Buying a Puppy

If you are looking for your very first puppy this is an exciting and challenging time. You may have already decided on the breed you would like and, if so, you must find out everything you can about that breed: how much exercise it will need when fully grown, how much grooming, whether it is a vocal (noisy) breed, whether it is suited to the accommodation you live in, whether it is happiest in city or country, working or being a companion to you and your family. Try to get to meet the type of dog you are interested in, if you have not done so already - there are big events such as Discover Dogs and Crufts where many different breeds can be seen and their requirements discussed with their owners as well as shows and Breed Club events throughout the year in all areas of the country where you can have the opportunity to see your preferred breed and speak to their owners. The Kennel Club also has short descriptions of the characteristics and requirements of each breed on its website. However much you love the look of a particular breed, you must understand the needs of the dog you are thinking of introducing into your family and which will hopefully live out a long and happy life with you. A dog should never be thought of as an item or accessory which can be easily disposed of if it no longer suits you or your lifestyle.

Once you are certain that a particular breed is right for you, you can begin to look for a breeder. Always look for a breeder not a puppy or you will be tempted to go down the route of answering ads in newspapers or shop windows and surfing internet sites such as Gumtree or pets4homes. These are invariably the places where puppy farmers, backyard breeders and those trying to sell imported puppies illegally will place their advertisements. If you look for a breeder first and do all you can to check them out - even before they have a litter of puppies if need be - you will be in a much better position to know whether this is the kind of person/place you would wish to get a puppy from. Buying from an unknown source over the internet can lead to you supporting poor welfare practices without realising it. Find out if the breeder you are interested in is a member of one of the breed clubs for that breed, are they on the Kennel Club lists or Champdogs and, if they have a brief biography on the latter, do they talk about the health testing they do, how often are they breeding and how many different breeds do they have? The answers to many of these questions can give you an initial impression of whether they may be the breeder for you. Make contact with them by email or phone and ask any questions you know are priorities for you and, when the time comes that a litter is born and you have an option to purchase one of the pups, do make sure you visit to see the pups and their mother before you part with any money or commit to a purchase in writing.

The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme is an effort by the Kennel Club to offer the puppy buying public a means of choosing breeders who have committed from the outset to a high standard of welfare in their breeding practice. There is a link to the full requirements here

A list of Assured Breeders throughout the country can be found on the Kennel Club website and you can also check there that anyone claiming to be a member of the scheme is actually so. At the same time do always check for yourself that any breeder you visit, whether or not on that Scheme, does give you the reassurance you need that they breed responsibly and carefully, raising puppies in the home and socialising them as much as possible prior to sale. Once you have found your breeder or breeders, you can approach them with your enquiry as to when they might have a litter of puppies due and whether it would be possible to be considered for one from that litter. Be prepared to wait for your puppy and be prepared to travel for the right one. In the long run finding a good breeder and buying a well-socialised, healthy puppy will more than compensate for a long journey and/or waiting a little longer.

If this is your very first puppy you must expect that the breeder will quiz you in detail about yourselves, your lifestyle, knowledge of the breed etc. You will also find that it will more than likely be the breeder and not yourselves who may choose the puppy for you. A breeder who has watched those pups from their first breath of life as they develop into lively young individuals will have a better idea of which one will suit which buyer. You may be given a choice but do not be disappointed if you do not. The puppy you take home will become the best dog in the world to you and the love and care you give it will be amply repaid over the years as it grows.

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Copyright J Atkinson & L Clarke