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Before You Buy A Puppy

Before the family become too excited about the idea of getting a puppy, it’s important to think rationally about the prospect and ask yourself a few key questions:

  1. Is every member of the family keen to get a puppy?  If one or more are against a pet, then bringing an animal into that environment can cause considerable stress.

  2. Have you considered the financial implications? You must take into account not only the initial cost of purchasing the dog, but also the ongoing expenses such as food, veterinary fees and canine insurance. A dog has the potential to cost £25 or more a week. Unfortunately, it is extremely likely that you will need to have to take your pet to the vet in an emergency at least once during their lifetime, and you need to be able to cover the costs for this as well.  

  3. Can you make a lifelong commitment to a dog? One of the most important things to remember is that a dog will usually live for 10-15 years. Having a pet is extremely rewarding but it is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

  4. What sort of house do you live in? How much space is there? Is there a back lawn? Is it on a quiet street or busy road? How much time can you put aside to walk a dog? This should influence your decision on how big or active a dog would be suitable. You need to also take into consideration your health, age, and overall time constraints. Some dogs demand and require almost constant attention, lots of exercise and mental stimulation. You must research which dog will suit your family’s outlook and lifestyle.  There is lots of information available on both the Internet and in books about the different breeds so there is no excuse not the fully research the breeds available.  For example, choosing a Border Collie or Springer Spaniel type dog if you live in a flat would be asking for trouble and would most probably lead to serious behavioural difficulties. Your local vet or vet nurse will be more than happy to help advise you on the best dog for your situation.

  5. Pure breed or Crossbreed?  Only you can answer this question.  When buying a purebred dog it is easier to know ‘what you are getting’ in terms of the size the puppy will grow into and how it will look.  However, the fact that dogs are purebred can lead to potential problems – for example, pure bred dogs often have associated hereditary problems that are less common in a mixed breed dog.  Contacting a breed society or the Kennel Club can help inform you of the possible conditions a certain breed is susceptible to.

  6. Where should I get my new puppy from?

    1. Rescue Centre/Charity: In many people’s opinion, rescue centres are the best option. You are taking in an animal that might otherwise live their whole life in a cage, or possibly even be put to sleep. Staff at rescue centres make sure that the animals they take in only go to homes once they have been thoroughly vetted, neutered, and treated for parasites.

    2. Breeder: If you decide to buy from a breeder, it is very important that they let you visit their home before you purchase the animal. You need to check that the surroundings are clean, and the animals are socialised with the family, and are not kept locked away in cages. Ask for worming, flea treatment, microchip, and vaccination records. For pedigree dogs, the breeder should be registered with the kennel club, and all breed-related diseases should have been screened for and should be negative. You should not take a puppy away from their mothers before they are 10-12 weeks old. Any earlier is too soon for a puppy to be weaned, and can lead to a socially ill-adjusted pet.

    3. Pet Shop: Pet shops in general are a gamble – it is usually impossible to find out where the puppies or kittens have come from, if there are any behavioural or physical problems with the parents, or if any health treatments have been done.

Once you have decided on the best breed for you, or whether you have decided to go for a mixed breed, stick to your plans and be patient.  The right dog will turn up so don’t be swayed by others that you may find while looking for ‘the one’.