Firstly, congratulations on wanting to buy a Border Collie puppy! Border Collies are wonderful dogs, with heaps of energy and intelligence to match. When you are trying to find a good breeder, it is important to prepare some questions to ask when buying a Border Collie puppy. These questions will help you to understand what you can expect from your breeder, the purchase of your Border Collie puppy, and root out the scam breeders that are out there.
But what questions should you be asking your Border Collie dog breeder to get the best idea of what you are getting into?
Well, let’s take a look, shall we? This article has been divided into ‘before the visit’ and ‘during the visit’. But if for some reason you are unable to visit in person, many questions are perfectly okay to be asked over the phone! In fact, my top recommendation is to make sure that you ask a number of questions to your Border Collie breeder over the phone to begin with. This not only helps with getting the answers to your questions, but it also helps to establish quite quickly whether the breeder is a nice person (something, I think, is hugely important when buying a Border Collie puppy).
Pssst. if you’re still undecided about whether you should buy a Border Collie, check out our article about some disadvantages to owning a Border Collie. Or, check out our article myth busting whether Border Collies are good for first time owners.
Questions to ask your Border Collie breeder before your visit
Before your visit to your Border Collie breeder, you will generally want to ask questions that are going to help you understand what to expect during the visit. These questions can also help prevent you from wasting your time.
Reputable Border Collie breeders should have no issue answering any of these questions, so if they get defensive or agitated then continue with caution.
When phoning your shortlist of breeders, don’t be put off if you have to leave an answerphone message, or have to make multiple calls to actually reach them. Don’t forget that many breeders have busy lives, and because their contact details are plastered all over the internet, they will get lots of spam calls. As a result, it’s not unusual for breeders to screen calls.
Now let’s get to the questions to ask when buying a Border Collie puppy.
Do you have any puppies that are still available, and what are your prices?
Yes, first things first, you’ll want to know whether there are any puppies in the litter that are still available to reserve. This may sound really obvious, but making sure to ask this question up-front, is super important to avoid wasting your time.
No word of a lie – I actually had a 15 minute conversation with a Border Collie breeder when searching for Mila, and only after that they then said that they’d be happy to put me on the waiting list for the following year… yeah, not ideal!
I’ve also had friends contact a breeder, only to be told that the price is different from the one they advertised on their webpage… Needless to say, they didn’t go any further with that particular breeder.
Will I be able to meet the parents?
When buying a Border Collie puppy, you always want to see at least one of the parents, but preferably both, so this is a key question to ask.
Some Border Collie breeders may use a stud, and often they will be happy to try and arrange a meeting or give you contact details of the stud’s owner. However, it may not always be possible.
But you should be able to see the mother at the very least. If the breeder will not let you see the mother at all then this is a red flag and you should probably head to the hills!
In the unfortunate event that the mother died, the breeder should be upfront about it, as well as explain exactly why or how the mother died. Was it an accident? Was it a medical issue? If so is it hereditary?
How old is the mother? And how many litters has she had?
It may seem strange, but it is an important question to ask your Border Collie breeder!
Border Collies should not be bred more than three or four times in their lifetime. This is to keep both mother and her puppies healthy and happy.
Overbreeding can pose a risk to both mother and puppies, as it is draining on mum, but can also lead to issues with the puppies. Most importantly, overbreeding means that the breeder probably isn’t too concerned about the health of their own dog, which may mean that they’re likely to cut corners when it comes to things like health-test screening.
As a result, it is important to know whether the breeder is considerate of these things before going to see the litter.
It is also important that the mother be at least older than twelve months. Breeding Border Collies too young can result in major issues for the mum during birth, as well as be dangerous to the puppies as she may not be developed enough for the birthing process. Again, breeding too young could indicate that the breeder isn’t prioritising their animal’s welfare – a red flag in my book!
Obviously accidents sometimes happen, and this litter may not have been planned. But the breeder should always be upfront about this and any possible risks associated with the puppies.
