Other > Guides

Thinking of buying a puppy? Read this guide first

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Dec 21, 2015

Here's what you need to know to make buying a puppy a happy and safe experience. 

Buying a puppy can be an emotional experience. That’s good – but it’s all too easy to let your heart make all the decisions and to ignore the practical realities.

‘Puppy farms’ are big business and there are plenty of people out there who are only interested in taking your cash, rather than the welfare of the animals. As Jane Taylor tragically found out when she bought her puppy Buddy. 


What do you need to know when buying a puppy?

Here’s what the RSPCA and others recommend when buying a pup.

Before you even contact a breeder, you should consider the commitment owning a dog involves and whether you are really prepared for this.

You should also examine your lifestyle and home circumstances before making a decision. 

If you live in a small flat, for example, is it really fair to introduce a large breed into this environment? 

Also, do research on different breeds – some need much more exercise and mental stimulation that others and will become destructive and miserable if you’re not around to supply these.

Once you’ve made a decision and have found the puppy that looks right for you, you should be thinking about how to check the breeder out. 

You are looking for a responsible breeder who has the dog’s welfare in mind as well as a price!


Before you visit: 

Here’s what you need to ask even before you visit:

* Are they the breeder of the puppy?
* Are the puppies kept where they were bred?
* How many puppies are/were in the litter?
* Have the puppies or their parents had any health problems?
* Have the puppies been treated for worms or other parasites?
* Have, or will, the puppies be given their first vaccinations before going to their new homes?
* Have the parents been screened for any inherited problems known to be a problem in that breed?
* Do the puppies have any form of identification, such as microchips?

Any responsible breeder should be able to answer these questions satisfactorily.  

Any doubts at this stage, then walk away.


Meeting the puppies:

When you visit and meet the puppies:

* Try not to get carried away, even though the pups are cute. It’s important to proceed properly.
* Make sure you meet the mother – and that she’s healthy. Most good breeders will have her there with her pups. It’s good, too, to meet dad. But seeing the mother is a minimum.
* Ask about the mum. Does she seem to have a friendly temperament? Does she appear to be healthy?
* Look for clues and signs that the puppy was born and lives here.
* Ask to see any certificates to show screening for problem diseases (labradors, for example, are prone to hip and eye problems and should be screened). Also check for vaccination and microchipping records.
* Check the puppy seems healthy, outgoing and friendly. Check he is walking properly, has a healthy coat, doesn’t have a runny nose or eyes and is breathing properly and not coughing.
* Do not be rushed.
* Do not buy on first visit.


Assessing the breeder

It’s also important to make a judgement about the breeder. 

Do they seem at all interested in you?  They should be. 

They should want to know something of your circumstances – will the dog be left alone for extended periods, what kind of property do you live in, where will you be able to exercise the dog, and so on?

If they don’t seem bothered, ask yourself whether they have the interests of the dog at heart and, if not, what this tells you about the circumstances in which the pups were bred.

We hope this guide helps anyone thinking of buying a puppy to have a happy and safe experience. If you found it useful, you can share it using the Twitter and Facebook buttons below.


A Spokesman Said offers price comparison in energy, insurance and broadband that could save you hundreds.