Dog ownership is a big deal in the UK, with statistics showing that around 25% of all UK households having a dog*. With that being said, it is very important to make some considerations when looking to add a dog to your family.
Many of us will look to rehome a dog as opposed to getting a puppy, however for those of you that want to purchase a puppy from a breeder, we have put together a few important things to check which will ensure you are buying a healthy dog from a reputable place.
We certainly do not want to scare you into not getting a puppy, however ensuring you are asking the right questions and spotting any red flags is really important to avoiding a potential disaster.
We have spoken to and had first hand experience of customers, friends etc who have jumped into buying a puppy which has ultimately ended up with serious health and behavioural issues.
The first thing you should always be mindful of is that a reputable breeder WILL NEVER let a puppy leave before they are at least eight weeks old. Some will even stretch that to twelve weeks. If the breeder is willing to let the puppy go before this time you should run a mile and also report them.
OK, so what should you ask when you are going to buy a puppy?
1 – As above, ‘How old are the puppies?’. They should be a minimum of eight weeks old.
2 – ‘Is the Mum still with the puppies and can you see her?’. You need to be able to see the temperament of the puppies Mum in order to gauge the genes the dog has inherited. This is very important. You must also be mindful of the fact that as just with humans, she may be defensive of her children however you should be able to tell if she is otherwise a nice dog.
3 – ‘How old is Mum?’. You should always ensure the Mum is over 1 year old but also not too old. Although we do not advice on an upper age for Mum, should you see her you will know if you think she is told old to have pups.
4 – ‘How many litters has Mum had?’. It is UK law that a bitch cannot breed more than six times in her lifetime. Breeders are required to have a licence. The likelihood is that if the dog has been bread more than 6 times then they wouldn’t tell you this however you should still ask the question to gauge the response.
5 – ‘Have the puppies been fully weaned?’. Weaning is critical for puppies and they should have completed this process by week 7. If they have not, this would be a good indication that they are actually younger than what you are being told.
6 – ‘Have the puppies had vaccinations?’. Puppies need to be vaccinated between six to nine weeks and again between ten to twelve weeks. After the second vaccination process, two weeks later they will be fully protected. It is very important to check when you need to have the second vaccinations done should the breeder not already.
7 – ‘Have the puppies been wormed?’ – You may not know this however all puppies have worms at birth. The worming process should start at around two weeks old and should be repeated every two weeks. This is a process which you will have to keep up.
8 – ‘What has the puppy been fed?’ – A serious, good breeder will give you food to continue feeding your puppy the same diet for a few days after you take them away. A diet sheet if provided will also show how the diet should change over time.
9 – ‘Does the puppy look healthy?’. You can usually get a good gauge of things just by looking at the puppy. Does it look healthy? Does it look well kept? Does it look happy and playful?
10 – ‘Is the puppy Kennel Club registered?’. This is very important. You should always get a certificate when you purchase the puppy along with a couple of weeks first health insurance.
11 – ‘Is the puppy microchipped?’. It is now law in the UK for all breeder to microchip and register their details before the puppy is sold. By very mindful that it is actually illegal for a breeder to microchip a puppy and register it in your name.
12 – ‘Can I return the puppy if it has health problems?’. As soon as you purchase your puppy you should have them checked over by a vet in order to identify any issues that they may have. A reputable breeder should always allow you to return the animal should there be a problem.
If you follow these steps you will be on your way to adding a beautiful healthy puppy to your family. Although buying a new pup can be extremely exciting, always just be mindful that it is very serious business which you should do as much homework as possible to ensure you are not left with issues in future.
*survey carried out by Statista 2018