So you’ve decided that you want to buy a puppy. But before you rush off and start phoning around, pause for a moment. Buying a puppy isn’t like getting a new coat or haircut; it has long term, serious implications for both you, your family, the puppy itself, and dogs in general.
Don’t jump into a purchase with both feet on a whim, and don’t be naïve about the buying process; as well as finding out more about the type of puppy you want to buy and assessing if you are properly able to care for it for the duration of its life, make sure that your purchase does not have a negative impact on the long term health and happiness of the puppy itself, and use your buying power wisely to support responsible breeding, and say no to shady operations.
Not sure how to make sure that you’re doing everything right? Read on.
The principles of simple economics dictate that by buying a puppy, you are increasing demand for puppies of that type, and so, contributing to the viability and financial benefits of further puppies being bred. This can be a good thing if you are buying a good quality pedigree puppy from a responsible breeder, from a breed where there are not an excess of puppies needing homes each year due to overbreeding.
But it can be a bad thing too, if your part in supporting the breeding economy contributes towards irresponsible breeding, puppy farming, breeding for profit only, or breeding without health and wellness as the breeder’s main priorities.
Puppies of breeds that are known to have an elevated risk of health problems should only be bought from breeders with healthy dogs that undertake pre-breeding tests and screening on their own dogs, and if you want to get a puppy from a very popular and widely bred breed such as the Labrador retriever and you just want a great companion, consider adopting one from a shelter instead of buying.
Once you have decided the breed that you are interested in, looked into their potential health issues and found out as much as you can about the breed in order to make an informed decision to buy, the next thing to consider is where your puppy is going to come from. No caring dog lover would buy from a puppy farm or mill out of choice, and so it is vitally important to visit the puppy at the breeder’s home, with the dam, and watch the interaction of the owners with their dogs to assess that everything is how it should be.
Don’t meet a so-called breeder in a car park or location away from their home, or allow them to bring puppies to you. This should give you some security that the puppy you are considering, and the breeder selling them, is representing themselves honestly.
However, this is not always enough. Puppy mills and unscrupulous backyard breeders know that buyers do not want to buy from puppy farms, and they go to great lengths to keep potential buyers away from the places where they really breed their dogs. This goes as far as setting up litters in homes temporarily to allow visits, particularly if you refused offers to meet them in a public place.
If a breeder or seller offers to meet you in a public place, don’t continue with the enquiry, even if they later offer a private meeting.
Again, even within a private home environment, watch the owner’s interactions with their dogs. The dogs should recognise them, be bonded with them, and respond to them with love and trust. You should also ask to see the puppies parents if possible, if the puppies have been bred at home, you should usually be able to at least see the mother.
Small, responsible breeding operations that produce small numbers of good quality pedigree puppies will almost universally be registered with The Kennel Club, as will one-off hobbyist breeders of pedigree litters from their own pets.
Check that the registration details for the pups and dam match the details of the people you are meeting with, and ask for references from previous buyers.
Research each advert that you read carefully, and check to see if there are patterns in terms of the amounts of litters offered each year, the breeds offered, and the style of the adverts, in order to judge if what you are being told by the seller is true. If you suspect that someone is misrepresenting themselves or making out that their breeding operation is something that it is not, report them to us for further investigation, and the appropriate authorities if you have any concerns.
If you get a bad feeling or something just doesn’t add up somewhere along the line, back out. It can be really hard to leave a litter of puppies behind, particularly if you feel sorry for them or feel that something is wrong and they may have an uncertain future, but there are professional organisations in place to deal with these things on a large scale, and buying one puppy from a litter in an attempt to “save” it will only ultimately lead to more puppies being bred to take its place.
The only way to stop puppy mills, irresponsible breeders and breeders who are only chasing profit from breeding litters in perpetuity is to take away the benefit of them doing so; the profit. Refusing to buy from such endeavours, and being streetwise enough to know when someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes are the best tools available to you to support responsible puppy buying, and make life better for all dogs.