Welcoming a puppy into your world is one of the most exciting, joyful (and challenging!) times of your life. But before you get carried away with planning your first pet friendly holiday or buying designer gear for your pup, there are some serious things to consider.
Choosing the right dog breed for you and your lifestyle will be a deciding factor in how happy and harmonious life with your pup will be. If you have decided you will get your puppy from a breeder, there are also some vital things you need to know before committing to your new fur-ever friend.
New statistics from the British Veterinary Association show that most of the puppy problems vets saw last year as a result of poor purchasing decisions were related to owners choosing a breed without sufficient understanding of its needs or its suitability to their household or lifestyle.
Almost one-third of vets noted seeing puppies with congenital and conformation problems, such as trouble breathing due to flat faces, and more than one in five saw dogs that were not suited to their environment, which often led to behavioural issues.
So, how can you choose the right dog breed for you? And how can you be sure your that your dog has come from a responsible puppy breeder? The Puppy Contract is a free, one-stop guide developed and supported by leading UK animal welfare charities. It gives prospective puppy owners all the information they need at their fingertips, including all the right questions to ask the breeder about important aspects of the puppy’s care, such as socialisation, vaccination, microchipping and health tests.
Here are the important questions you should ask a puppy breeder before making your big decision:
- Did you breed the puppies?
If the answer is ‘no’, walk away regardless of the answers to the other questions. A seller who hasn’t bred or reared the puppy won’t be able to give an accurate picture of the puppy’s medical and socialisation history. More importantly, puppies from puppy farms are often sold via third-party sellers. Always buy a puppy directly from the breeder.
2. Where are the puppies kept? Have you started to house train and socialise the puppy?
It’s important to know if the puppy has had lots of human interaction or only at particular times, such as during playtime and feeding. If puppies are not kept in a home environment, they will have reduced human contact and they may have socialisation issues or trouble adjusting to life in a home. Ask to see it socialise with its mother and littermates. It is also a good idea to visit the puppy more than once to help you identify potential problems more easily.
3. Were both the puppy’s parents screened for inherited diseases that can be tested in that breed?
All dogs, whether pedigree or crossbred, can suffer from inherited diseases which are passed on from parent to puppy. Health testing and screening, such as the BVA/The Kennel Club Canine Health Schemes, allow breeders to screen for inherited diseases, and the results can then be used to help ensure that only healthy dogs are bred from. Ask for health screening certificates and run the results past a vet to make sure the breeder has interpreted the results correctly.
4. Will the puppy be microchipped and given its first vaccinations prior to homing?
Puppies must be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks old, and before they go to their new home. The breeder should supply you with microchip paperwork which includes your puppy’s individual identification number and database they are registered with. Vaccination records should be stamped by a veterinary practice and signed by a veterinary surgeon.
5. Has the puppy or its parents had any health problems?
It’s important to be aware of any health problems the puppy or its parents have had as they could have been passed on to your puppy. Many puppies don’t need to see a vet before they leave their breeder. If your puppy has been checked or received any treatment, the breeder should provide details of anything abnormal that the vet noted. Talk to your vet if you are unsure about any of the information provided.
6. Has the breeder used any routine veterinary treatments for the puppies, such as wormers?
Regular worming is important for the health of puppies and humans. Ask your vet about the products mentioned and avoid buying from breeders who have not treated their dogs for worms at all.
Have you recently become a new puppy parent or are you planning to? Tell us in the comments below.