Adopting a puppy from a breeder
Unless you inherit a puppy from someone else or rehome one from a shelter then you will be buying your bundle of joy from a breeder.
Questions to ask
Even before you set about arranging to visit a puppy, phone the breeder and ask some questions like:
• Did you breed the puppy?
You need to see the puppy with its mother where it was bred and to be able to discover the puppy’s history.
• How many puppies were there in the litter?
Arrange a viewing when there is more than one puppy to see so you can compare the one you eventually choose with the siblings. Make sure you ask this question again when you visit to see if you get the same answer about the size of the litter.
• Have any puppies had health problems? Has the mother had any health problems?
• Have the puppies been treated for worms & other parasites?
In general puppies should be wormed at two, five and eight weeks old.
• Have, or will, the puppies be given their first vaccinations before they leave for their new homes?
If not you will need to arrange for the vaccinations to be applied soon after the puppy arrives.
• Have the parents been screened for any inherited diseases known to be problems in that breed?
Many diseases that are inherited include cancers, diabetes, blindness, cataracts, heart disease, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and deafness, are very common in certain breeds. As well as being extremely painful they can even be life threatening. Vet treatment can be extremely expensive and some insurance companies may not cover particular breeds. It’s worth checking with the insurance company before you finally decide.
• Are the puppies microchipped?
Puppies need to be microchipped to help them be traced if they are ever lost or stolen. This can be arranged after you have got the puppy home but it’s the sign of a good breeder if it has already been done. It will be compulsory for all dogs over the age of 8 weeks in England to be microchipped from 6 April 2016.
When you visit the breeder
At the time you meet the puppies, the important things to check are that:
- You can meet both parents or at least the mother and her puppies. To be sure she is the mother – look for enlarged nipples or that she is still producing milk.
- The puppies’ mum is healthy. Ask lots of questions about the mother’s health and behaviour. Look out for exaggerated physical features in the parents, such as a very short flat faces or very wrinkled skin, both of which may affect the puppies’ health and welfare.
- You can see how the puppies’ mum behaves towards you. Does she greet you in a calm, friendly manner?
- There are clues the puppy was actually born where you are meeting him or her. Look for whelping pens, bedding and food bowls. If the puppies appear uncomfortable in their surroundings they may not have been bred there.
- The home of the breeder is not unlike your own. It’s advisable to adopt a puppy that comes from a similar place.
- The puppies respond well to you because nervous puppies will need time with an experienced owner to build their confidence. An anxious puppy is not a good choice for a first-time buyer.
- There are certificates confirming that the dogs have been screened for problem diseases,
- The vaccination and microchipping records are in order.
- There are no signs of illness. If you spot anything that you think doesn’t look quite right, ask a vet to check over the puppy before you commit to buying. The telltale signs include:
- Visible ribs
- Dull, dandruffy coat
- Sore patches of skin
- Eyes that are red or nose that is runny
- Coughing, breathing that is heavy and noisy
- Signs of diarrhoea around the tail/bottom
- Scratching or areas of hair loss
- Weakness, wobbliness or problems standing
- Tiring quickly
- Limping, difficulty walking or lifting legs
- Hunched or crouched body
- Straining when going to the toilet
To pick your puppy, we advise that you look for the happy interactive one in the litter. You need to spend plenty of time with the dog. Don’t feel rushed. This is a big responsibility you are taking on and will be for many years to come. Don’t buy on the first visit.
Bringing your new puppy home
When you’ve selected your puppy, you need to prepare everything at home. You should also find a vet and book your puppy in for an initial check up.
The emphasis now is on training your puppy to develop into a happy and much-loved companion. This is just the beginning of an exciting and rewarding adventure.