Buying a puppy is a wonderful and exciting time, and while it’s easy to get swept up in the cuteness of a little pup, it’s also important to make an informed decision.
Are you ready?
There’s a reason they call them a man’s best friend because dogs bring so much happiness and owning a dog is beyond rewarding. But like many great things, it’s also very demanding. In the same way that a child does, puppies need time poured into them and training to ensure they turn out well-balanced. They’re going to damage things in the house and cry in the night, so it’s important to ask yourself if you’re truly ready for the disruption a puppy might cause to your life.
Are you practically prepared?
- Can you afford it? There’s the food, equipment, vet bills and possible replacing of items the puppy has damaged.
- If you’re working, can you arrange a professional dog walker or doggy daycare since socialisation is crucial for a puppy?
- Is your home suitable? Do you have enough space, a garden, other friendly pets?
- Do you have the time in the morning, evenings and weekends to take the puppy out and spend time with it?
- Your puppy will be very anxious to begin with so it’s important to check that you’ll be around to comfort and reassure it? Leaving it for long periods of time will only add to the anxiety.
- If you don’t have a garden, can you ensure enough space and fresh air for the puppy?
- Can you commit to it long-term?
If the answer is no, then don’t worry it might just be a matter of timing or maybe an older dog would be better suited.
Where To Buy
If you’re still good to go and you’re ready to take on the responsibility, then the next question is where to buy.
Lucy’s law was brought in on the 20th of April 2020 and bans any commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens. This means that you cannot buy from a high street shop, or puppy supermarket, as many of these may be supporting a ‘puppy farm’ where the welfare of mothers and pups may be secondary to large litters and large profits.
You should look for private breeders that are accredited kennel club members and you can actually find registered breeders near you through the kennel club website.
If you’re not looking for a pedigree then it’s well worth considering looking for a pup with many of the larger charities, including The RSPCA and The Blue Cross as they 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.
The breeder should be incredibly transparent and happy to show you documentation of the puppies vaccinations, veterinary checks and worming. They should also give information regarding the socialisation and training of the puppy and should 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.
Checking the puppy
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 and the purchase should be after, or conditional on, a satisfactory veterinary examination.
A few health checks you can make yourself:
- Clear breathing – no difficulty
- The nose should be cold and slightly wet, with wide-open nostrils.
- Clean coat – not dirty and smelly
- Active, friendly, doesn’t shy away from you
- Healthy weight – no ribs showing
- Teeth should be clean and white with a good alignment of the jaw. Gums should be pink and not smelly.
- Never be tempted to take a puppy with runny eyes, a runny nose or a cough.
- 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.
About the mother
“She is really tired, so she is sleeping”
“We don’t want her to be overwhelmed”
“Ah, we are trying to keep her away from the pups”
All warning signs that something’s wrong. You should always be able to see the puppies mother, and even better if it is both parents.
This will give you an idea of their possible temperament when they’re older, and if the mother is healthy, it is a good sign that the puppies have got enough milk. Breeders should have also provided their dogs with a dedicated breeding area, and they should be raised in a social environment, so if your pups or mum are shut away, something isn’t right.
With all this in mind, you can enjoy the fun and exciting part of looking for a new puppy in the knowledge that the ones you’re looking at are safe and well and that you’re making a well-informed decision. And remember to always use the RSPCA puppy contract which the breeder should be happy to comply to.
As a final note, we understand how tempting it is to take a puppy you might be worried about, but it would be far more beneficial to report it to the RSPCA if you are concerned about the welfare of a puppy. Buying the puppy only encourages the breeder to continue in their bad practice when they need to be stopped.