Buying a puppy from a breeder can be hit and miss if you don’t know what to look for, or what questions to ask when buying a puppy.
You could end up with a sick or dying puppy that - even if he survived - might be plagued with lifelong health and behavioural problems.
Home or Commercial Breeder
Both have pros and cons.
Commercial Breeders - From a personal point of view, we struggle to support large commercial breeders.
Many hide behind ‘smoke and mirrors’ – fantastic websites, great marketing and branding but the actual ethics of commercial breeding leave us feeling a little bit cold.
Be aware if you are buying from a large commercial breeder they can have up to 35 bitches registered, producing litters every 9-18 months. You do the maths!
Home Breeders – where puppies are brought up in a home environment. Often bred from a much loved family pet.
However, please be aware that many home breeders will hide behind this façade and are inexperienced in breeding, don’t have health tested parents, don’t know how to care for the puppies they have.
Good breeders will not let a puppy go until he is at least eight weeks old. Some prefer to wait until 12 weeks and you should respect their decision. 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 and ask for ‘pupdates’ as your puppy grows.
OK, so now I’ve narrowed down my search, what do I need to look out for? (**print this list out and take it with you! Good breeders will welcome questions)
Can I see the puppies with their mum? (answer should be YES!)
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! Carrying mum in to see you is not the same as seeing her with her puppies!
How old are the puppies?
They must be at least 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 not obviously very old.
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.
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.
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.
Does the puppy look healthy – clean eyes, ears and bottom?
Go with your GUT INSTINCT! If the puppy is unwell, collect him another day. If he’s still ill then, do not take him and try another breeder.
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 health 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 Microchipped
It is a legal requirement for all breeders of puppies to microchip and register puppies prior to sale. It is against the law for a breeder to not microchip the puppy.
Other tips to consider when buying a puppy:
- Take a friend with you – someone with a level head to see beyond the cute puppy and assess the situation. With the best intentions – when faced with a bundle of fluff it can be HARD to think with your head and not your heart. We also recommend not taking children on the first visit for this very reason!
- Never buy from a pet shop
- 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
- If your breeder is not happy to answer every question you have thoroughly, be suspicious. A good breeder should be judging you are a potential owner, just as much as you are judging them!
What should I do if I have doubts about a breeder?
Contact your local authority or Trading Standards Office and make a report. If there are signs of obvious neglect or cruelty, contact the RSPCA as soon as possible.