Reputable breeders should gladly answer any questions you have.  Don't be afraid to ask them, ahead of time, before you get your heart set on a particular pet.  A responsible breeder will want to match their pets with the right  families and will appreciate your concern and inquiries.

1) Ask to see the pictures and/or video of the litter’s sire and dam.  And better yet, ask if you can come and visit them.  If the breeder hesitates at all, be wary. Maybe the kennels are unsanitary or overcrowded. The dogs could be aggressive, fearful, or otherwise temperamental. If they don't want you to visit or won't show pictures/video, find another breeder.
2)  Ask them questions about their kennel.  Where are the dogs kept during the day? Where do the dogs sleep? How many dogs do they own?  Are the dogs permitted into the breeder’s house?
3) Ask the breeder to tell you about the sire and dam's temperament.  Look for specific and honest answers, not just generic "great pets" or "perfect companions".
4) Find out if the parents are shown competitively or compete in any way. What titles do they have? Reputable breeders like to show their dogs off.
5) Most reputable breeders should also be actively involved in a breed club and socialize with other breeders and pet owner of their breeds.
6) Request to see the pedigrees of both parents. A good breeder should be able to explain the puppies’ pedigree, noting why they chose each parent and how it will improve their line.
7) Ask about any genetic diseases or congenital defects that may affect the breed. A reputable breeder will be able to tell you about the diseases that are common in the breed. What genetic tests, if any, does the breeder do on the sire/dam or the puppies themselves?
8) Ask if they have any paperwork on hip and eye certification of the parents.  Good breeders want to produce puppies without issues and hip and eye certifications are a good start.
9) What inoculations and health screens/testing will they do on the puppies?
10) Learn about the breeder's pet contract and pet guarantee. Reputable breeders always have a guarantee for their puppies and require your signature on that contract. This is to protect the puppy, the buyer, and the breeder.
11) Most reputable breeders also require that the new owner spay or neuter the pet. This is an effort to protect the line from irresponsible breeding. If you plan on breeding your new pet, let the breeder know before you buy!
12) An ethical breeder will include a return policy in their contract. They should want what is best for their dogs, and if you are unable to keep the puppy – for any reason, at any time – they should be prepared to take it back.
13) Check reviews and references on the breeder. You want to find out as much as possible about how the breeder operates and the dogs they produce.
14) Find out where the puppies are kept between birth and going to their new homes.  The best scenario is for the puppies to have been raised some in the household and that a reasonable amount of time was spent with the litter each and every day.
15) Ask the breeder how long they have been perfecting their breed's line. If the breeder continually switches from one popular breed to the next, they might be someone who is trying to make a buck at the expense of the puppies. Take care that you aren’t dealing with a puppy mill or a for-profit breeder. You want a breeder that cares both about their dogs and the breed itself.

Our hope is that you will do your research before getting your heart set on a puppy.  We ask everyone that places a deposit on Litter Picks to review their experience with the breeder and their new pet.  First hand experience is a great way to help promote responsible breeding practices and discourage for-profit puppy mills.