Interviewing a Breeder
Once you've found some breeders you're interested in, you can start the interview process. Here are some questions to get you started:
How long have you worked with pugs?
What breed clubs do you belong to?
Do you show your dogs?
What are the show records of the sire and dam?
What's the goal of your breeding program?
What health problems do you have in your lines?
What steps do you take to reduce the risk of health problems?
Can I see the health certifications for the puppy's parents and grandparents?
How often do you produce litters?
How old are the puppy's parents?
Do you guarantee the health of your puppies?
The answers will give you an idea of how committed the breeder is to pugs and their well-being. Breeders who exhibit their dogs are proud of what they've produced and are willing for their dogs to be judged by other pug experts. A breeder who admits to problems in the breed, or even in his own line, is simply being honest. No breed is free of hereditary problems, and anyone who makes that claim is not someone from whom you want to buy a pug.
Ask the breeder to go over the pedigree with you and tell you about the medical history of her pups' ancestors. Problems such as epilepsy and hypothyroidism usually don't show up until a dog is middle-aged or older, after it has already passed on its genes.
Besides telling you a pug's good points, a breeder should also emphasize the breed's negatives. These include health problems, year-round shedding, frequent flatulence, and loud snoring. Beware of a breeder who tells you only the good stuff.
Your interview with the breeder should give you a good idea of how committed she is to pugs and how long she has been in the breed. Don't be afraid that the breeder will think your questions are odd, rude, or intrusive. If she's a reputable breeder, she's more likely to be impressed that you've done your homework. Be wary of some-one who ignores your questions or is offended by them.
The Breeder's Concerns
An interview with a breeder is a two-way street. Expect to be thoroughly grilled by a caring breeder. He wants to make sure each puppy goes to a loving home where it will be loved and appreciated. Rather than taking the questions personally or being insulted if the breeder has concerns about some aspect of your lifestyle, such as your children's ages, remember that he is only concerned for the welfare of his pups. You'd ask lots of questions, too, if your children were going to a new home. Your brain should send up a red flag if the breeder doesn't have any interest in finding out about you and what kind of home you'd offer. Good breeders will require that the pug be returned to them if there's ever any reason you can't keep it — no matter how many years later it is.
Don't be suckered by a breeder's professional-looking Web site. A good Web designer and writer can make the worst puppy mill or backyard breeder seem legitimate. Look beyond the pretty pictures, and ask the tough questions that will help you distinguish good breeders from bad.
Questions to expect include whether someone will be home during the day, who will be responsible for the dog's care, whether everyone in the family wants a pug, whether you have a fenced yard, where you expect the pug to sleep, whether you plan to spay or neuter your pet, what your plans are for training the dog, whether anyone in the family has allergies, and what happened to previous pets — for instance, whether they died of old age or were hit by cars after only a couple of years.