Getting a new puppy is really exciting but doing your research beforehand is really important to avoid heartbreak for yourself and your new pet. Illegal breeding and importation of puppies in particular is becoming a huge problem causing health and welfare problems for the puppies themselves and also the wider population with the potential for diseases such as rabies. To have the best chance of getting a healthy, happy puppy always do the following:
- Make sure the breed is suitable for your lifestyle
- If getting a pedigree puppy, make sure they are registered with the Kennel Club (this is not a guarantee of good welfare but they should at least have been bred in the UK)
- Make sure the parents and puppies have had any relevant health tests for the breed (or both breeds in the case of cross-breeds). See the Kennel Club website for further information.
- Always see a puppy interacting with its mother and the rest of the litter.
- Ideally visit a puppy a couple of times before you take it home
- Do not buy from a breeder who has more than two breeds available
- Make sure the puppy is microchipped with the breeder’s details (this is a legal requirement)
- See what the mother’s temperament is. If she is nervous or aggressive, it is likely that the puppies will be as well
- Don’t be forced into making a rushed decision
Finally, if you are concerned about the welfare of any puppies that you visit DO NOT part with any cash. You are not rescuing them, you are perpetuating the trade. Instead, walk away and contact the RSPCA and Trading Standards with your concerns.