Getting a puppy

Having a bouncy, happy, playful puppy is a very enjoyable experience. However it is also a big commitment, demanding in time, money and care. Remember, a puppy will grow into a dog and will be with you for many years to come.

Before getting a puppy (or getting a dog) you should think about your lifestyle and carefully consider what kind of dog you get, and where you get it from.

Puppy looking at the camera siting on a mat  

Where to get your puppy

Why buy a puppy from a breeder when there are thousands of lovely unwanted and abandoned dogs in need of homes at dog rescue centres all around the UK? Dogs Trust has many Rehoming Centres across the UK with thousands of dogs looking for new homes.

If you adopt a puppy from Dogs Trust, we are there to offer help and advice for the rest of your dog’s life should you need it. But if you still wish to buy a puppy from a breeder, ask your vet if they know of any reputable ones or check the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme.

What type of puppy should I choose?

  • It is essential for you to choose a breed which will best suit your circumstances.
  • Why not consider adopting a rescue dog or puppy? Please remember that many of the rescue organisations, such as Dogs Trust, often have stray or abandoned puppies in need of loving homes. For more information, see our Rehoming Centres.
  • Research the different breeds by reading books and gain as much information as possible before making your choice.
  • Think about your lifestyle, size of home, facilities for exercise and time available.
  • Speak to other dog owners for their advice and experiences.
  • Should you choose to adopt a pedigree, meet dogs of all ages and both sexes of that breed. This will give you an idea of what to expect.
  • Consider both the physical and mental needs of the breed you have chosen.

What makes a good dog breeder?

Dog breeding is a very specialised area. This is why it is so important for you to go to a reputable breeder when choosing a puppy. Good breeders will carefully choose a brood bitch or stud dog on the basis of quality relating to the breed standard, breed lines (ancestors and genetics) and compatibility.

A good dog breeder will:

  • Not breed from a bitch on two consecutive seasons.
  • Only allow their bitches to have three to four litters during the bitch's breeding life.
  • Ensure their dogs have a good quality of life such as a balanced diet/housing/exercise/socialisation/veterinary care when necessary.
  • Not sell any dog to a commercial wholesaler, pet shop, dealer or other retail outlet.
  • Not breed from a bitch under two years of age or over eight years of age.
  • Not breed from a dog or bitch that is likely to pass on any hereditary problems to future generations of puppies (research of your chosen breed may alert you to some of these hereditary disorders such as Hip Dysplasia).
  • Be knowledgeable about their breed and will always advise you on any queries you may have.
  • Offer to take the puppy back should your initial circumstances change.
  • Be keen to follow up their puppy's progress in its new home, want to know as much about you and what type of home their puppy is going to, as you will want to know about them.

Take home a happy, healthy puppy

If you choose to get a puppy from a breeder, here are our top 10 tips to ensure you take home a happy and healthy puppy: Close up of a puppy  

  • Make sure you see the puppy interacting with the rest of the litter and its mother. A puppy is not ready to leave its mother before it is 8 weeks old.
  • Ensure you see the puppy with the rest of the litter. The breeder should allow you to handle the puppies.
  • Visit the breeder at least twice before making the final collection. The breeder should allow you to handle the puppies each time you visit.
  • Check that the puppies have regular access to human contact – it is better that the puppies are being raised in a home environment, rather than a kennel, so that they become familiar with everyday sights, smells and sounds.
  • Check whether the facilities appear clean and the puppy seems alert and healthy.
  • There should be no discharge from its eyes or nose or any sores, bald patches or scabs on the skin. The puppy should be alert and show no obvious signs of illness such as coughing.
  • Find out whether the puppy has been wormed and vaccinated – some breeders will vaccinate puppies at 8 weeks of age before releasing them to their new owners.
  • If possible, request a written agreement that the purchase is subject to a satisfactory examination by your vet within 48 hours of purchase. Ask if the puppy will be covered by insurance for any illness during the first few weeks in your care – most good breeders subscribe to this scheme.
  • Check that the puppy’s parents have been tested for hereditary diseases. If no certificates are available go to another breeder. If you need help understanding the results, ask your vet.
  • Ensure all the relevant paperwork is available for inspection when you visit the puppy. This should include a vaccination certificate, a health check report from a vet and a Pedigree or Kennel Club certificate. Remember, a Pedigree or Kennel Club certificate does not guarantee a perfect puppy – it’s up to you to carry out the appropriate checks above. If your puppy appears unwell on collection, do not take it. Arrange with the breeder to return another day. If you have any doubts, choose another breeder.

