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Finding a good puppy breeder: things to consider when buying a dog

So you’ve decided to welcome a new puppy to your home – how exciting! If you’ve decided to provide a home for a new puppy rather than rehoming an older dog, it’s vital that you buy from a reputable breeder.

The importance of choosing the right puppy breeder

We prefer to think the best of people but there’s no denying it – there are some unscrupulous people out there whose only interest is profit, not the health and wellbeing of your new canine companion.

The best way to ensure you choose a healthy, happy pup is to do your research and to only do business with a responsible dog breeder.

Here are some top tips to help you choose a responsible puppy breeder and to get your new pet off to the best possible start.

Did you know? 

The UK demand for puppies is around 800,000 a year. The UK GOV estimates that only 560,000 puppies are born each year in the UK, which leaves a further 240,000 who could be coming from anywhere.

How to spot a responsible breeder

  • As a private seller, they'll be happy for you to come to their house multiple times to visit the pups. Ideally, you should see the pups at 3-4 weeks old and take home at no earlier than 8-9 weeks
  • They'll happily show you the mother of the pups, and the father if possible. This is really important as it gives you a chance to check the temperament and health of the mother. It's ideal if you can see the pups feeding from their mother too
  • All good dog breeders will take the time to send regular updates and will happily answer your questions – over email, on the phone and later in the process, in person. They’ll be keen to make sure you’re a good match for the puppy too
  • They’ll be happy to arrange a time to visit that suits your schedule, and will ensure you get to see the puppies in the place where they were born and bred, giving you a chance to see how the mother interacts with the pups and how the pups are with each other
  • A good dog breeder will be happy to use the RSPCA’s puppy contract and show you their breeding license if they’re breeding and selling dogs as a business
  • Good breeders always provide genuine puppy vaccination certificates, paperwork for microchipping (legally, the puppy must be microchipped by the breeder before they are eight weeks old) and written details of any pest control treatments such as worming and fleas
  • They will not suggest or accept an offer of conducting a sale in a carpark, layby or other unsuitable location

“Never rush to choose a new puppy, and never, ever buy a dog on the first visit – however tempted you might be.”

Puppy breeder warning signs

  • They appear rushed and dismissive any time you try to ask questions about the puppies they’re advertising
  • They rush you into parting with your cash for a speedy sale, and offer to hand over the puppy at a random meeting point
  • They make excuses for the mother not being there when you visit. If mum isn’t there, the puppy wasn’t bred there. Sometimes you may be shown a dog and told she is the mother but she isn’t in reality

Important note: Kennel Club registration is no guarantee that you’ve found a responsible breeder, no matter what the breeder tells you

Never rush to choose a new puppy, and never, ever buy a dog on the first visit – however tempted you might be. Most good breeders have a waiting list for puppies, and a healthy, happy dog is worth waiting for. No good breeder will let a puppy go before they’re at least 8 weeks old, and many prefer to wait until 12 weeks.

How to choose the perfect pup

Always look for a puppy or dog who has the following characteristics. Our article on choosing a dog contains more top tips and helpful hints to help you pick the right pup.

  • Bright eyes and a lively, curious manner
  • Healthy, alert and active
  • A clean coat and a firm body
  • No sticky eyes or runny nose, sneezing, or matted fur
  • Moving around in a normal manner

If in doubt, always trust your instincts – if you think something is wrong or suspicious, it probably is.

If you have any doubts about the credibility of the breeder, contact your local council, Trading Standards Office or RSPCA.

Want advice on choosing a puppy breeder?

Your local vet may be able to help you find a reputable dog or puppy breeder, and will answer any questions you may have about welcoming a new puppy to your home.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.

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