yet. They might do ‘temperament testing’ activities that day to look at the individual personalities of each puppy and match which family might be most suitable for each dog. Some breeders run a little information session to make sure every family is ready for a new puppy and have got everything organised at home.
For some breeders there may be safety or biosecurity reasons they can't allow visitors to meet puppies ahead of collection day. If this is the case for your pup, we recommend asking lots of questions about your pup's personality and ask for a few photos so you know who you are expecting on the big day!
The chance to meet the puppy’s parents
If you get to visit your breeder, you will be able to meet your puppy’s mother (sometimes called the ‘dam’). The puppy’s father (sometimes called the ‘sire’) may or may not live with the breeder so it is not always possible to meet them. Your breeder should, however, be able to give you plenty of information about the father’s appearance, temperament, and health.
A puppy’s mother is usually a fairly good indicator of what your puppy might be like as an older dog. Young puppies learn a lot from their mother in the formative first few weeks of life. You want to see a mother that is friendly, relaxed, looks healthy and well cared for. Parents of cross-bred puppies might look physically different from their puppies, but some of their personality and physical traits will be passed on, so you should feel comfortable that you like the puppy’s mother when you meet her.
Occasionally the mother might have already gone back to her original home if she doesn’t normally live with the breeder. This will only occur once her puppies are fully weaned, between 6-8 weeks old depending on State guidelines. In these circumstances breeders usually have other loving adult dogs who take on the role of socialising the pups until they are ready to go to their new families. You will usually be able to organise a meeting with the puppy’s mother separately if this is important to you.
Breeders can share videos and photos of their parent dogs with you through the RightPaw chat platform.
Take the time to read through your breeder's RightPaw profile in detail. It is here that many breeders outline what makes them different, their philosophies on breeding and approach to puppy rearing. When you have applied to a breeder, ask them how they like to communicate with potential pet parents and receive questions. RightPaw highly recommends all puppy parents have a phone conversation with their breeder before accepting a puppy so you both get to know each other more. Remember to give your breeder plenty of time to respond to messages - they are incredibly busy people!
Even in circumstances where you haven't been able to meet the breeder or puppy in person before the puppy has been transported to you, having established a personal connection with your breeder will help you to have confidence your puppy is coming from a responsible source. The right breeder will help you feel reassured your puppy is the perfect match for your family.
"Breeder Spotlight" - Ginnette Loft, Emeraldcity Cairn Terriers
Ginnette is an experienced breeder and international dog judge. As part of their selection process, her kennel uses temperament testing to match the right family with the right puppy:
"Emeraldcity invites all puppy families to come and meet the puppies (along with all of the Cairn clan here) and to participate in a temperament assessment of the litter. This really helps people to get to know all the puppies and to match people to a pup that best suits them. We try to get a live stream of the assessments for those who can’t attend."