Kennel Club's open letter to the Daily Mail following the
article: 'I get rid of dogs as soon as they stop being cute
puppies' by Shona Sibary
The article in Friday's paper 'I get rid of dogs as soon as they
stop being cute puppies' by Shona Sibary, is actually a fantastic
example of what not to do when buying a puppy. I wanted to provide
an alternative suggestion of why Shona has trouble keeping dogs
that I hope will prevent her, and other people, repeating these
It is not surprising that when her puppies grow into dogs, Shona
is unable to cope. I would suggest that she is not the unemotional
dog owner she puts forward, but instead her ignorance around
responsible puppy buying is the root of the problem.
Shona seems to do all the wrong things when buying a puppy,
falling for the cute factor instead of asking 'is the breed right
for my family's lifestyle?' What is the breeding environment like?
Have the puppies been well socialised?
Shona's first dog, Juno, was a Siberian Husky cross. One of the
factors to bear in mind when you buy a crossbreed is that you
cannot know which characteristics it will inherit from each parent
breed, so it can be difficult to predict your new pet's suitability
for your lifestyle. However, one half of Juno's cross is the
Siberian Husky, which is a breed strictly for the active as they
were bred to pull sleds. They are also extremely intelligent, and
so without proper exercise and stimulation, they will cause
problems for an unprepared owner as they try to entertain
themselves and use up their excess energy.
Choosing the right breed for your lifestyle is of utmost
importance. There are over 200 different pedigree dog breeds
recognised in the UK, and of course crossbreeds too, and they vary
widely in terms of exercise requirements and personality. There are
events like Discover Dogs, which takes place every year in London
and introduces the public to hundreds of different breed and offers
Furthermore, even though Shona admitted she wasn't getting the
Rhodesian Ridgeback she thought she was when she bought Alba, she
went ahead as he was 'too gorgeous to resist'. This is
unsurprisingly, a common way people fall into buying a dog
unsuitable for them, and why puppy buyers should always see the
puppy before they buy it and never bring the children on a first
visit. You need to do all of your research about your breed and
breeder before you put yourself in this position.
From Shona's description, it sounds as if she bought from
breeders who did not know what they were doing. It doesn't sound as
if she checked to see if the supposed 'pedigree dog' was registered
on the Kennel Club database, which you can easily check online.
Here you can also see if the parents of any KC registered dog have
been health tested. It also seems that Shona didn't meet the litter
with their mother. This is one of the fundamental rules when buying
a puppy - always see the litter with the mother, in their breeding
environment, before agreeing to buy a puppy.
Perhaps most worryingly, her puppy Pippa was brought in from
Eastern Europe. The story that the owner was unable to cope sounds
doubtful, considering that puppies are not legally allowed to be
brought in to the country until they are at least 12 weeks old -
how long did the owner have the puppy for? It sounds as if the
puppy was brought over by one of the growing number of unscrupulous
breeders who are cheaply breeding dogs in horrific environments and
then smuggling them into the UK to sell for maximum profit.
Puppy buyers should always see a litter with its mum before
deciding on a dog - they should see, first-hand, the temperament
and personality of the mum, as this is a good indication of how the
puppy will turn out. The litter should be well socialised,
vaccinated and they should never be separated before they are eight
weeks old. Kennel Club Assured Breeders all sign up to these rules
and their paperwork and premises are checked by the Kennel Club so
we would always recommend going to an Assured Breeder.
Clearly unaware of the importance of a finding a good breeder
and choosing the right breed for her lifestyle, Shona is setting
herself up to fail time and time again. Unfortunately, her story is
not uncommon and one of the reasons so many dogs need to be rehomed
and rescue organisations are at breaking point.
It just so happens that Shona's article coincides with Puppy
Awareness Week which begins this week. So perhaps she should watch
the Kennel Club's video guide to buying a puppy: