Before You Buy A Puppy

All new puppies are experiencing the most traumatic time of their young lives when they are taken from their mother and the comfort of their litter to be placed into your care.

It is a big responsibility!

Responsible owners will want to do the “right thing”, and this starts before you even choose your puppy.

You should always see the puppy with its mother, and in the care of a responsible breeder. Always see the puppy where it was bred – never allow someone to bring it to you.

A puppy should never be bought from a high street shop, or puppy supermarket, as the puppy origins and breeding policy are difficult to establish. You may be unwittingly supporting a ‘puppy farm’ where the welfare of mothers and pups may be secondary to large litters and large profits.

Health Checks

You may decide you want a pedigree puppy which does cost a lot more, but which should be bred to a specified breed standard – so you have a better idea of what you will get, or you may prefer a mixed breed pup which can be lots of fun, and generally do not carry the high price of a pedigree.

If you do prefer a mixed breed pup, then it really is essential that you see the home and environment of the mother, and see the puppy with its mother, to give you a good idea of the breeding and care conditions. Remember that the mother’s temperament contributes to that of the puppies. A fearful or aggressive mother may pass on this trait to a puppy.

There is little better than seeking out past satisfied customers who can give you details of their experiences, and you can see how their dog turned out.

A puppy raised in a happy home will also have the advantage of being socialised with humans – a very important consideration, especially where children are concerned.

A pedigree puppy should be bought from a responsible breeder.

So, how do you find a breeder?

This can be done by using the links on this site, by word of mouth; by “Googling” for the appropriate breed club; by visiting the ‘Discover Dogs’ exhibition which is held at the ExCel in London each autumn (usually October); or by use of the Kennel Club Accredited Breeders scheme.

Accredited breeders sign up to follow recommended breeding guidelines which all responsible breeders should follow (KC registered or not.)

They make use of health screening schemes, such as testing for hip problems and eye conditions, which will help owners to predict the future health of their puppy.

They will ensure the puppy is seen with its mother, to give an indication of how the puppy is likely to turn out.

Any responsible dog breeder should be prepared to answer your questions about the breed. They will also give new owners written information regarding the socialisation and training of the puppy and will be there as a point of contact throughout the puppy’s life to ensure that the dog and owner have a happy and fulfilling relationship.

If a breeder doesn’t follow these guidelines and if the puppies do not appear happy and are not kept in good conditions, then look elsewhere.

Finally, it’s well worth considering getting a puppy (or adult dog) from one of the charities, even if you are looking for a pedigree.

Many of the animals available from most of the larger charities, including The RSPCA and The Blue Cross, will have been examined by a vet, undergone behavioural assessment, been vaccinated, neutered, treated for parasites and microchipped before they are even made available for adoption.

Profiles are drawn up to match potential new owners and dogs to avoid personality clashes, and support is available if problems occur after rehoming.

When you decide on your puppy, there are simple checks you can make before you buy.

  • Check the puppy’s age and immunisation record. Puppies must be at least eight weeks old and should have received their first vaccinations before they leave their mother.
  • Has the puppy’s health been approved by a vet? The vet’s name and address should be shown on all certificates. Purchase should be after, or conditional on, a satisfactory veterinary examination.
  • Health checks you can make yourself:
    • Avoid skinny dogs or puppies. Also avoid puppies with potbellies, as they are quite likely to have intestinal worms.
    • Never be tempted to take a puppy with runny eyes, a runny nose or a cough. Teeth should be clean and white. Gums should be pink and not smelly.
    • Make sure the puppy’s bottom is clean without any signs of diarrhoea or soreness.
    • Check for fleas and other parasites. Many puppies have them but they can be treated. Brown or yellow deposits in the ears are one sign of ear mites.
  • Check the puppy’s dietary requirements. Make sure you are given a diet sheet showing how the puppy has been fed so far – moving home is enough of an upset for a young puppy without adding to it by the stress of eating unfamiliar food.

Concerned about the welfare of a puppy? Never buy a puppy just because you feel sorry for it. If you are concerned about the health or welfare of a puppy, please contact the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty and advice line: 0300 1234 999. Calls are treated in the strictest confidence.

Some information shown on this page is based upon advice given by the Kennel Club and the RSPCA. If you need information in more depth than above, then we encourage you to visit their sites direct.

All information on this site is given in good faith, but should never be taken as final authorative advice. In all cases of doubt or query you are strongly advised to check the position with an expert – and your vet is the person to see first.