Buying a dog

Before you visit a breeder, it’s a good idea to speak to them over the phone to ask some basic questions. It’s very difficult to resist a cute puppy, so we recommend asking the most important questions before you visit the breeder in person.

Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions

If the breeder is responsible then they will be happy to answer any questions about themselves, their dogs or their breeding choices.

Questions to ask before you visit the puppy

  • Did they breed the puppy themselves?
    You should only ever buy a puppy direct from the breeder.
  • How many puppies are there and how old are they?
    You may want to ask this question when you see the puppies to double check you get the same answer.
  • Will you be able to see where they were bred?
    It’s advisable to see where the puppies were bred to ensure the conditions were good.
  • Will you be able to see the mum?
    You should always be able to see the puppy with its mother.
  • How old is the mother and how many litters has she had?
    The mother must not have been mated before 12 months of age, must be no older than 8 years old and should not have bred more than four litters in her lifetime – including this litter.
  • Was the birth natural or was a caesarean section required? If a c-section was required, have they had one before and how many times?
    A dog should not have more than two c-sections.
  • Will you be able to see the father?
    The father of the puppies may not be there, but it is worth meeting him if possible.
  • Have the puppies had any health problems?
    You want to ensure that the puppy you buy is healthy from the outset.
  • Have the parents been checked for inherited conditions?
    It's important to find out what health tests are relevant for your chosen breed and whether your puppy's parents have been screened.
  • What is the puppy’s inbreeding coefficient?
    Highly inbred puppies can be more susceptible to inheriting genetic diseases from the parents. Learn more about inbreeding coefficients.
  • Can you have the registration details of the sire (father) and dam (mother)?
    This will allow you to check the health tests and inbreeding coefficient.
  • Will the puppies be vaccinated and wormed before coming home with you?

    Puppies are usually wormed at 2, 5 and 8 weeks of age.

    Ideally, your puppy should be vaccinated before they come to you, however some breeders may choose not to.

If you are happy with all of the answers you have been given, then you can arrange to see the puppies. When you visit the breeder, try not to be too distracted by the cute puppies, and remember to ask the questions below.

Questions to ask during your visit

  • Can you meet all of the puppies?
    You should be able to meet all of the puppies to help you choose which puppy would best suit you.
  • Can you see the mother?
    You should always be able to see the mother interacting with the puppies.
  • What are the mother and father’s temperament like?
    This will help you determine the temperament of your puppy.
  • How have the puppies been socialised?
    Puppies should be given regular access to other people and adult dogs.
  • What experiences does the breeder aim to provide to the puppies before they go to their new home?Before a puppy goes home with their new owner, they should have been exposed to a range of experiences and noises.
  • If you have children – have the puppies been seen by other children?
    To help the puppies become accustomed to children, it’s advisable that they interact with children from a young age.
  • Will there be a contract of sale?
    This is a must and will list both the breeder’s responsibility and your responsibility to the puppy.
  • Can you see the pedigree (family tree)?
    If you’re buying a pedigree dog this should be available and will tell you about your dog’s ancestry.
  • Can you see any health certificates for both the mother and father of the puppy?
    It’s important that you are aware of any conditions which might affect the breed and whether the puppy’s parents have been tested.
  • Will you be given any written advice when you take the puppy home?
    Responsible breeders will provide you with written advice on training, feeding, exercise, worming and immunisation.
  • Can the puppy be returned if there are any problems?
    A responsible breeder will take back and rehome a puppy should there be any problems.
  • Can the puppy be returned if there are any problems?
    A responsible breeder will take back and rehome a puppy should there be any problems.
  • What dog food would the breeder recommend?
    Once the puppy comes home, switching to a different brand of food can sometimes give them an upset tummy. It’s also useful to know which type of food a breeder would recommend.
  • If you’d like to breed from the puppy once they are old enough – will there be any breeding restrictions in the contract?
    Some breeders will place restrictions on whether the puppy will be able to be bred from. It’s always best to check before signing a contract.
  • At what age will the puppy be microchipped?
    Your puppy should be microchipped before they come to you  this is now a legal requirement.
  • At what age will the puppy be allowed to come home with you?
    It is advised that puppies should not be rehomed at any younger than 8 weeks old, although in some cases they may be rehomed at a minimum of 6 weeks.

    If your puppy is younger than 8 weeks, double check that the breeder has written confirmation from a vet that this is acceptable.

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