Puppy buying guide


Sources: RSPCA, Dogs Trust

Thinking of adding a new member to the family? All the information relating to buying a new puppy can be a little overwhelming, so we have put together a guide on what to look out for when buying your new puppy, and what measures to take to ensure the puppy transitions to its new environment as seamlessly as possible. 

If you are buying a puppy from a breeder, do look at the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, or alternatively check with a local vet to see if they know of any reputable breeders.

Make sure you see the puppy interacting with the rest of the litter and its mother. A puppy is not ready to leave its mother before it is 8 weeks old.

The breeder should allow you to handle the puppies. Visit the breeder at least twice before making the final collection. The breeder should allow you to handle the puppies each time you visit. Check that the puppies have regular access to human contact – it is better that the puppies are being raised in a home environment, rather than a kennel, so that they become familiar with everyday sights, smells and sounds.

Check whether the facilities appear clean and the puppy seems alert and healthy. There should be no discharge from its eyes or nose or any sores, bald patches or scabs on the skin. The puppy should be alert and show no obvious signs of illness such as coughing.

Find out whether the puppy has been wormed and vaccinated – some breeders will vaccinate puppies at 8 weeks of age before releasing them to their new owners. If possible, request a written agreement that the puppy is subject to a satisfactory examination by your vet within 48 hours of purchase.

Ask if the puppy will be covered by insurance for any illness during the first few weeks in your care – most good breeders subscribe to this scheme.

Things to consider when buying a puppy:

  • Avoid anywhere advertising more than three different breeds.
  • Ensure you get your puppy from a reputable source: breeder / organisation.
  • Do not buy a puppy if you have any doubts about the breeder or situation – even if you want to rescue it.
  • If you do rehome a puppy from a private seller, ensure you notify the original breeder or organisation that they came from. A reputable breeder or organisation will want to know if ownership has changed.

A responsible breeder will:

  • Spend time chatting to you on the phone and will arrange a time for you to visit to meet their puppies, along with their mum and siblings, in the place where they were born and raised.
  • Be happy to have more than one meeting to ensure you and the puppy are compatible. 
  • Be happy to answer all of your questions and ask you just as many to make sure their puppies are going to a good home.
  • Be happy to use the Puppy Contract
  • Be happy to show you their Local Authority licence if they are breeding and selling pets as a business (to make a profit).
  • Provide genuine paperwork/certificates for puppy vaccinations, microchipping (which is a legal requirement), worming and results for a health test where relevant.

A responsible breeder won’t:

  • Rush you into parting with cash in exchange for a puppy.
  • Try to fob you off by saying that the mother is at the vets, asleep or out for a walk. If mum isn’t there, then the puppy wasn’t bred there.
  • Offer to deliver a puppy to you or meet you somewhere random like a car park.
  • Say “it’s normal for the breed” about any health issues such as unusual breathing – all puppies should be born with the best chance of living happy, healthy lives whatever breed they are.
  • Use Kennel Club registration (or any other registration) as a guarantee of quality or health and happiness.



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