There are lots of ways to get a dog. We think rehoming is the best one, but we recognise that people sometimes want to buy a puppy from a breeder. However, it's really important to understand what to look for when you are buying a puppy, and the questions to ask when you meet the puppy, and the breeder for the first time.
Below are some important things to consider when getting your puppy, including questions to ask when buying a puppy and things to consider when buying a puppy.
- Download our factsheets (below) and take them with you when you go to meet your puppy for the first time
- Visit the Buying a Puppy website from the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding
Getting a Puppy PDF 526 KB
Getting a Dog PDF 507 KB
What are the potential problems?
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. If you have bought a puppy from a classified ad or website that has proved to be poorly or have behavioural problems, please report this to the Pet Advertising Advisory Group.
Kennel Club registration is no guarantee that the breeder is responsible. If you are looking to buy a pedigree puppy, have a look 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 the wait.
Good 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.
Questions to ask when buying a puppy:
- 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!
- 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?
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 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 the first few weeks.
- When can I take the puppy home?
It is absolutely essential to see the puppies with their mother. 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 welfare of the dog is ignored.
- 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
Things to consider when buying a puppy:
- 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.
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.