Posted on November 30, 2015 by Admin under Buying a puppy, Dog Health
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You may wonder why, in December, I am writing an article about responsible puppy purchasing and the answer is that it’s because no respectable breeder would allow puppies to go to their new homes over the Christmas period, but sadly many do.

If you read nothing else in this article then please at least look at:

  • PUPPY CONTRACT :   The contract has been created by the British Veterinary Association, the Animal Welfare Foundation and the RSPCA and can be taken with you when you view litters of puppies to help you ask the right questions about your puppy.
  • Article from DEFRA :  This has important information on how to find the right breeder of your puppy (or kitten) and has several links to further guidance on how to buy from a responsible and caring breeder.


  • A puppy really is for life, not just for Christmas. A cliché, but so true.
  • Sometimes a Christmas puppy may seem like a good present for yourselves or for your children but if done with little or no research then it is very likely to be a disaster.
  • There is just too much going on in the household to be able to supervise your new puppy properly. Apart from a lack of time to supervise such things as house training, you will also have the extra work of ensuring puppies do not eat Christmas baubles, poisonous Christmas foods, etc.
  • Christmas is not the best time to set a suitable daily routine for your puppy which is essential for him to feel secure and settle in quickly to your home.
  • With even the best intentions of starting off well, it is very difficult when you have a house full of visitors and children – there are just too many people to spoil the puppy and break the rules.
  • The puppy may get used to too much attention and then be a problem when the holidays are over and he is required to spend time alone or with less attention.
  • Or you may get cross with your puppy under the stress of the Christmas festivities and so your puppy may have a very unhappy start to his new life.
  • Puppies need peace and rest. Christmas is just not the time for this, with too much excitement and lots of cuddling and attention from both adults and children.



  • Unscrupulous breeders will be delighted at people wanting to purchase a quick prezzie because they know that many such buyers will very likely may be ignorant of the facts behind puppy farmed dogs and unaware of the pitfalls of not spending time finding a reputable and caring breeder.
  • Apart from the abundance of UK farmed puppies, please be aware of illegally imported puppy-farmed puppies which are brought into the UK especially for the Christmas season. See the article from The Dogs Trust which outlines the cruelty, dishonesty and health implications for both the puppies and dangers to people.
  • The main health risk to people buying illegally imported puppies is from a tapeworm which is found only outside of the UK which is very harmful to dogs and humans. The other risks are a lack of  general health and hygiene, being imported without vaccinations, mental and physical health problems and even the risk of buying a puppy with rabies.
  • As mentioned above, there are many puppy farmed dogs born in the UK and, if you care at all about the welfare of dogs, you should ideally buy your pedigree dog through a Kennel Club Assured Breeder who has carried out all the necessary breed health checks and carefully selected your puppy’s parents for temperament and suitability as a pet dog. They should be able to provide the proof of such physical health checks and you must at least see the mother to check her temperament and, ideally, also meet the father.
  • If you are buying from a non Kennel Club Assured Breeder, you will still need evidence of the items listed in the PUPPY CONTRACT, as mentioned above.
  • With regard to Kennel Club Assured Breeders, please be aware that there are Kennel Club breeders and Kennel Club Assured Breeders.
  • Anyone can become a KC registered breeder so long as they use KC registered parents for their litters.
  • Being a KC breeder does not mean that they have the necessary knowledge of the breed, or how to select the parents for health and temperament or of how to care for the mother, or of how to correctly raise puppies.
  • In general, a Kennel Club Assured breeder should be more knowledgeable and responsible but you still need to look at the contract and do some more homework so you are sure of what you expect and of what questions you want answered.
  • If you are buying a cross breed (Labradoodle, Cockerpoo, Cavachon, etc, etc), these are also often puppy-farmed and whilst the Kennel Club received very bad press (and quite rightly) about the health issues in pedigree breeds, cross breeds can also have many genetically inherited health issues, as well as temperament problems. Again, if the breeder cannot, or will not, provide you with all the information required in the contract, then walk away – they are in it for the money.
  • Be aware that many puppy farmed animals are sold as though they have been home-bred so you need to take the copy of the contract with you when you go to visit potential breeders. A caring breeder will be delighted that you have taken the trouble to do this (or more likely will have a contract anyway) – whereas a breeder who is in it for the money will not be so thrilled at having to spend time completing the details and signing the contract.
  • You should of course always see the puppy with the mother and siblings so that you can check she is really the mother (her teats will be enlarged due to having fed the puppies) and if they are very young she will be feeding them still. You also need to check her temperament as the way she behaves will affect your puppy’s current and future behaviour. You also of course need to check that the puppies are healthy and clean and kept in good condition and that they seem of kind and confident temperament with each other and with people.
  • As stated previously, you should always be given a puppy contract. This lays out the legal contract with responsibilities for both seller and buyer. One of the important aspects of this, I think, is that in the contract, the buyer has to agree to contacting the breeder for advice if they ever have to re-home the dog at any stage. I think any caring breeder would wish for the right to have any unwanted puppy back to re-home or at least to be made aware and be involved in the rehoming process. Responsible breeders have the time, knowledge and compassion to help with this.

Please remember that if you buy a poorly bred puppy you are giving money to a cruel trade where the puppies parents are kept in appalling conditions and used as breeding machines before being discarded or killed when their breeding life is over – not a very nice thought each time you look at your new puppy.



You could consider going to a reputable rehoming centre and offering a forever home to a dog in need.

Always ask what temperament testing the centre has done with their dogs and ask for evidence of this so that you can be sure to take home the right dog for you, your family and your lifestyle.

Battersea and Dogs Trust are both reputable centres but you may have a smaller centre near you.  Just be sure that the staff are able to tell you about what temperament tests they have carried out, typically:-

  • Is the dog good with people (men, women, teenagers, children).
  • Is the dog good with other dogs (if not, which ones is there a problem with)
  • Is the dog happy for people to approach when he is eating (if not, which items cause the problem)
  • Is the dog happy to play with an item without becoming possessive over it (if not, which items may cause a problem)

Please note that tests above are NOT just because you are taking on a rescue dog; these are all things I check whenever I am working with clients and their puppies or older dogs. 

Most rescue dogs are looking for a home due to their bad luck, rather than any serious behavioural issue.

Please be responsible in finding your new puppy or older dog and you will be rewarded with having a wonderful, healthy and well-adjusted new friend for life.

Sally Bartlett
Co-operative Canines Dog Training and Behaviour

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