Deciding to buy a puppy is an enormous decision. There are many questions to take into consideration – from how to finance food and vet’s bills, to who will take them for walks. However, if you’ve decided that you’re ready to take that step, how do you decide which pup will be best for you and your family?
Which Breed is Best?
There are over 400 different dog breeds in the world, so this isn’t an easy decision! All breeds have been bred for a specific function in the past, whether that’s hunting, herding, protection, or even pulling sleds. Their jobs may be redundant in a modern home, but they will keep their basic characteristics and temperament.
Pick a few breeds you prefer and look into their exercise and grooming needs, as well as their overall temperament and trainability. Research online or talk to experts on those breeds at dog shows or breeders’ clubs. Find out about local breeders and ask if you and your family can spend some time with their dogs – a reputable breeder will be happy for you to do this.
If you can’t decide, there are Breed Selector tools online that can help. Try the Kennel Club ‘Find a Breed’.
Pure Breed or Mixed Breed?
If you buy from a breeder, you’ll buy into the puppy’s genetic lineage and know exactly where it came from. A mongrel isn’t quite so predictable. On the other hand, mixed-breed dogs are sometimes said to be more robust than pure bred dogs because of their wider gene pool.
Finding the Perfect Breeder
Look for a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, who will have agreed to follow breeding guidelines. A Kennel Club breeder should screen dogs for health problems, ensure you get to see them with their mother, answer any questions you have, and be happy to stay in contact with you throughout the dog’s life.
It’s a good idea to visit the breed clubs of the type of dog you are looking for, because they should know of good breeders and also those to avoid. Find a Breed Club.
Never, ever buy from a puppy farm. Puppy farmed dogs are often unhealthy, badly fed, and not well cared-for. They can have socialisation problems too.
Don’t buy a puppy from a pet shop either – some shops source their pups from farms.
Finding the Perfect Pup
The puppy for you might not necessarily be the cute bundle that comes bouncing straight over to you. The most dominant pup will push his siblings out of the way, and will want to enforce his dominance at home with you, too!
The same applies to the puppy cowering in the corner. You might feel sorry for her, but most aggression in dogs comes from fear, and you don’t want a permanently frightened pet.
- Watch the litter without disturbing them, to see how the pups interact with each other.
- Look for a confident puppy who comes to say hello with his tail wagging in excitement.
- Have a close look at him – check for bright eyes, shiny fur and no sign of any infections.
- Test his hearing – wait until the pup you like the look of is facing the other way and then make a noise. The puppy should react, even jump a bit, and then come over to investigate.
- Pick the puppy up to see if he reacts by squealing and wriggling or won’t settle. A little struggle is fine, but a happy-go-lucky dog will calm down quickly.
If you have an Android or iPhone, you can download a FREE Kennel Club Puppy Buying Guide which is packed with helpful information, tips, and a checklist to help you decide.
What about Rescue Puppies?
Rescue centres often have puppies in need of adopting, and there are even rescue organisations that specialise in particular breeds. Rescue centre pups aren’t as predictable as pedigrees, and can be insecure, but could still be a loving pet for you and your family.
Try the RSPCA Pet Search, which allows you to search for puppies and breeds in your area.
Michael Palmer is writing on behalf of MORE TH>N dog insurance, which offers pet lovers the reassurance they need to care for their pet. These are his own thoughts and do not represent the views of MORE TH>N.
Image of puppy from Wikimedia Commons