Buying a puppy

You wouldn’t think it but buying a puppy is fraught with difficulties and if you are not extremely careful, it is easy to be duped by back-yard breeders and puppy farmers.

Here is our 10 point guide

  1. Decide if you can really have a dog in your life.  It sounds silly but many people buy one and then realise they don’t have time for them and the poor animal ends up neglected or in a rescue.  ALL dogs, regardless of their breed or size need at least an hours exercise a day and shouldn’t be left alone for more than 4 hours.  Take the PDSA Pet Wise quiz to see if a dog is a suitable pet for you.
  2. Chose your breed wisely.  Do research into the different breeds of dog and chose one which will fit in with your family.  Popular but working breeds like Springer Spaniels need lots of exercise and stimulation, larger dogs like Akitas and Rottweilers need significant amounts of training.  However, smaller dogs like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make excellent, friendly family pets and, surprisingly, Whippets and Grey Hounds are dogs which often don’t need much exercise at all!  Take The Kennel Club’s ‘Find a Breed’ quiz to see which might be right for you.
  3. Find a good, honest, reputable breeder. This can be the hardest step!  Have a look at our ‘Finding a Puppy’ page for advice on where to look.  However, it doesn’t matter if they are a professional or if the puppies were accidents, you must trust them and ensure they are breeding not simply for the money but also care about the health and welfare of the animals in their care.
  4. Research your breeder.  Once you have found a breeder, try to find out as much as possible about them.  Good breeders will be happy to allow you to speak to previous customers, they will let you visit them and their dogs at home and ensure you always have a mobile, landline and address for them.
  5. Visit the litter before they are ready to leave the bitch.  Pretty much the whole point of this website!  You should be able to view the puppies while they are young and before they leave the mother.  Puppy farmers and traders will move the dogs into another environment (often a family home) to hide where they have come from.  The puppies are taken from the bitch too soon so they don’t get too old before they are sold and usually bred somewhere really horrible.
  6. See the puppies with the bitch.  If you don’t find the litter soon enough to see them suckling, then you must insist on seeing the puppies with their mother and watch them interacting.  Many puppy traders will have a stooge dog they pretend is the mother but really this dog isn’t at all interested in the puppies.
  7. See the puppies in a family home.  All dogs expected to live within a family environment should be born and brought up in one to give them the best chance of settling in well.  Although it can see sensible to keep the litter in a shed, it is very isolating for them and can lead to behavioural problems as they grow up.
  8. Ask questions!  You should thoroughly quiz the breeder about their puppies.  You need to know about both parents, if they have been health tested, (find details about this here on the Kennel Club’s website) and what their temperament is like.  You want to know when and what with the bitch and the puppies have be wormed with and also if they have been flea treated.  You want to know what they eat, how they have been weaned and if they have been or will be vet health checked.  You also should ask about after-sales care, good breeders will accept puppies back if there are problems.
  9. Pedigree Certificate? Obviously not all dogs will have certificates but if the breeder offers you one it should be ready to go with the puppy when you collect it.  If they say ‘it’s in the post’, don’t ever expect to receive anything!  Also, unless it is an official Kennel Club certificate, there is no way to independently assure that what is written on it is true.
  10. Socialising.  The socialising a puppy does in the very early stages of life have a huge impact on their behaviour and development in later life.  At the very least they should stay with their mother until they are eight weeks old and have been exposed to several different people and, ideally, children as well.  The very best breeders will follow ‘The Puppy Contract’ created by the RSPCA, try to find one who does!

Finally, NEVER, EVER buy a puppy because you feel ‘sorry’ for it or want to ‘rescue’ it.  This will only land you with a sickly pet who will likely cost a lot in vets bills and you will be fuelling the trade and lining the pockets of puppy farmers, traders and backyard breeders.

If you are concerned WALK AWAY and report the breeder to the RSPCA, who will take your concerns seriously.