Buying a puppy
Choosing a puppy responsibly
There are many wonderful puppies and dogs who currently need good forever homes and we would always encourage people to consider adoption in the first instance. There are many large rehoming centres such as RSPCA, Bluecross, Battersea Dogs Home and Dogs Trust. If you are looking to support local centres, you may wish to visit Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary or Rossendale Responsible Animal Rescue (RRAR).
From 6th April 2020 puppies under the age of 6 months can only be obtained from breeders or rehoming centres. It is illegal for anyone else to sell puppies under this age. Where to start! You can search for licensed breeders from our register of licences.
Signs of a good breeder
This list is not exhaustive but it will give you enough to consider whether the person you’re buying your puppy from is a responsible breeder. A good breeder will:
- Give lots of information in an advert and the picture will match the litter
- May have a waiting list for puppies
- Encourage you to meet your puppy several times before taking them home
- Have a clean and safe area in their home for puppies and their mum
- Ask you lots of questions about why you want a puppy and what you know about the breed. Be prepared!
- Want you to ask lots of questions about them and their puppies
- Sell puppies with a contract that promises to take the puppy back if there are any problems
- Keep in touch after you’ve taken the puppy home
- Has the puppies microchipped before you can take them home and 5 star licensed breeders will update the chip to your name and details (this is a legal requirement, unless they have a certificate signed by a vet)
- Have puppies and a mum who are obviously happy in their environment
- Not let you take the puppy home until they’re old enough to leave mum, at least eight weeks
- Encourage you to meet other members of the litter’s family
- Tell you all about the socialisation they’ve been doing, eg taking them in the car, meeting lots of people of all ages, meeting other animals, playing etc
- Have started housetraining the pups by the time they are old enough to leave
- Give evidence of relevant health testing, if needed. Some breeds and crossbreeds should have genetic testing to rule out inherited disease.
- Provides pet insurance for the first few weeks to cover illness
Warning signs to walk away if you experience the following from the breeder:
- Gives very little information in an advert, for eg one or two sentences
- Won’t let you, or makes excuses about why you can’t, meet the puppy’s family members including mum and littermates
- Offers to meet you in a public place such as the street, a service station or railway station to hand over the puppy. Or, offers to drop the puppy off at your home. Puppies must always be shown with the mum in the premises which they were bred.
- Will not let you meet the puppy or mum before the occasion you take the puppy home
- Puppy has a pet passport. Puppies that are offered for sale with a pet passport are very likely to have been bred abroad for commercial sale in the UK, meaning they will have been transported hundreds of miles at a very young age. Not only does the travel have a negative impact on the puppy’s welfare, but you will have no way of checking the environment the litter and parents were kept in. If you are concerned contact Trading Standards and the RSPCA. It is illegal for puppies under 12 weeks to be imported, and bad for their welfare.
- Can’t provide proof of vaccination, worming, health certificates etc
- Cannot give you information about, or proof of, relevant genetic health testing
- Puppy isn’t microchipped (this is a legal requirement before the pup goes to a new home)
What is Kennel Club registration, and what does it mean to have a KC registered litter? Purebred puppies will come with a pedigree certificate from the Kennel Club, the body that registers pedigree dogs in the UK. These tell you that the dog you have bought is the breed the seller says it is.
If you see the phrase ‘KC registered litter’ on an advert, this simply means that the birth has been registered. Sometimes, an advert might say the puppy 'comes with papers'.
A Kennel Club registration certificate is a record of a dog’s birth – just like a human baby’s birth certificate. A pedigree certificate displays a dog’s family tree. Beware of fake certificates and always check with the Kennel Club to ensure its authenticity.
It is not a guarantee of health, and it does not alone give an indication of whether the breeder is responsible or licensed.
The Kennel Club also runs an Assured Breeder Scheme. Breeders who register with this scheme are inspected by the Kennel Club and must meet certain standards, including screening mums and dads for relevant genetic problems.
Regardless of whether or not your puppy has pedigree paperwork, we still recommend doing your homework and making sure you are happy with the breeder before committing to purchasing a pup from them