What to consider before getting a dog?

There are many ways to acquire a new dog. Re-homing is the best one, but we recognise that sometimes people have their hearts set on a new puppy. However, it's very important to know what to look for when buying one, and the questions you need to ask when you meet the puppy, and the breeder.

What are the problems?

Buying a puppy can be hit and miss especially if you do not know what to look for, or what questions to ask. You may end up with a sick or even dying puppy that - even if it survived - might be plagued with health and behavioural problems.

Kennel Club registration alone is no guarantee that the breeder is responsible. If you are looking to buy a pedigree puppy, the best place to start is on the Kennel Club website for Kennel Club Assured Breeders of the breed you’re interested in. A good breeder will probably have a waiting list for puppies; a happy, healthy dog is worth waiting for.

Excellent breeders will not let a puppy go until he is at least eight weeks old. Some prefer to wait until 12 weeks. They should want to meet and interview you before the puppies are born or a few weeks later. This is a good opportunity for you as well, since you can see the conditions your pup is being raised in.

A few key questions to ask when buying a puppy: -

1. 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! Walk away!!!

2. How old are they?
They must be at least 8 weeks old to leave their mum. Ask to see paperwork to confirm their date of birth.

3. Are the puppies weaned?
At seven weeks they should be fully weaned. If they are not, they could be younger than the breeder claimed.

4. What should I feed my puppy?
A good breeder will give you enough food to continue the same diet for a few days. They should give you a diet sheet.

5. How old is mum?
She should be at least a year old, but not obviously very old. Responsible breeders will not breed from a dog unless they are at least 2 and no older than 6.

6. 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 a couple of weeks. Check with the Kennel Club to make sure the registration is authentic.

7. Does the puppy look healthy – clean ears, eyes and bottom?
If the puppy is unwell, collect him another day. If he’s still ill then, try another breeder. Walk away!!

8. 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 need to have a licence.

9. Have the puppies been wormed?
All puppies 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.

10. Have the puppies had any vaccinations? If so, when is the next dose due?
Puppies should be vaccinated at 6-9 weeks of age and then again at 10-12 weeks. They will become fully protected two weeks after the second vaccination. You will need to do this if the breeder has not.

11. Is it Micro-chipped?
It is a legal requirement for all breeders to micro-chip and register their own details prior to sale. It is against the law for a breeder to not micro-chip them. The micro-chip MUST be registered to the breeder and is considered an offence if they offer to chip and register directly into your name.

12. What sort of socialisations has my puppy had so far?
Puppies should 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.

13. Can I return the puppy if there are any health problems?
You should take your new puppy to a vet for a health check within 48 hours. A good breeder will always take a puppy back from you if things don’t work out. Often, they come with a lifetime guarantee.

14. When can I take the puppy home?
Initially puppies need to be with their mum. Some unscrupulous people claiming to be breeders might in fact be dealers who have bought the pups in. They are likely to be very poorly bred, might be ill and are usually too young to leave their exhausted, ill-treated mothers. If they do survive, these puppies rarely make good dogs, and you will be fuelling this cruel trade where money is the priority and welfare of the animals is ignored.

Things to consider when buying a puppy. Never buy from a pet shop and avoid anywhere advertising more than three different breeds and DO NOT buy a puppy if you have any doubts about the breeder or situation – even if you want to rescue it – walk away!!

Home from Home are an award-winning dog boarding agency covering London and the Home Counties. For further information on the services we can offer please call 01932 568 584 or email us on info@homefromhomedogboarding.com