Have there been any health concerns so far?
This doesn’t necessarily have to be a life threatening issue, however, your breeder should give you full disclosure on any health issues that may have arisen. Even if it is only suspected and not confirmed!
This could be as minor as a bump or scrape – if your Border Collie breeder tells you these tiny details, then that’s a really promising sign that they’re open and honest.
Have you bred these puppies yourself?
This is possibly one of the most important questions to ask when buying a Border Collie.
Border Collies can have a variety of inherited health issues, such as hip dysplasia, epilepsy, blood disorders and more. A reputable breeder who has bred the puppies themselves should have had the parents screened for any possible health concerns before breeding.
However if they haven’t bred the puppies themselves, they cannot know what the parents health is truly like. And if they cannot inform you of any possible hereditary issues, you may end up paying more vet bills than you bargained for!
In addition, as you will have seen on the news multiple times, puppy farming is a thing! This is where either dog breeding happens on an almost industrial scale. The puppies from these operations are often then shipped into the UK, and sold by someone claiming to have bred the dogs themselves. Not pleasant.
What is the inbreeding coefficient?
This is a test which basically ensures the Border Collies being bred together do not share a common ancestor. In order to keep breeds pedigree, many family lines have crossed at points.
While there is some science behind this, the inbreeding coefficient is spoken about in percentage terms. The lower percentage, the less chance there is of genetic mutations caused by inbreeding.
It’s generally accepted that an inbreeding coefficient of less that 4-5% is considered ok for purebred dogs like Border Collies. To put that in context, 0% means that there is no shared ancestry, and 12.5% is the equivalent to two half-siblings mating. If you want to find out more about this then the UK Kennel Club has a helpful webpage about it.
A reputable breeder will have checked the inbreeding coefficient of the Border Collies they are putting together. This ensures that there is minimal common ancestry – most breeders should be able to provide proof of this on request.
If they don’t have proof then it is best to proceed with caution. And if they get defensive, it is time to run for the hills again!
Will the puppies be wormed and vaccinated before coming home?
Many breeders will have all this done before your new friend comes home with you, but it is always a good idea to check! As a result, it’s a basic, but key question to ask when buying a Border Collie puppy.
Your breeder should be able to tell you exactly what they have already received and what they still need, so you should be able to book in at the vets and have it all sorted without much fuss.
Can they offer any references from previous buyers?
Some breeders may be able to put you in contact with previous buyers so that you can talk to them about their experience. They may also have a Facebook group, or something similar. If they do point you towards a Facebook group, that’s normally a great sign as it shows they have little to hide and want to keep in contact with previous buyers.
Obviously getting a direct reference can be an invaluable opportunity! But do not worry too much if a breeder is unable to do this, as it will depend on whether their previous buyers are comfortable being contacted. Not everyone is going to enjoy being quizzed about their Border Collie by strangers!
Questions to ask your Border Collie Breeder During Your Visit
The next set of questions are great to ask while you are visiting the breeder, and can see the puppies up close and personal.
Can I see the health certificates?
Certificates of health are great as they show you exactly what health conditions your puppy may be susceptible to.
Common ones to look for in Border Collies are:
- Hip dysplasia, this is where the hip joint does not fit together correctly and causes mobility issues.
- Arthritis, this can be on it’s own, or a result of hip dysplasia.
- Collie Eye Anomaly, this is an anomaly on the eye and common in Collies.
- Multi-Drug Resistance, this is where typical dosages of drugs can affect your Border Collie differently than it would other dogs. Important to know when it comes to vet treatments!
While your breeder may not have everything to hand for all possible conditions, they should at least be able to show you a few official testing certificates that will, ideally, show minimal concerns for the above.
Will there be a contract of sale?
A contract for buying a Border Collie? Sounds a little odd right?
But it turns out that they can be great when it comes to protecting all parties, the breeder, the buyer and the puppy.
Many breeders will even have a standard template contract. But it is important to read up on what should be included within the contract so it is mutually beneficial.
