8 things to check when choosing a puppy
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8 things to check when choosing a puppy

Are you ready to find a puppy? We’ve teamed up with FirstVet, the 24-hour digital veterinary service, to share some top tips on how to make sure the puppy you choose is healthy and happy.

1. Where has the puppy been living?

Where your puppy has been bred and raised and their early life experiences are important things to consider when choosing the right puppy for you. It’s best to choose a puppy that has been bred in a similar environment to your own home. For example, if you have children, you should get a puppy that has been bred in a family home. 

2. Can you see the puppy’s mother?

When getting a puppy, you should always see them with their mother in the place where they were born. You can learn a lot about your puppy’s temperament by observing their mum. How does the puppy’s mother behave towards you? Is she friendly and confident, which is what you should be looking for, or fearful?

3. Does the puppy seem happy and confident?

Choose a puppy from the litter that seems confident and is happy to approach and play with you. Here’s some signs to look for in a happy, confident puppy. They: 

  • Have a relaxed body language
  • Are happy to be picked up and touched without flinching or moving away
  • Engage with the other puppies in the litter
  • Are happy playing with a toy, e.g. pouncing and chasing
  • Follow you and responds to a happy, gentle voice

Each puppy will have their own unique personality - ask the breeder to describe them to help you find your perfect match.

4. Does the puppy look healthy?

A puppy that has been bred well and raised with care will look healthy. Use this health checklist when choosing your puppy:

  • Are their eyes clear and bright?
  • Are their ears clean and not smelly?
  • Do their teeth look clean and are their gums pink rather than red?
  • Is their fur soft and shiny, with no sign of fleas?
  • Is their bottom clean with no sign of soreness or diarrhoea?
  • Is the puppy a good weight with no ribs visible?  

5. Has the puppy been wormed?

Worms can be harmful to young puppies whose immune systems are still in development. For this reason, puppies should be treated for worms by the breeder, before they leave for their new homes. Make sure that your puppy has been wormed and find out what treatment they were given. Read more about worming your dog.

Need advice about worming your puppy? Speak to a FirstVet vet.

6. Has the breeder started to socialise the puppy?

Between the ages of 4 to 16 weeks, puppies are most inquisitive and receptive to new experiences, making it an important period for your puppy to learn key life skills. This is known as puppy socialisation. Ask the breeder what experiences your puppy has been exposed to. At this stage, experiences should include being slowly introduced to different people, being handled and brushed and having their paws touched. Read more.

7. Has the puppy been tested for any inherited conditions?

Some breeds of dogs are at risk of genetic disorders, including hip or elbow dysplasia and eye disease. Health screening helps to identify dogs that may be susceptible to these conditions. Do your research to find out if your chosen breed is at risk of genetic disorders. If so, ask the breeder to show you the test results for both parents.

8. Has the puppy been microchipped?

By law, all puppies must be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks old. This means that your puppy should be microchipped before they come to live with you. The breeder will give you some paperwork with your puppy’s microchip registration details, which you will then need to update with your details. Read more.

Got a question about your puppy’s health?

Book a video appointment to have a chat with one of the FirstVet vets.

If you believe a pet may have been subject to poor breeding practices, please do not “save” the animal by rehoming it. Instead, walk away and report the seller to us immediately. Please refer to the full checklist for the pet you are looking for here.

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