Updated: Feb 17, 2021
Where To Start.
First and foremost, the source of your puppy is very important.
Unfortunately, not all breeders are good and knowledgeable about breeding puppies. Some are just in it for the money with no care for the puppies well being at all. You need to take into consideration where the puppy comes from, as a bad start in life can make your job in raising a well balanced dog much harder. The process of socialisation should already be well under way by the time puppies are ready to leave their mother, how thoroughly this has been done will make an enormous difference to the way your puppy eventually forms it's understanding of the world. By the time your puppy is weaned and ready to leave his mother, it is already nearly halfway towards the closing of the window of opportunity for socialisation, and the process should have already begun in earnest. When the puppy is ready to go to his new home at eight weeks old, about one month of prime socialisation time has gone by. The breeder therefore has a responsibility to ensure that puppies are well handled and socialised during that time. This is why you need to make a very careful choice about where your puppy comes from. But how do you tell the good from the bad? What is the difference between a breeder and a puppy farmer? As with all things in life, there are good and there are bad, we want to try and avoid lining the pockets of bad breeders and puppy farmers. Sometimes new owners don’t know what to look for or know how to tell the difference between the good and bad.
Here are some important factors that we should be aware of when looking for and choosing a breeder.
Meet The Parents
It is important that you are able to meet the mother of the puppy and look for signs which show the mother interacting directly with her puppies. If the breeder does not let you see the mother directly with her puppies, this should set off a big red flag warning.
Another alarm bell would be if the breeder carries the mother in and does not put her down, this may indicate maybe the mother is not familiar with, or cannot be trusted around the puppies which in turn, could indicate a significant time of absence, or possibly not even being the biological mother at all.
If you are unable to meet the mother at all, this could be because the breeder is in fact a puppy farmer, or worse, one of the awful criminals making money out selling stolen dogs / puppies. You should also be able to ask about or see the sire, if you cannot to see the sire, ask to see pictures of him. Either way, both parents should have sound, friendly temperaments for the best possible chance of a well rounded adult dog in the future.
Enquire as to what health vetting the breeder has done to show that the parents are both in good health. If the sire is not owned by the breeder, are you able to contact the owner of the sire and ask directly?
The best possible start for a puppy is to be born into a busy, lively family household where he can experience all of the sights and sounds that he needs to become familiar with.
If the puppy is handled carefully by children and adults each day, played with nicely by visitors and has met other friendly dogs, by the time he gets to you will already be well on the way to being balanced and confident in all situations. Try to look beyond the cute pictures of the puppy on the kitchen floor and ask to see videos of the puppies playing and nursing from their mother.
Beware of buying a puppy from sources where little care has been taken - for example a farm where the puppies are kept outside and have never been taken into the home.
Look for any photos of the whelping area, tell tale signs of a kennel breeder are concrete garage walls or wooden kennels. You should be able to see where the puppy has been reared. If the breeder does not want to show you where the puppy is reared and/or wants to meet you in a public environment, this is a strong indication that this breeder is a puppy farmer or that the dog’s living conditions are poor.
For a well, socialised puppy choose one that has been reared inside in a family home setting, throughout the full duration of the puppy’s upbringing. In their whelping box, there should be different surfaces, textures, things like artificial grass, a tray with sand on and lots of different textured toys, some soft, some hard, some small, some large and big ones to cuddle up to.
Good breeders might even play noises in the background, such as thunder, fireworks, birds, washing machines, hoovers etc - lots of everyday noises so they won't alarm them when they're grown up. All of these things should have been added in gradually so as not to startle the puppies.
The breeder should also be keeping puppies in comfortable and hygienic conditions and ensure that they are well cared for and well socialised before offering them for sale.
You need at least one visit prior to picking your puppy up and you should be able to ask for photos and videos of the puppies throughout their upbringing. Buying a puppy that you know has had plenty of pleasant experiences in a varied environment will set you off on the right foot.
Google the breeder, look at reviews and speak to owners of previous litters. Beware of advertisements the offer puppies of several different breeds, and never take on a puppy that the breeder or supplier has offered to deliver to your home or meet you halfway 'to save you a journey'. Boot of the car puppy swaps are almost certainly of questionable merit and you may unknowingly be participating in a criminal act. All good breeders should be very knowledgeable of their breed. Very few if any reputable breeders focus on more than one breed and even when they do, they will tend to be focused around a specific type of dog. The breeder should know specifics surrounding the health, temperament, breed traits and reasons why they specifically choose that breed.
Puppy Health & Vet Care
Ensure you see written confirmation of the tests that have been carried out along with the findings and ensure the litter of puppies have been seen and health checked by a registered vet.
The breeder should have written confirmation from the vet of the health checks carried out on the puppies along with any findings and the puppy should not be showing any signs of ill health. The puppy should be responsive, not lethargic or sick. If you can, try to check it's stools, it is not normal to see blood in them and should appear worm free.
If you see any signs that a puppy is very unwell or being mistreated, the breeder should be reported to their local council so the local dog warden can investigate.
Make sure you receive the puppy’s microchip paperwork when you pick your puppy up. By law, all puppies are to be microchipped and registered to the breeder prior to leaving for their new homes.
Finally, it is the law that a puppy does not leave the breeder under the age of 8 weeks old, no matter how excited your children (or you) are, please be patient.
Always meet the mother, check for positive interaction.
Ask questions about, and / or meet the father.
Ensure it is socialising with other friendly people, dogs and other animals.
Check home / whelping environment for cleanliness, warmth & water.
Request heath check status, vaccinations and certificates.
Ensure they are over the minimum age at hand over.
At handover, ensure you are given the same puppy you saw previously.
Finally, don't forget to get yourself some toys and treats to try and keep your new fluffy ball of destructive fun from amusing itself with your furniture. Feel free to check out some of our range of handmade tuggers, chews & enrichment toys for some great ideas.