Most breeders are honest people, but it’s always better to have health claims in writing.
Cerf Certificate: Even if the breeder says she has current CERF (Canine Eye Research Foundation) certificates for both parents’ eyes, ask to have copies included in your puppy’s documents. If she does not provide copies of parents’ current (within one year) eye certifications, you can go to www.cerf.org, enter the parents’ AKC registration numbers, and see if they have been tested and passed with clear eyes.
OFFA Certificates: The breeder should give you copies of both parents’ OFFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certificates for hips and elbows. Make sure you have these certificates. If you have any question about the authenticity of the documents you are given, go to www.offa.org, enter the dam’s AKC registration number, and the OFFA results will appear. If they do not appear, it may mean the dam did not pass OFFA hip and elbow tests or that she was not x-rayed. Ditto for the sire. You should have copies of OFFA certified hips and elbows for both parents.
AKC Registration: The breeder should register the litter of puppies and supply you with an individual puppy form on which you can choose a name and register the puppy to you. Even if you do not intend to breed your puppy, you may still wish to register the puppy with the AKC, so that you can enter AKC-sponsored training and competitions, such as obedience and agility.
Feeding and Care Information: The breeder should inform you about the care and feeding she has provided for the puppy’s first 8 weeks. Responsible breeders will not place puppies earlier than 8 weeks. Evaluate the adequacy of the breeder’s care and diet. Early weeks are crucial times for puppies to be fed a high-protein, high-fat, low carbohydrate diet. Kibble is not good food for puppies – it’s heavy on carbohydrates and begins the cycle of periodontal disease so many dogs suffer. Did the breeder socialize the puppies well? Are they calm, relaxed, happy little guys? Are their coats shiny and healthy? What does the breeder say about care and socialization? Does she provide written materials to help you? You should expect to receive both an account of her practices and advice on how to continue to raise a healthy, happy puppy.