The first step in selecting a puppy is working out the right breed for you. There are some good websites out there that ask you a list of questions and bring up a list of 4-5 breeds that may suit your requirements/wants. Things such as, how often do you want to groom your dog, how much do you want to spend on feeding, how much exercise will you give your dog, will the dog live with kids and how much are you willing to spend in a year? Once you have selected your breed you will need to work through the points below.
Choosing a dog breeder
Choosing the right place to purchase your puppy from is the next step once you have picked a breed. You may wish to purchase your puppy from a from rescue organisations such as the Animal Welfare League or the RSPCA. If you are looking at purchasing a puppy from a breeder, making sure they are a registered breeder is very important. Why? because these breeders have usually taken ‘best practice’ steps to ensure your puppy is healthy and less likely to have genetic problems. Purchasing puppies from ‘back yard’ breeders encourages them to continue breeding. There are so many unwanted dogs in the world and dogs with genetic problems that could be easily avoided. A breed club can be a good place to find registered breeders for a particular breed, otherwise website such as “dogzonline” have a breakdown of breeds and their breeders.
Questions to ask a dog breeder
- Where will the litter be raised? Puppies raised in a family household will be better socialised than those reared in kennels or a barn.
- What support do you provide? Responsible breeders usually offer advice and support for the dogs entire life.
- Are your dogs tested for any genetic health problems? e.g. hip & elbow scoring(dysplasia), blood testing? This can be more important for some breeds over others.
- Are we able to meet both the parents? – this is important as puppies can learn behavioural problems from their parents. Also the parents can be a good indication to what size dog you will end up with and if the parents look nice and healthy then you are more likely to be purchasing a healthy dog.
- Have the puppies been check over by the vet? Has the puppies vaccinations been started? Have the puppies been microchipped and are they up to date with preventives?
- What food are the puppies currently being feed? Puppies can sometimes have very sensitive stomachs and if you plan to change the puppies diet it can be beneficial to do it gradually over 5-7 days.
Don’t be surprised if the breeder asks you just as many questions as you ask them. This is a very good sign and shows they only want the best homes for their puppies.
Choosing your puppy
- You usually meet the puppy for the first time at around or after six weeks of age. At this age, puppies should be playful and interested in their environment.
- Be aware that puppies that are nervous, withdrawn or overly excitable will likely need more training and socialisation.
- Puppy health is extremely important. Look for clean eyes, ears, nose, backside and coat. Watch for puppies with a potbelly as they may have worms
- Remember that ‘cute’ deformity may cost you a lot during your dogs life
- Check for swelling of the bellybutton – this is the sign of an umbilical hernia. This condition requires surgical intervention and can be done with their desexing procedure. It isn’t necessarily a reason not to get the puppy. Just be prepared to spend more money to correct the hernia. Some breeders may offer discount off purchase price to compensate.
- Jaw composition. Look at the puppies mouth shape. If the top jaw sticks out way past the bottom jaw or visa versa, this puppy may not be the best option for you. You may be selecting a breed that doesn’t have ‘ideal’ jaw composition such as a pug. That’s ok but make sure your dogs mouth looks ‘normal’ for this breed. If purchasing a dog that does not have that ‘ideal’ jaw composition please be prepared to spend a bit of money throughout your pets life on dental work.
Also, check out our ‘Puppy Checklist’ to ensure you have everything you need before you bring your puppy home!