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Questions you should ask a puppy breeder

When buying a puppy it is important to ask as many questions as possible to ensure that you are not helping fund the illegal puppy trade and that you are purchasing a happy and healthy pup.

Here are some suggested 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!

2. How old are the puppies?

They must be at least eight weeks old to leave their mother.

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. How old is mum?

She should be over a year old, but not obviously very old.

5. How many litters has mum had?

It is against the law for a local authority licenced breeder to breed a bitch more than six times in her life time, however the Kennel Club Assured Breeder scheme limits their members to four  litters.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Does the puppy look healthy – clean eyes, ears and bottom?

If the puppy is unwell do not take him, and try another breeder.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. Can I return the puppy if there are any health problems?

A Kennel Club Assured Breeder will offer to take the puppy back at any point should you be unable to keep him. Other breeders may also offer this option.

12. Is the puppy Kennel Club registered?

If so, make sure you are given their Registration Information Document (which allows you to change the ownership of the puppy from the breeder to you) when you pick up your puppy. You can also request a pedigree certificate (a unique record that details your dog’s family tree). You should also get some free health insurance for the first few weeks.

13. When can I take the puppy home?

It is absolutely essential to see the puppies with their mother and siblings. Some unscrupulous people claiming to be breeders might in fact be dealers who have bought the pups in. They are likely to be poorly bred, might be ill and are usually too young to leave their exhausted, ill-treated mothers. If they survive, these puppies rarely make good pets, and you will be fuelling this cruel trade where money is the priority and the welfare of the dog is ignored.

14. Is the puppy microchipped?

It is a legal requirement for all breeders of puppies to microchip and register their own details prior to sale. It is against the law for a breeder to not microchip the puppy. The microchip MUST be registered to the breeder and is considered an offence if they offer to chip and register directly into your name. It will be YOUR responsibility to update the registered microchip details to ensure that the puppy is registered to you when you take it home and to ensure the details are kept up to date should you move house. In some very rare circumstances puppies may be unable to be microchipped due to health reasons. If this is the case you should request a copy of the Veterinary Health Exemption Certificate.

Things to consider when buying a puppy

  • Never buy from a pet shop.
  • Avoid anywhere advertising more than three different breeds.
  • If someone claims the puppy has been imported, ask from where and when, get a vet to verify the age of the pup as there are legal minimum ages before a pup can be vaccinated in other countries before being imported.
  • Do not buy a puppy if you have any doubts about the breeder or situation – even if you want to rescue it. Walk away, report your concerns, stop the trade.
  • Do your research – if you are looking to buy a breed of dog that has known health conditions in later life e.g. hip dysplasia, you should ask for information about the health of the puppies parents. You can also enquire if the puppy has been screened for any potentially inherited diseases.