What You Need To Ask Before Buying Your Toller

Below, we’ve compiled a list of questions you might want to consider asking a breeder when you’re making your contacts. Always remember: don’t be shy! A good breeder appreciates a well-informed puppy buyer.

Since you can expect to be asked questions by breeders you contact, we also recommend that you prepare a list of questions to ask breeders in return. Janice Madjanovich DVM, a Toller owner, wrote this information letter as a primer for anyone planning to contact breeders (courtesy of Ms. Madjanovich and the Ontario Toller Club).

Good Luck!

Do you show and/or work your dogs? If so, in which disciplines? Can I come and see you work your dogs at a show or trial - or go to see dogs you've bred (related to the upcoming litter) competing at a show or trial?

Ideally a Toller breeder actively works his or her own dogs. Seeing the sire or dam or even close relatives of your puppy-to-be may give you insight into the working abilities of your potential puppy. This is especially important if you plan to train and compete in such disciplines as field work, obedience, agility, tracking, flyball or conformation.

Are you a member of any Toller clubs? Any other dog clubs or organizations?

Conscientious breeders are active across the board in their particular breed – this helps them to keep up to date on health issues and other concerns, and keeps them in touch with their breed’s entire community. Many clubs have codes of ethics and conduct that breeders agree to abide by.

Can I come and visit your home/kennel?

Just be sure to make an appointment first – don’t just drop by unexpectedly.

What health problems are common in Tollers? Where can I find out more information on these health problems?

You can find more information on our “Tollers/Health” page

What health problems are in your lines and in the background of the proposed sire/dam of this litter?

Whole family information is very important for a breeder to know, and to base breeding decisions around. A breeder should make themselves aware of health issues in the dogs and should be willing to talk openly and honestly about those issues with you.

Can I receive copies of hip/eye/heart/thyroid/PRA Pattern status clearances on the proposed sire and dam of the litter?

You should ask to see copies of these clearances and you should expect to receive them.

Can I meet the sire and dam of the litter, or can you provide me with photos? How would you describe their temperaments? Have either been bred before? What can you tell me about their offspring?

Meeting the parents can give you insight into the potential appearance and personality of the pups from this breeding but frequently the sire of the litter will not live with the breeder of the litter. Seeing puppies from either sire or dam or both can give you insight into what type of puppies they have produced before, and are likely to produce again although this may not always be possible nor practical. Photos will at least give you an idea of what to expect physically. Although a verbal description of temperament can’t replace meeting the dogs, you may at least get a chance to ask some pointed questions and form an impression from the answers.

What titles do the sire/dam of this litter have?

While titles may provide proof of an individual dog’s working ability as well as proof of a trainer’s dedication and abilities, titled dogs in a pedigree may give a better indication of “family” working aptitude.

What do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of the sire and dam?

There is no perfect Toller out there. Every dog has his strong and weak points. A breeder is being dishonest if she says there is nothing she would like to see improved upon in a certain dog. Look for someone who answers your questions frankly and with common sense.

Why do you feel they make a good match?

Most breedings are not taken lightly; they are the result of months or even years of comparing pedigrees, checking health backgrounds, trying to cancel out the weaknesses and double up on the strengths of both sire and dam. Health, temperament, working ability, structure, and appearance are all taken into account when planning a breeding.

Can you provide me (and can I provide you) with references?

Most breeders should be happy to provide references if you are willing to do the same.

Will you be available to me for the lifetime of the dog?

A breeder who truly cares about their puppies and their buyers will answer this question with a “yes.”

Will you provide me with registration papers for my puppy?

Again, this answer must be a yes. The Canadian Kennel Club requires that breeders provide all puppy buyers with their puppy’s CKC registration papers within six months of purchase. It is against Federal law (The Animal Pedigree Act) to charge an extra fee for registration.

What kind of guarantees do you offer? Can I see a copy of your puppy buyer's contract?

Many responsible breeders offer limited health and temperament guarantees on the puppies they sell. Make sure you thoroughly understand each clause of any contract you sign.

Are your puppies raised inside your home? What kind of early socialization do your puppies receive? Will they receive exposure to children? To other dogs?

Puppies raised in a kennel may simply not be given the same socialization opportunities as those raised in the family home. Early socialization is of paramount importance for a healthy, sociable pet’s development. The more a puppy sees, hears, and touches in his earliest days, the more well-adjusted and easygoing he will be as an adult.

Can I choose my pup myself? If not, how will you choose which pup is best for me/my family?

Some breeders allow buyers to choose their own puppy, but most do the choosing themselves. The breeder has spent countless hours with each pup, and they agonize over which pup is best suited for each home. Trust your breeder on this one! The best family pet prospect may not be the same puppy who shows early potential as a hunting dog; they would be ill-suited to the wrong families.

Do you maintain a waiting list of potential puppy owners?

Most Toller breeders do have waiting lists for upcoming litters; just make sure you let the other breeders whose lists you are on know when you’ve found a puppy, so they can update their lists.

Do you take deposits for puppies? Are there any circumstances under which I may not get my deposit back if I decide not to take a puppy from you?

Some breeders take deposits on puppies; others do not. Some wait until a litter has been born before asking for deposits.

Can I come and visit the puppies before it's time for them to go to their new homes? How often can I come to visit them?

Many breeders have weekends when they open their doors to their buyers to come and play with the puppies; again, respect the breeder’s busy schedule and don’t arrive unannounced.

Do you provide your new puppy owners with any kind of literature, such as tips on crate training, housebreaking, feeding or training?

Above all else, educate yourself about the breed and see as many Tollers in person as you can by visiting breeders, dog shows, obedience, rally or agility trials, or even field tests. The internet is full of information on Tollers, and there are several books available as well. Arm yourself with knowledge first, and then begin your search in earnest. This breed is not for everyone, but by researching you’ll discover if a Toller is right for you. Remember, a breeder is someone you’ll have a relationship with for the 14-16 years of your Toller’s life. When you find a breeder you feel comfortable with, be prepared for a wait for the right puppy – it’ll be worth it.

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