Reputable Cocker Spaniel breeders expect to be asked lots of questions about themselves and their dogs by potential new puppy owners before agreeing to part with one of their precious puppies - and quite right too! But do you know what kind of questions should you be asking?
If you're not sure what kind of questions you should be asking, don't worry.
Here, you'll find all the right questions to ask to help you to sift out the puppy farmers and bad breeders.
List your questions in advance, not only will this help you to sound knowledgeable about Cocker Spaniels, you'll no doubt reassure the breeder that you can offer a loving, caring home to one of their valuable puppies.
And that is very important - breeders won't give their puppies to just anyone!
Let's assume you have your short-list of American or English Cocker Spaniel breeders, or you've seen an advert for puppies that you'd like to answer.
Before you pick up the telephone and make contact, read the advice that follows, making a list of the relevant points that you'd like to cover early on in the conversation.
You can ask further, more detailed questions as they become relevant.
Use your own judgement about what questions to ask, and at what stages, as your relationship with the breeder develops.
Bear in mind Cocker breeders who truly care about their dogs won't breed from them too often, but when
they do, they'll probably have prospective buyers on a waiting list so
you may need to be patient, in fact, you should be prepared to wait.
Ask if they have any puppies available now. If they don't, ask if they're expecting or planning a litter soon.
Ask if there's a waiting list and if there is check how many names are on it.
If there aren't puppies available, or their waiting list is too long, ask if they can recommend other alternative Cocker Spaniel breeders.
you've decided you want a golden bitch puppy for example, and you are
definite about your choice, ask at the outset if they have one
available - this way, you won't be wasting your time or theirs - it's only polite.
To find out how much the breeders know about Cocker Spaniels, ask how many years' experience they have.
Ideally, they should have at least a couple of years' experience under their belt.
The above are important questions to ask because the answers will help you to understand how experienced they really are.
Find out if the puppies are raised in kennels, or in the family home.
It's preferable for puppies to be raised in the home as contact with people, particularly children, helps greatly with socializing the puppies.
Where there isn't enough space for puppies to be reared inside the home, it's acceptable to have the whelping box in a heated outhouse or shed close to the family home where they can be checked on regularly.
Having a whelping box separate from the house may have the added advantage of allowing the dam somewhere private to give birth and to look after her puppies in relative peace and quiet.
The breeder will probably bring the puppies into the house regularly, and they'll be given lots of gentle handling and cuddles to make sure
they're not under-socialized.
When you first make contact with the Cocker Spaniel breeder, it's important you ask whether or not you'll be able to see the puppies' parents. It's unusual for both parents (sire and dam) to be available for you to meet as the sire is usually owned by another family or kennel, unless of course the breeder owns both dogs.
Even so, they should be able to give you a photograph and some background information on the sire, for example, health, testing, height, weight, awards won, etc.
Be very suspicious if there is little or no information on the sire, or if the 'Mom' isn't available for viewing; it could be that the puppies are being sold on behalf of an unscrupulous breeder, or a puppy farmer.
Check with the breeder that it will be possible to see the rest of the litter and ask the following questions:
Choose Cocker Spaniel breeders who know the history of the sire and the dam, and can explain their pedigree.
Reputable breeders shouldn't be afraid or reluctant to discuss and offer information, not only on the good points of their Cocker Spaniel puppies, but on problems associated with the breed.
Learn more about Cocker Spaniel health problems.
Do they provide a contract?
This is one of the most important questions to ask (if they're a professional Cocker Spaniel breeder
they should provide one) and it's important for you to find out exactly what's included.
Professional breeders should be willing to provide you with a copy contract.
I recommend you ask what guarantees, if any, they offer under the contract. Some guarantee a replacement puppy, should there be any problems with congenital health or temperament. You may also be offered a full refund as an alternative.
Some breeders have a system for reserving puppies, and ask for a non-refundable deposit so ask the breeder what their reservation policy is.
The puppies should already have pet health insurance, arranged and paid for by the breeder, before they leave to go to a new home, but I recommend you check this for yourself. This cover usually lasts for 6 weeks.
Don't get caught out by the small print!
Ask what training the puppies will have had by the time they're ready to collect, and check whether they will be fully or partly house-trained.
Ask what they have done (or are doing) to socialize their Cocker Spaniel puppies to allow you to continue where they left off.
Pups should be handled gently, as early as possible and meet as many humans as possible - postman in uniform, children, delivery man with beard, old people.
The puppies should also experience many different everyday household objects, such as umbrellas, washing machines, vacuums, brooms, washing blowing on the line, balloons, sirens, etc. The list is almost endless!
Socializing a puppy should become a very important part of his routine. A puppy who hasn't been properly socialized may develop behavioral problems in adult life.
Ask how old the puppy will be when you can take it home.
are usually weaned from the mother by the time they've reached 5 or 6
weeks of age, but at this age they're still too young to leave the
mother and litter mates. Puppies aged between 7-8 weeks are just about
ready to leave for their new home.
If you don't already know the price, ask.
Don't insult Cocker Spaniel
breeders by trying to negotiate the asking price for their puppies.
You could ask the breeder how they differentiate between pet and show quality puppies, and ask if their charges differ between the two.
Do they seem easy to talk to; does he or she make you feel comfortable? Many breeders like to know how their puppies are getting on, and often stay in touch with their buyers. Do you feel that you could form a long-lasting relationship with the breeder?
At some point you'll need their full contact details. It
may be better to leave this question until towards the end of the
conversation, when you'll have a better idea of whether or not this is
the right breeder for you.
I hope this page has given you enough information to help you feel more about contacting your selection of Cocker Spaniel breeders.
When all your questions have been answered, all that
will be left to do will be to make arrangements to meet the breeder, view the
puppies, and then pick your Cocker Spaniel puppy, however, don't leave choosing your puppy for too long as good puppies sell quickly.