As a puppy buyer there are certain steps that you can take to help ensure that the puppy is healthy and well adjusted. This starts at the point when you decide that you want a puppy and continues throughout the rest of its life. The Kennel Club cares as passionately about ensuring that you buy a happy, healthy puppy as you do and has outlined some simple steps that you can follow below.
What breed to buy There are no naturally unhealthy breeds – but there are breeds in which certain conditions tend to surface more. It will inevitably take time for these conditions to be eliminated but where there are known health problems, which can be tested for, the Kennel Club runs specific schemes aimed at the breeds concerned. Tests such as hip and elbow scoring enable potential owners to have a good idea about the future health of their puppy. Pedigree dogs also carry a breed standard which is an indication of their likely care needs. The following steps are important when choosing your preferred breed:
Firstly make sure that you can afford the purchase. A dog is not just a one-off expense and you need to make sure you can afford all of those other costs – such as food and Vets’ fees – that will be ongoing throughout its life
All pedigree dogs have a breed standard which describes the likely characteristics and temperament that the breed will display. Once you have a breed in mind that is suitable for you check out the Kennel Club breed standards and talk to the relevant breed club. You can also use the Kennel Club’s Find a Breed website, where you are able to answer questions about your lifestyle and preferences and find a breed that is a good fit for you
You can also find out more about the 210 different pedigree dogs registered by the Kennel Club at Discover Dogs, at Earls Court 1 on 12 - 13 November 2011. This event showcases every breed and is the perfect way to find out which breed would be right for you
Where to buy When sourcing a healthy puppy it is the breeder that is the most important consideration - buying a dog should not be done ‘on the cheap’ nor should it come from a disreputable source.
Unfortunately there are many breeders out there who keep their puppies and breeding bitches in appalling conditions and the then sell these via free ads in the newspapers, online or in pet shops. The puppy will probably end up suffering from health or behavioural problems and by buying from such people you are also helping them to continue trading.
Sadly, the techniques that irresponsible breeders are using to dupe puppy buyers are getting ever more sophisticated. They may operate through ‘dealers’ who show buyers the puppy in seemingly nice surroundings but who have nevertheless come from a cruel puppy farm.
Fortunately, there are steps that buyers can take to ensure that you source a responsible breeder, who will give you the best chance of getting a dog that will enjoy a happy and healthy life.
• Always buy a pedigree puppy from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder. This is different from people who have registered their dogs with the Kennel Club because it is the registration of the actual breeder, rather than their dog, and so they agree to follow certain conditions.
Members of this Scheme sign up to follow recommended breeding guidelines. They make use of health screening schemes, such as testing for hip problems and eye conditions, which will help owners to predict the future health of their puppy. They will ensure the puppy is seen with its mother, to give an indication of how the puppy is likely to turn out. They will also give new owners written information regarding the socialisation and training of the puppy and will be there as a point of contact throughout the puppy’s life to ensure that the dog and owner have a happy and fulfilling relationship.
• Ask to see the puppy’s mother, which should be present.
• See the puppies in their breeding environment and ask to look at the kenneling conditions, if they were not raised within the breeder’s house. If you suspect the conditions are not right, then do not buy the puppy.
• Be prepared to be put on a waiting list – a healthy puppy is well-worth waiting for.
• Ask if you can return the puppy if things don’t work out. Reputable breeders will always say yes.
• Be careful if a breeder is selling more than one or a maximum of two breeds, unless you are sure of their credentials.
• If there are required or recommended health tests for your breed then ask to see the health certificates of the parents before you buy
Ensuring the good health of your puppy is ongoing through its whole life so there are also steps that you, as the owner, can take to ensure that the health and welfare of ALL dogs is protected throughout their lives.
Training - A well trained dog is a happy dog and it needs to be taught boundaries in order to ensure that it is a well behaved dog citizen and that you are fulfilling your duties as a responsible dog owner. The Kennel Club organises the Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme, which is the largest dog training scheme in the UK
Exercise and attention - Your puppy will need regular short exercise and you will need to be prepared to clean up after it on walks. Every dog needs care and attention but some need human company more than others – if you are out at work and can’t take the dog with you, consider whether a dog is for you, as it may be unfair for it to be left alone all. This is why choosing the right breed for you at the outset it so important!
• Buy a puppy from a pet shop – these have often come from puppy farms.
• Pick your puppy up from a ‘neutral location’ such as a car park or motorway service station. This is a common tactic used by puppy farm dealers.
• Buy a puppy because you feel like you’re rescuing it. You’ll only be making space available for another poorly pup to fill.
Donate to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which supports science and research projects to improve dog health and supports dog welfare charities. < a href="http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/charitabletrust">Click here to find out more about the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and how to donate.