Puppy Buying – A Checklist for New Owners

Dog Doc Question 13:  What should you consider when buying a puppy?

How do you choose the right dog for you? I was watching a drama on TV last night where a couple who worked long hours decided to get their daughter a dog because she had been pestering for one for ages.  They wanted to cheer her up, so they found an advert for a dog that someone didn’t want any more.  They went into the house, chatted to the man for a few minutes, then the dog appeared and they told the girl she could have it.  Then they took it home.  Is this the correct way to buy a dog, do you think?

Step 1: Assess your current life

Think about your lifestyle, as it is now.  It’s no good thinking you would like to get a dog so you can go on long walks, if you don’t ever go on long walks now.  You must like walking first.  You might not go hiking in the hills on a daily basis, but you should at least prefer being out to watching TV and you should have some level of fitness.  You also need to be able to cope with a bit of rain, or wind, or sleet, or snow. Dogs don’t care about the weather, but they will be very disappointed if you don’t take them out for a walk every day.

If you work full time, what provision are you prepared to make for your dog? Can you take your dog with you to work?  Are you prepared to pay someone to come in and spend time with your dog and/or walk them for you?  Or do you have a friend, neighbour or family member you can persuade to have your dog for some of the time?

Do you currently have spare time?  Time when you are sitting around doing nothing much?  Or are you able to give up something you currently do?  Dogs take time, no matter how good they are.  I’d say at least 1-2 hours per day, EVERY DAY.

What about holidays?  Where do you like to go?  How long for, abroad or in the UK?  What will you do with a dog when you go away?  Of course there are kennels, but you might not want your dog shut in a cage for a fortnight.  There are good boarding places available, but this costs more and they have less availability.  Again, friends and family can be invaluable, but don’t make assumptions, discuss it with them.

Step 2: Assess what kind of dog you would like

There are plenty of great tools to help you with this.  The absolutely best thing to do is to go to Crufts Dog Show and visit the hall with the Discover Dogs at Crufts display.  They basically have every dog breed you can imagine on display, with real life examples of the dog for you to see and usually touch.  There will be a breeder there, willing to talk to you about their dog and why it is wonderful.  You can easily compare all the different types of dog.  Alternatively, go to the Discover Dogs Show Event in London, in November.

These days of course most people want a ‘designer dog’.  This means a crossbreed, or mongrel.  It is fashionable to give these dogs new names, to demonstrate that they have been purposefully ‘created’ rather than just randomly allowed to happen.  Most of these have ‘poo’ in the name, because they are a poodle crossed with something else.  BUYER BEWARE: Just because it has a funny name does NOT mean it will be an ideal dog for you.  I’ve already talked about some of the health issues in this article Crossbreeds and health

One way to choose the right breed for you is to go through a questionnaire, such as the Find A Dog one the KC website.  I don’t think these are perfect, as I can’t get it to select Border Collie for me!  Perhaps the best thing is to choose a breed based on a dog you know.

Step 3: Find a Breeder

I’ve already talked about this at great length, so won’t be boring about it now.  Look at the KC website and contact all the Assured Breeders  then apply to be on their waiting lists.  NB: Be prepared to WAIT FOR YOUR PUPPY.  It’s not a toy, it takes time to produce a dog.

Here’s a quick reminder of some of the questions to ask your breeder:

  1.  How many dogs do you have?  Can I see them?  Where do they live?  Good breeders might have a number of dogs, but they will be part of the family.  They might spend some time each day in crates or runs, but should be in the house for most of the time.
  2.  How many litters do you have per year?  How many does each dog have?    How old are they when they have the first litter?  And the last?  A litter of puppies is extremely time consuming (or should be!) So the more litters you have, the harder it is to spend time cuddling the pups.  Dogs should have no more than 4 litters each, between the ages of two and eight.
  3.  Who is the sire?  Why was he chosen? How closely related is he to the mother of the litter?  What is the in-breeding coefficient? Stud dogs should be from good lines, fully health tested and with a good temperament.  They should be similar in breeding to the bitch without being too closely related.
  4. What health tests have the parents had?  Can I have copies of these test certificates?  If the correct tests have been done for the breed, copies of these tests should be given to you as part of your puppy pack.

Ask me for Advice?

You are very welcome to contact me to ask for my advice.  I can help you with the following:

  • choosing a breed
  • finding a breeder
  • checking the health of the parents
  • helping you check the health of your puppy.

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