Buying a Puppy / Getting a Dog
When you have decided you would like to get a dog there are many different ways to start looking for a suitable new companion. There are obviously thousands of dogs in rescue centres across theUKand ideally you should first consider looking at taking on a rescue dog. Most dog breeds have their own dedicated Kennel Club approved breed rescues if you are looking for a particular breed (we have a directory of these rescues if you would like a contact number). You could also contact reliable rescue centres such as the Dogs Trust, Battersea and Wood Green Animal Shelter.
Many people prefer to buy a new puppy and if you choose to do this there is some very important information to consider before obtaining your new puppy.
What are the potential problems?
Buying a puppy can be hit and miss if you don’t know what to look for or which questions to ask. You could end up with a sick or dying puppy that – even if he survived – might be plagued with lifelong health and behavioural problems. Puppy farms and bulk imported puppies from abroad are an increasing problem in this country and you should take care and spend time researching your chosen dog.
Remember, if the puppy comes with Kennel Club registration it does not mean that the breeder is responsible. If you are looking for a pedigree or cross breed puppy, have a look on the Kennel Club website for a Kennel Club Assured Breeder of the breed you’re interested in. A good breeder will not always have a litter of puppies available and you may have to wait for your puppy. A healthy, well cared for puppy will be worth the wait.
Good breeders should want to meet and interview you before the puppies are born or a few weeks later and should insist on you visiting the litter at least once before you are allowed a puppy. This is a good opportunity for you as well, since you can see the conditions your pup is being raised in.
The following advice is compiled with help from the Dogs Trust website:
What to ask yourself and the breeder:
- Can I see the puppies with their mum?
Be sure mum is a nice, friendly dog because temperament can be inherited. She might be defensive of her puppies so take that into account. If you’re not allowed to see them together, it might be that they’re not really her puppies! DO NOT BUY THE PUPPY IF YOU CANNOT SEE IT WITH ITS MOTHER AND SIBLINGS.
- How old are the puppies?
They must be at least seven to eight weeks old to leave their mother.
- Are the puppies weaned?
At seven weeks they should be fully weaned. If they are not, they could be younger than the breeder claimed.
- How old is mum?
She should be over a year old but ideally under the age of six years.
- How many litters has mum had?
It is against the law to breed a bitch more than six times in her lifetime. If the breeder breeds frequently they are required to have a licence from the local authority.
- Have the puppies been wormed?
Puppies can have worms at birth. Worming should start with the breeder at about two weeks old, be repeated every two weeks and be continued by you.
- Have the puppies had any vaccinations? If so, when is the next dose due?
Puppies should be vaccinated at 9 weeks of age and then again at 12 weeks. They will become fully protected two weeks after the second vaccination. You will need to do this if the breeder has not.
- Does the puppy look healthy – clean eyes, ears and bottom?
Do not buy a puppy because you feel sorry for it and want to rescue it. You are only fueling the trade in selling poorly bred dogs. Please be brave and walk away.
- What should I feed my puppy? Do you have a diet sheet to take away?
A good breeder will give you enough food to continue exactly the same diet for a couple of days. They should also give you a diet sheet that shows how feeding should change as your puppy grows.
- What sort of socialisation or experiences has my puppy had so far?
Puppies should preferably be raised in a home environment with all the noise and through traffic of a normal home. Those raised in kennels away from the house will need more intensive socialisation training to ensure they can cope with daily life as a pet. If puppies have already met other dogs, domestic animals and people they will have more confidence than those that have not.
- Can I return the puppy if there are any healthy problems?
You should take your new puppy to a vet for a health check within 48 hours. A good breeder will offer to take the puppy back at any point should you be unable to keep him.
- Is the puppy Kennel Club registered?
If so, make sure you are given the registration certificate and pedigree when you pick up your puppy. You should also get some free health insurance for the first few weeks. If the paper work is not there then do not take the puppy.
- When can I take the puppy home?
It is absolutely essential to see the puppies with their mother. Some unscrupulous people claiming to be breeders might in fact be dealers who have bought the pups in. They are likely to be poorly bred, might be ill and are usually too young to leave their exhausted, ill-treated mothers. If they survive, these puppies rarely make good pets, and you will be fuelling this cruel trade where money is the priority and welfare of the dog is ignored.
- NEVER buy from a pet shop and avoid puppies advertised on non-breed specific websites.
- AWLAYS use Kennel Club Accredited Breeders
- AVOID anywhere advertising more than three different breeds
- DO NOT buy a puppy if you have any doubts about the breeder or situation – even if you want to rescue it.