Choosing a Puppy

Once you have made a decision to buy a puppy, you need to decide which breed is best for you and, if relevant, your family. It is important that the whole family are keen on the idea of welcoming a new family member. Otherwise friction and resentment toward the puppy may occur.

All breeds are different. If you have young children it is best to avoid breeds that have a dominating nature or can become nervous around boisterous play. A puppy from a good working strain may get easily bored (and therefore destructive) if you are just looking for a pet. Breeds with a strong hunting instinct must be contained and kept on a lead when out walking. The list goes on.

With so many breeds to choose from, where do you start The points to take into consideration are:

  • Size of the adult dog
  • Space
  • Children
  • Other dogs and pets
  • Location
  • Life expectancy - this sounds strange, but some dogs can live to be twenty years old and that's a long commitment.

When you have decided on the breed that is most suited to you, you will need to find a breeder. Depending on the popularity of the breed you have chosen you may have to wait for puppies, or more popular breeds may be readily available. Go to our Find a Puppy page for a list of puppies for sale.

When you have found a suitable litter, you need to ask the breeder some questions:

  • Can I see the one or both of the parents

If the answer to this is 'no'. Then steer clear. The puppies will be too young to leave their mother, so why isn't she available to see. Meeting the parents is important to get an idea of temperament and health.

  • What were the eye and hip scores of the parents

This is very important because eye and hip problems are hereditary. Not all breeds require testing.

  • Has any training begun, i.e. Toilet training

This isn't a priority, but if some training has commenced, you will need to know what commands the breeder has been using, and when, so that training may continue in the same manner.

  • How much socialising has the puppy experienced

Socialising is recommended to begin at around three or four weeks old. If left too late some of the quieter breeds may become nervous around strangers, children and other animals. Whereas some of the not so quieter breeds can become aggressive.

You also need to ask yourself some questions:

  • Is the puppy healthy

The puppies coat should be shiny and it's eyes should be bright and clear. A healthy puppy will be very active.

  • Has it been cared for

Have a look at the environment the puppy has been living in. Is it clean Does it have all the requirements that a puppy needs, i.e. fresh water, heat and light

The breeder should volunteer all this information, and more. Make sure you are happy with the puppy, the parents, the environment and the breeder.

Never choose the puppy that is cowering in the corner. Similarly, don't choose the dominant one if you have young children. You need to study the puppies and choose one that is active and friendly, with a good character. Quite often when choosing a puppy, there is one in particular that will stand out to you.

Most breeders will want a deposit, usually about 20% of the price of the puppy. Be wary of any breeder that wants payment in full before you pick the puppy up. There is a chance you may never see the puppy, or your money, again!

After selecting the puppy you want handle it as much as possible and visit it at least three times to get it used to you, as well as you to it! It is a good idea to leave a small blanket or old item of clothing with the puppy. It will pick up the smells of the litter, which will make your puppy more at ease when you take him home. Make sure the breeder marks the puppy in such a way that you know which one is yours. Take some pictures of the puppy and give it a name. The breeder can start using the name to get the puppy accustomed to hearing it.

Finally, when your chosen puppy is seven or so weeks old, it is time to bring it home.