So for example, there should be a section which has the details of the people and the puppy, explaining if they are Kennel Club registered, their number if they are, as well as physical details such as breed, gender and date of birth.
This section should also contain contact details of buyer and breeder.
There is also usually a section for the health of the puppy, any return policies, and any additional clauses (eg. the puppy cannot be used for breeding, or showing).
Many breeders also include a section where, if for any reason you should need to rehome your Border Collie, it should go back to them, or they should at least be informed and given the first option of purchase.
While this is all a little formal, having something where everything agreed is written down does help to provide you with a sense of security – particularly when you consider the amounts of money that are sometimes involved.
If you’re buying from a non-KC registered hobby breeder, then don’t worry if their contract doesn’t have everything above included. The important thing is that you get a bit of paper that clearly sets out your – and your breeder’s – responsibilities. The key takeaway here is: don’t place all your trust in a handshake agreement.
When was the Border Collie litter born? And when can I bring my puppy home?
It is important to know when your puppy was born, as Border Collie puppies should not really leave their mum before eight weeks old. This is an essential question to ask when buying a Border Collie puppy.
In some cases the breeder may even keep the puppy with their mum until ten weeks. Which is perfectly okay too! Whatever works best for you and your chosen breeder is perfectly okay, as long as anything younger than eight weeks is cleared by a vet first!
Can I see all the puppies together?
Unless your Border Collie puppy is the last one left of their litter, you should be able to see all of the puppies together and how they interact with each other.
You may wonder why this is a big deal, you are only buying one right?
Well, seeing all of the puppies together and how they interact with one another can be a great way to gauge their personalities, as well as how your puppy interacts with others. And while they may behave differently after they have been trained and grow up a little, it still gives you a good idea of where you will start from!
What socialisation experiences have they had so far?
If you ask this and your breeder says they have been well socialised, do not expect a perfectly behaved Border Collie from the offset! Socialisation while with your breeder will typically consist of family members, children, and fellow littermates.
For this question, an ideal answer should include all of the above, as well as the breeder telling you about how they get the puppies used to household noises (vacuum cleaners, washing machines etc.)
When are the next vaccinations due?
Most puppies receive their first vaccinations around the eight-week mark. As mentioned earlier, most breeders will ensure their Border Collies have their first set of vaccinations before going to their new home.
To arrange your Border Collie’s vaccinations you will want to contact your preferred vet and arrange an appointment with them.
The length of time between vaccinations will often depend on the brand of vaccine – some have longer second-dose periods than others.
What should I feed my Border Collie puppy?
Generally, people recommend that you should keep your Border Collie puppy on the same type of food they had while with the breeder. This can help reduce stress and upset tummies while your puppy is still adjusting.
Many breeders will offer a few days worth of their food with the puppy to help with the changeover. In our experience, even if you don’t think the food is a good fit for your lifestyle, it’s always best to buy the exact brand of food the breeder uses at least for the first few weeks.
The last thing you need in the first few weeks of puppy ownership is stress and worry because your new puppy is not eating.
If you’re wondering about whether you should feed your Collie raw food – check out our pros-and-cons of raw food for dogs.
Summary of Questions to Ask when buying a Border Collie Puppy
That is it! There are many more questions you could ask your chosen breeder, but these should give you a good basis to go from. The more questions you ask when buying a Border Collie puppy, the more informed your decision will be.
Remember – buying from a reputable breeder pays dividends later down the line. You’re much more likely to have a healthier Border Collie with a longer lifespan as a result.
Pedigree Border Collies are not cheap, and you want to make sure that you and the breeder are both on the same page.
And remember, if a breeder gets defensive or argumentative with you for asking these types of questions, you are probably better taking your business elsewhere! Good and reputable breeders will be more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Some even prefer buyers who ask a million questions, as it shows they care about the wellbeing of the Border Collie puppy they are buying!
So ask plenty, and enjoy life with your new Border Collie. They will change your life in the best of ways.