Making sure you find the right puppy and breeder
You’ve weighed up the time and financial implications, considered which breed will suit your lifestyle and are ready to take on the huge commitment of having a dog. Now would be an excellent time to discover more about puppies and breeders, before going out and buying your new pet?
Here, we give a few pointers that might just ensure you and your new fury companion are able to live happily together, without any health or behavioural problems.
Start your search by ensuring your pup is seven to eight weeks old. They shouldn’t be leaving their mother before they are properly weaned. If they aren’t fully weaned, they could be younger than advertised.
Be sure that mum is friendly with a sound temperament, as character can be inherited. If you’re not allowed to see mum and pup together it might be because they are not her puppies.
All puppies are born with worms. Worming should be started by the breeder when the dog reaches a couple of weeks old, being repeated every couple of weeks and continued when the dog comes into your care.
At 6-9 weeks old, pups should be vaccinated, with further injections given at 10-12 weeks. You’ll then have to wait a fortnight for your dog to be fully protected, ensuring you get your pooch vaccinated if the breeder has failed to do so.
When you collect them from the breeder, make sure your dog’s eyes, ears and bottom are clean. If they’re unwell, return another day. If they’re still unwell when you go back, do not take the puppy.
Puppy farms often treat dogs very poorly, which can lead to serious health and behavioural problems, usually as a result of poor breeding, bad sanitation, cheap food and bad handling.
Farmed dogs are often taken from their mother and siblings too soon, leading to socialisation problems with people and other dogs. Puppy farms can be bright and clean in appearance but there are tell tale signs to look out for. If you cannot meet a parent or there are lots of different breeds of pup present you should walk away.
When meeting a reputable breeder, eye and hip scores are worth obtaining, if possible, as they can be an indicator of future health problems. The Kennel Club has a set list of eye conditions and the breeds they are most likely to effect. Similarly the club runs a testing scheme to score dogs hips.
X-rays are sent away by a vet at the request of the breeder, enabling hip joints to be assessed for form and normality. Low scores are thought to be better for breeding healthy offspring. If your puppy’s parents have low hip scores, the Kennel Club suggests that your dog is less likely to suffer than if they possess high scores.
Some Signs of aggression, fearfulness, nervousness, or neurotic issues, such as chewing the tail, feet or skin damage are also clear signs that something is wrong.
Your gut instinct is often a reliable guide. If the puppy or breeder are causing you concern and you are uneasy, better to look elsewhere.