GUIDE

A Life Changing Decision

Looking to buy a dog or a puppy? Read more below on responsible ownership and the do’s and don’ts of buying a puppy.

a smiling bernese mountain dog

Finding a responsible breeder

Do your research; there are lots of places you can find adverts for puppies and always remember if something is too good to be true – it usually is! Remember most good breeders don’t have to advertise, so free ads are not always a good place to look. Here are some useful online resources for finding a dog:

Find a Puppy
Find a Kennel Club Assured Breeder
Breed Information Centre

Ask friends, family, breed clubs, training clubs or your vet for any recommendations.

Go to a Kennel Club Assured Breeder if you are buying a pedigree puppy. The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme is an opt-in scheme for breeders, where they agree to follow basic good breeding practice requirements and recommendations as a minimum, which encourage the breeding of healthy, well-adjusted puppies. These requirements include providing new owners with advice about rearing and training your puppy, and also mandatory health testing, which can reduce or even eliminate the chances of your puppy suffering from a hereditary disease. You can search Assured Breeders and relevant tests in step 3.

Do check if you are not sure. If you have seen a breeder advertised and are not sure whether they are a Kennel Club Assured Breeder or not you can call 0129 631 8540.

Don’t go to a pet shop! Very few caring and responsible breeders are prepared to sell their puppies to a third party; they want to meet the new owners themselves and make sure that the puppy is going to a good a caring home. Many puppies sold in pet shops and the new “pet supermarkets” will have come from puppy farms, when dogs are often bred or raised in poor conditions, purely for profit, and with no thought to their care of welfare.

a dog being petted

Contacting the breeder

Do expect the breeder to ask you lots of questions when you call. Questions like: Where you live? If you have children? Do you work full time? About your family and how secure is your garden?

Don’t be scared off by this, this simply means the breeder wants to make absolutely sure that the puppy is going to live with good and caring owners and in a suitable environment. Indeed if the breeder does not ask you questions then this should raise alarm bells.

Do have a list of questions that you want to ask the breeder too.

Do trust your instincts. If something doesn’t sound right with a breeder and what they are advising you, don’t visit or part with any money. Call 0129 631 8540 or email hbs@thekennelclub.org.uk for any queries you may have.

Don’t part with any money until you have a Contract of Sale and understand exactly what the terms of sale are. Most breeders do not take deposits on puppies; they may not want to commit to letting you have a puppy until they have met you and similarly they would not want you to feel committed to buying a puppy until you have been to visit the puppy with its mother and litter. However if you are asked for a deposit then make sure you understand exactly what the terms of the deposit are and whether or not it is refundable and always ask for a receipt.

Don’t agree to meet the breeder away from where they live or where the puppies are reared. If the breeder wants to meet you at a neutral point, perhaps at a motorway service station then be prepared to say no, however plausible their reason may be.

a beagle on a leash looking up

Preparing for your visit: questions to ask when buying a puppy

We do recommend you contact a Kennel Club Assured Breeder. This is a voluntary scheme promoting good breeding practices, giving prospective owners the best opportunity to bring home a healthy well adjusted puppy.

First, a few tips before you meet the breeder:

Do ensure you know what health screening tests are recommended for your breed.

Do make sure you have done your homework and be prepared for a breeder to not choose you if they feel that you are not right for their puppy.

Do listen to the breeders’ advice; if they say that they feel the breed that you have chosen may not be right for you then you should seriously consider taking their advice. Breed clubs are good place to get information, even non recognised breeds may have clubs which you should be able to find using Google.
For more information, you can also download our Information Guides.

Ask the breeder:

To see the puppy with its mother and the rest of litter. This is very important because it will not only give you an opportunity to see the temperament of the mother, but will also give you an idea of the future characteristics and size of the puppy.

If you can handle the puppies. Most breeders will let you do this providing you are sitting quietly and they can be assured no harm can come to the puppy.

For a Contract of Sale – it is recommended that the breeder provides you with this. Amongst other things this should detail both the breeder(s)’ and your responsibilities to the puppy. Before or at the time of sale, you must give a signed acknowledgement of any endorsement (restrictions) that the breeder has placed on the puppy’s records

For written advice on training, feeding, exercise, worming and immunisation.

Which vaccinations your puppy has had and which ones are still required.

Whether the puppy has received any other treatments such as worming and flea control.

And don’t forget to:

Receive Kennel Club registration documents (if the puppy is Kennel Club registered), which must be signed on the back by your breeder. The registered ownership of your dog will remain in the breeders’ name until you register ownership of your puppy details here.

Ask for copies of any health certificates for the sire and dam. Just like humans, some breeds of dog can be affected by inherited conditions. There are canine health schemes, which aim to detect and monitor certain inherited conditions, and there is now an array of DNA testing schemes that assist breeders in making sensible breeding choices. It is important that you are aware of these conditions and know the right questions to ask of breeders before buying a puppy.

Be prepared to walk away. Unscrupulous breeders can rely on people feeling sorry for their puppies and feeling obliged to buy them. In the long term this encourages the bad breeder to simply breed more frequently and cause even more suffering.

Have the opportunity to see all the puppies, rather than just seeing the puppy being offered to you.

Important note

It is the responsibility of the breeder(s) to register the litter with the Kennel Club and each puppy in the litter will initially be registered in the name(s) of the breeder(s). The breeder(s) chooses the official Kennel Club names for all the puppies.

Under normal circumstances, litter registration with the Kennel Club takes about 14 days, after which time the breeder(s) will receive the registration certificates for all the puppies in the litter. If there is a query with the application the Kennel Club will contact the breeder to resolve and further action may be required which may delay the registration process).