Hi! I’m Sam from Dove Cottage. Last summer I welcomed a Maltese Terrier and Poodle cross puppy into my home.
Whilst she has brought endless joy (and a lot of mess!) with her, I didn’t take her arrival lightly. I spent months researching the best breed for us and making sure I knew everything I needed to know about becoming a dog owner.
Choosing to buy a puppy is exciting. But once you’ve decided to welcome a furry friend to your family, there are a number of things to consider.
You should always either adopt a rescue animal or make sure you’re buying from a responsible, and if possible certified breeder. Never buy from somewhere you suspect is involved in puppy farming.
The latter might seem to be a cheap and easy way to get a puppy. Unfortunately, you run the risk of buying a pet plagued with health problems. Not only that, you will also be funding illegal, cruel activities and putting other animals at risk.
To avoid that, there are ways to make sure you’re purchasing your puppy from a responsible breeder.
I’ve put together some important questions you should always ask when viewing a puppy. If you aren’t happy with the answers to any of your questions, you should always walk away.
Remember, getting a pet that’s perfect for you and your family takes time and diligence.
1. How old are the puppies?
Puppies should be at least eight weeks old when they leave their mother. Any younger than that you risk the puppy not being fully weaned, and therefore not ready to leave her mother.
2. Can I view the puppies with their mother?
It’s very common for puppy farms to remove puppies from their mother too early. They may even try to sell an older dog as a puppy or lie to you that a five to six weeks old puppy is already eight weeks old.
So, you should always be able to view the litter along with their mother within the breeder’s home. This is also a good opportunity to check out the mother too. Make sure her temperament and general health is what you would expect – and would be happy for your dog to inherit.
3. What vaccinations have the puppies had?
It’s important that your dog is properly vaccinated.
Good breeders will make sure to give the puppies their initial immunisation at seven to eight weeks old. The second part of the vaccine should be given a week later. Puppies should not come into contact with other dogs before both parts have been given.
4. Are the puppies weaned?
By the time a puppy is ready to leave their mother, the breeder needs to make sure that they are fully weaned onto solid foods.
You might also want to find out exactly what the puppy has been eating to make sure her transition into your home is as easy as possible – you don’t want to upset your new puppy’s little stomach!
5. Is the father of the puppies a stud?
You should be able to find out all the information you want to about the puppies’ father.
Some breeders would have used a stud dog, others may even own the dad. So, they should be able to give you details about his breed, age, and health.
If you’re buying a pedigree dog you should also be able to view their certificates, or even get your own copies.
Our dog’s breeder even gave us a copy of her ‘family tree’!
6. Are the puppies used to household noises?
A puppy that has spent the first few weeks of their life in the breeder’s home should be used to everyday household noises, such as washing machines, vacuums, and even children and other animals.
Puppy farms can sometimes ‘stage’ a viewing within a home – so be wary of puppies that don’t look at home, or are afraid of everyday noises.
7. Can I take something from the mother to help the puppy settle into my home?
A good breeder will want a puppy to be happy in their new home. They will often be happy to give you something like a blanket or toy that smells of the mother to help your new arrival feel safe and happy in your home.
There are lots of other things you’ll want to ask, and if you’re dealing with a good breeder, they’ll have lots of questions for you too.
It’s also a good idea to arrange a second viewing, just to double check everything is to your satisfaction. If the seller makes an excuse and insists you take the puppy with you there and then, this should be a sign all may not be right.
If you’ve done your research properly and are happy with the answers to all your questions, the only thing left to do is to welcome your new friend into your home!