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What should I look for in a breeder?

Posted on 5th May 2020

Small puppy wrapped up in blankets on owners lap in the car

Is this the time to add a puppy to your family? It can be difficult to know where to start when finding a reputable breeder.

Is this the time to add a puppy to your family? It can be difficult to know where to start when finding a reputable breeder. There are a number of factors to consider when searching. Worldwide, breeders have a mixed reputation, but with this guide you’ll have a checklist to ensure you choose a healthy puppy from a trusted breeder, giving your puppy the best start to life.

Why your puppy’s family tree is important

Doing your research is the first vital step in raising a great puppy. Breeders come in all shapes and sizes, good and bad. I would recommend a breeder who is only breeding one litter at a time and only breeds one breed of dog.

They should be able to give you a family tree for your puppy and describe the traits and characteristics of the line. Histories are important in the behaviours you are going to see in your puppy. Nervousness and reactivity should NEVER play a role. Please ask for a family tree document as recommended by the Kennel Club Assured Breeders Scheme.

Knowing whether your Cockapoo has working or show Cocker in them could be the difference between you owning a whirlwind or a couch potato

Your puppys’ genes

All breeders have a duty to test for genetic diseases prevalent in your particular breed and should give you papers of proof.

Examples include hip and elbow problems, heart conditions and eye problems.

See our blog on genetic testing here

How the puppies are raised

We know that the most important time for socialisation and habituation is before you even bring your puppy home so this means that this needs to start at the breeders. Here are some of the things you should look for your breeder to be doing

– introducing household sounds
– introducing other animals
– introducing people
– sitting in the car
– introducing surfaces, textures and heights
– toilet training
– handling and grooming
– stress immunisation (a daily brief amount of time on their own)
– feeding the puppies separately to monitor eating amounts and toileting
– microchipping
– vet visit for first vaccinations

You will be able to view the general set up when you view the litter, please visit more than once. Ask for regular photos and videos so you can see how the puppies are being brought up.

Questions you should ask your breeder and vice versa

You will have a lot of questions for your breeder but they should have as many questions from you. A good breeder will check out everyone who wants a puppy as they will care about where their puppies go. They should ask you questions about
– space and accommodation
– finances and insurance
– experience and ongoing plans
– intention to breed (a good breeder will ask you to sign to say you won’t breed)
– time and jobs
– other dogs/animals
Be prepared to answer questions like this and to share your plans for bringing your puppy home. Alarm bells should sound if the breeder does not ask you anything, please consider walking away if they are not concerned where the puppies lifetime homes are going to be.

Legal requirements of buying a puppy

There are legal requirements of a breeder as well as some things you should check to protect yourself:

  • All puppies (unless too tiny breeds) must be microchipped before leaving to live with you
  • All puppies should have received their first set of vaccinations and been seen by a vet

If your puppy does not have the above, please walk away

To protect yourself, also look for the following:

– proof of breeding – a family tree

– insurance

– details of feeding, toileting and medical interventions (worming and flea treatments)

– signature to say you will not breed

– signature to say they will take the puppy back for life should your circumstances change

– ongoing contact details (some will change phone numbers once the puppies have gone)

– recommendations and testimonials

– putting you in contact with people who have puppies from previous litters

– seeing both Dam and Sire

– details of how puppies were weaned

– information on how they have socialised, trained and brought up the puppies

There are still lots of puppy farms around

As a rule of thumb, if you do not feel welcome and a new member of the family or you feel sorry for the puppies, please walk away and stop these people from breeding again

We strongly suggest you keep a copy of this guide on you when you go to meet your breeder and view the puppies. For convenience we’ve created a downloadable version of this for you here

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