Getting a puppy from a newspaper or internet advert

Newspapers/internet adverts, pet shops and pet superstores – just don’t go there!

Many dogs are bred for a quick profit by what is often referred to as a ‘puppy farm’. They are raised without care or love and sold to unsuitable households.

Many of these puppies are advertised through newspaper adverts or sold on the internet or at pet/puppy superstores and Dogs Trust strongly advises you do not buy.

Buying a pedigree puppy

If you decide to buy a pedigree, Dogs Trust recommends that you:

  •  Avoid buying from a pet shop/other retail outlet or through a newspaper advertisement offering a wide range of breeds. It is possible that these puppies may have come from puppy farms; they may have been bred indiscriminately, putting profit before the dogs' welfare.
  • When you have made your choice of breed, contact either your local rescue centre or the breed club secretary of the breed you have chosen. Breed Club details can be obtained through the Kennel Club.
  • Be prepared to put your name on a waiting list for a litter to be born. A WELL BRED PUPPY IS WORTH WAITING FOR. In the meantime, ask if you can visit the parents to give you an idea of what the dog will be like as an adult.
  • INSIST on seeing the mother interacting with the puppies and if possible, meet the father.
  • You should have easy access to the puppies and be able to handle them. Do not allow the breeder to show you just one puppy.
  • Make at least two visits to the breeder to view the puppies before the final collection.
  • If you are unsure about buying the right puppy, make enquiries with the local vet to see if he would be willing to attend the viewing to check the puppy for any visible health problems - this could save money and upset in the long term.
  • Request a written agreement that purchase is subject to a satisfactory examination by your veterinary surgeon within 48 hours of purchase.
  • Check that the puppies have regular access to human contact, ideally with more than one person. It is better if the puppies are being raised in a home environment rather than in a kennel, as this will help them get used to the everyday sights and sounds of the home.
  • Check that the facilities are clean and that the puppies appear alert and healthy.
  • Ensure all the relevant paperwork is available for inspection WHEN YOU VISIT THE PUPPY. This will include: the pedigree and registration papers, hereditary screening certificates of the parents (for example, hereditary eye disease or hip dysplasia if appropriate to the breed).
  • Check to see if the puppy has been regularly wormed and vaccinated. Some breeders will have the puppy vaccinated at eight weeks of age before releasing it to its new home.
  • Remember a Kennel Club registration/pedigree does not guarantee a perfect puppy. It is up to you to carry out the appropriate checks.
  • Ask if the puppy will be covered by insurance for any illness during the first six weeks in your care (most good breeders subscribe to this scheme).
  • Ask the breeder if they would be willing to take the puppy back, should your initial circumstances change (for example if you discover you are allergic to the dog). Get written confirmation of this.
  • Ask the breeder questions about the puppy's feeding regime. Good breeders will supply you with a diet plan.
  • Expect to have to pay a deposit on choosing your puppy.
  • Choose a puppy that is interested in you, not the one that cowers in the corner.
  • Check the puppy has no discharge from its eyes or nose and that there are no sores, bald patches or scabs on the skin.
  • Make sure that the puppy is alert and responsive to sounds and is showing no obvious signs of illness, such as coughing.
  • If a puppy appears unwell on collection, DO NOT take it - arrange with the breeder to return another day. If you have any doubts, choose another breeder.