You’ve decided to take a big step and acquire a dog. Congratulations! If you have your heart set on a specific breed of dog – or mix – you’ll need to find a reputable breeder to provide you with that cute furry friend.
If you aren’t fussed about pedigree or age, of course, the right thing to do is to adopt your perfect pooch from a rescue charity.
Search for your nearest Dog Rescue centre on dentons.net.
You’ll pay an adoption fee but will have the assurance that the dog is spayed or neutered, has been tested for sociability and behaviour, and is healthy and free of disease.
If you plan to buy a puppy from a breeder it is crucial to check very carefully that you are not buying a bundle of trouble. At the very least you could unwittingly be encouraging the proliferation of unscrupulous cruel “puppy farms”, and at worst you could be buying a pitiful pup with all sorts of health issues, behavioural problems or genetic defects which will only become apparent later.
Pedigree pups are expensive, which is why the business of breeding them is open to abuse. Be sure you buy from the best – for the sake of yourself and the puppy. As of October 1st 2018, new legislation comes into place for dog breeders. Make sure you’re clued up on the law.
How to decide which breed of dog is for you?
Many breeds may surprise you! Chihuahuas, for example, are not always the cute, cuddly little toy dogs they appear to be. They are fierce and can be quite scary, in defence of their owner. They have extremely big barks which they use frequently and don’t like to be around other, especially bigger, breeds of dogs.
It’s a case of matching your personality and lifestyle to the right breed – or a mix of breeds – to ensure that you and your four-footed friend will make each other happy.
Here is a table showing some of the more popular breeds, and what to expect from them. For full breed details see the Breeds Information page on the Kennel Club Website.
|Afghan Hound||Finicky eaters, high maintenance grooming, energetic, highly strung, good with children.|
|Airedale Terrier||Intelligent and very active, fun-loving, good family pets.|
|Bassett Hound||Tend to be lazy, but need their exercise! Sociable, playful, calm and love children.|
|Beagle||Needs a great deal of exercise, a firm hand with training, monitoring of food intake because of a tendency to overeat. Good-natured and great with children.|
|Border Collie||Fiercely loyal, lively, agile and alert working dog requiring plenty of attention, engagement and exercise. Thrives on training. Not for young children.|
|Boxer||Can be stubborn so need a firm hand. Love to be in the centre of the action. Loyal, lively, strong and very active they need a lot of exercise. Good family pet.|
|Bulldog||Prone to many health problems, and obesity. Intelligent, good-natured and clownish, requiring short walks at a slow pace. They love children.|
|Daschund (smooth haired)||Greedy, prone to spinal problems and skin ailments. Intelligent but difficult to train. Wary of strangers and don’t take easily to children.|
|Dalmatian||Willing and eager to please, outgoing and friendly. Great with children. Their exercise needs are great and can be challenging for owners.|
|English Cocker Spaniel||Quick and keen to learn, they are easy to train. Enjoy swimming and plenty of exercise, great family pet. Prone to eye problems.|
|Great Dane||Affectionate, active, and intelligent they make great family pets. First class watchdogs.|
|Greyhound||Athletic, but short endurance so frequent short runs are best. Calm and social indoors, and good with children, but not cats!|
|Irish Red Setter||Easy to train, needs plenty of exercise, gentle and affectionate with children. Tend to bark incessantly when bored. Daily grooming essential.|
|Labrador||Intelligent companion and assistance dogs, enjoy long walks and retrieving. Good natured, friendly, loving. Perfect family dogs.|
|Poodle (standard)||Curly coats and noble bearing make great show dogs. Lively, affectionate happy family dogs, need plenty of exercise and professional grooming.|
|Rottweiler||Protective, good guard dogs. Require a great deal of exercise. Can be jealous and dominant by nature.|
|Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)||Tendency to become overweight, intelligent and active. Like to nip heels. Suited to an active family.|
|Yorkshire Terrier||Small, but a big attitude. Not just a lap dog but likes to run, chase, fetch. Not good with children.|
Where to find a good breeder
Once you have decided which breed, or mixed breed, of dog you would like it’s time to seek one out.
A good place to start is at local dog shows, particularly if you want a pedigreed animal. Ask around among the owners, and find out about breed clubs. If you see a prime example of your chosen breed, ask the owner where he/she came from and contact the breeder.
Word of mouth is the best way to find a reputable, responsible breeder. Advertisements or listings on pet websites are not reliable.
The best breeder to deal with is one that is part of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, which lays down guidelines for health screening and all sorts of other issues related to breeding. Be aware that a responsible dog breeder will NEVER sell puppies through a pet shop, on the internet or from a car boot!
You can find listings for dog breeders and dog breed clubs in your area on dentons.net.
Choosing a dog breeder
Alarm bells should ring if:
- The breeder you contact has just the breed of puppy you want available immediately.
- The breeder wants to bring the puppy to you or arranges a rendezvous somewhere to sell you the puppy.
- The breeder makes excuses if you want to see the mother or siblings of the puppy.
- When you do see the mother, and she is seemingly very young and does not interact affectionately and familiarly with her owner.
- The puppy you are shown is lethargic and in poor condition.
- The mother and siblings are kept in a small cage or enclosure and show signs of neglect.
These could all be indicators of puppy farming, which in many instances is illegal. By buying a puppy from such a breeder you will be contributing to the practice of puppy farming, in which dogs are often kept in appalling conditions and bred continuously. A puppy from such a background will usually be unhealthy, unsocialised, frightened and stressed – possibly leading to aggression and other behavioural problems in the future.
If you suspect a person of being a puppy farmer walk away and call the RSPCA or the police.
A good breeder will:
- Probably not have a puppy available to order, but will add you to the waiting list for the next litter – around two litters a year from a dam is considered reasonable.
- Treat the mother and her litter as part of the family, not shut away or segregated from the daily round.
- Not allow your chosen puppy to go home with you until he/she is about eight weeks old.
- Invite you to meet the mother and handle the puppies.
- Be knowledgeable about the breed and dogs in general, and happy to discuss the origins of her animals with you.
- Question you about your home and family circumstances, to be sure the puppy will fit happily into your life.
- Be happy to provide you with a sale receipt, a detailed pedigree (from the Kennel Club preferably), vaccination certificates and any other paperwork you ask for, including written advice about training, worming, immunising, feeding and so on.
- Make you aware of breed-specific health issues, if any, and advise on how to detect and monitor these.
When you have chosen your puppy it’s a good idea not to buy him/her immediately. Wait a few weeks, prepare your home for the new arrival and pay visits to the puppy to get to know him/her before you ultimately commit to ownership. Remember a dog is for life – in the case of most dogs, this will be 15 years or more.
What your new addition expects and requires from you:
- Registration with a vet
- Pet insurance, and puppy training classes
- A comfy bed in a quiet corner where he/she can rest without being bothered
- A safe environment, clear of anything poisonous, hazardous or that you don’t want to be chewed
- Time to spend with him/her while he/she settles into the new home and continues toilet training
- Dog toys and accessories
- Food (best to keep the same food as the puppy was having at the previous home) and treat rewards
- A travelling crate
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