The way in which puppies are bred has a direct impact on the rest of their lives. Irresponsible breeding can cause any number of health and behavioural issues.
Whether you’re a first time dog-buyer or not, finding a reputable breeder is absolutely essential.
In 2017 a reform of breeding legislation was initiated with the government planning to crack down on backstreet puppy breeders, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that there are many irresponsible dog breeders out there. In 2018 new licencing laws came into force to help protect dogs from irresponsible breeding, you can find out more information by visiting the Kennel Club.
That’s why we want you to know the important things to check for and to ask when embarking on the breeder selection process for your next puppy purchase.
Where to Start
Seeking advice from a vet or a local breed club are two good ways to locate dog breeders. The Kennel Club’s Breed Search offers a helpful list of breed clubs. Starting with a reliable source will limit your chances of being sent to an unreliable breeder.
However, for your own assurance and peace of mind, it’s always best to assess the situation yourself to determine exactly what you’re dealing with.
Questions to Ask
Whether it’s on an initial phone call or in person, here are some of the questions you should be asking a breeder:
- How old are the puppies? (If under 8 weeks, they should still be with their mother)
- Have the puppies or their mother had any health issues?
- How many puppies are in the litter?
- Have the puppies had any treatment or vaccinations yet?
- Can they recommend previous buyers for references?
Seeing the puppies alongside their mother is very important and will give a strong indication that the puppies have been raised and weaned properly; it’s vital that puppies aren’t too young when they’re separated from their mother. If you cannot see the puppies with their mother, this should raise serious concerns.
Regarding the health of the puppies, it’s handy to know that the Kennel Club lists breeds that are prone to certain issues and give tips on what to look out for, for example breathing concerns. Some breeds do have potential health concerns which responsible breeders will be testing for and it is important to know the right questions to ask.
Trustworthy breeders will be happy to discuss with you a puppy’s general welfare, and that of its mother. They’ll also be able to provide legitimate paperwork and certificates about vaccinations the puppy has had, whether they’ve been dewormed, and if they’ve been microchipped yet.
Remember, it’s now a legal requirement that puppies are microchipped by the time they are 8 weeks old and before they are sold.
Most importantly, they will be happy to answer all of your questions and won’t rush you or withhold any important information that you have a right to know about. They will be happy to speak to you or for you to visit more than once before they expect a deposit to be paid.
A responsible breeder will also be happy to use the ‘Puppy Contract’, an information pack created by the Animal Welfare Association and the RSPCA. It was developed to help buyers avoid problems that come from buying a puppy from an irresponsible breeder and includes a puppy questionnaire that can be filled out by the breeder. is endorsed by leading animal welfare and veterinary organisations.
Be sure to pay close attention to the condition of the premises and the general appearance of the dog(s). Among other things, a healthy puppy should have:
- Bright eyes with no redness or discharge
- A clean, shiny coat and no fleas
- Clean ears with no soreness or inflammation
- No breathing issues or nasal discharge
- A friendly and active demeanour
“Remember, if something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Although it’s tempting to ‘rescue’ the puppy, you will be financially supporting the trade and sadly, another puppy will just take their place – instead, walk away and report your concerns to us immediately.”