what measures can you take to ensure the pup is happy and healthy?
Here are a few sensible rules to bear in mind:
Firstly, consider carefully Do you have the time, the space, the common sense or experience- and the cash for a dog? For around 12 years, give or take?
Puppies are a lot of work in the beginning- but you get back a thousand or more times what you put in.
Looking for breeders
* Don’t buy a pup from a pet shop or from a market- you cannot check the quality of the breeder and you can’t tell what happens to the pup when the shop’s day is over.
* Do some homework- check out the Kennel Club (KC) or maybe a local breed club who often have a list of breeders. Get an idea of average price you would expect to pay.
* Google search the kennel name and breeders if you see one you like.
Kennel Club registry/ pedigree papers– there are pros and cons to KC registry- there’s rules to safeguard heath- breed specific tests for the parents and rules about how many litters a mother can have, plus you know exactly your puppy’s family tree, useful for ensuring good genetic diversity. Just as there can be KC registered puppy farmers, there are good breeders who do not have KC registered dogs. With designer breeds, read up. A KC registered labrador can be cheaper than a non-registered cockerpoo. Check that you are not paying a huge amount of money for a fancy-named mongrel whose parents haven’t had any health checks. (Hip scoring is a scheme run by the KC and can only be done on pedigree dogs).
* Assured Breeder Scheme. We are members of the Assured breeder scheme. When we applied we were astonished- other than the obvious health tests, we were not asked any questions. It’s taken 3 years, but we now have been inspected (and passed). I am really glad that everyone is getting inspected and have more faith and confidence in the scheme.
* What are endorsements? It’s about rules concerning any future breeding of the puppy. If you wish to breed from your dog and register their puppies with the KC, then you will probably have to pass (breed-specific) health checks. Others are rules concerning whether they can register any future litters outside the country- things to consider are climate suitability, disease susceptibility and whether you are able to support future owners for the whole lifetime of the dog.
Contacting the breeder
* Be prepared to be questioned- a responsible breeder will want to know if you have the common sense, experience, space, time and finances to support your new family member.
* If you find a breeder you think is suitable from the internet or through a newspaper ad, ask to visit the pup.
* Don’t agree to let the person drop the pup off at your house or meet you in a car park.
* How many litters has Mum had? KC rules state that mums can have 4 litters between the ages of 2 and 8.
I find breeding as tiring as it is rewarding- you’re up many times in the night, the house must be kept extra clean and tidy and (after 4 weeks) visitors are encouraged daily to help with socialisation, so the kettle is put on overtime!
* Ask what food the pup is receiving. There is little financial gain in breeding if done properly- a good breeder will not be stingy. Mince, tripe, chicken, veg and fruit or quality food like Orijen, which is 80% protein.
* Will the pup have any parvo jabs? Any worming? What about fleas? Any vet checks? Micro-chipping?
* Will the pup be well socialised- how many different people will see and handle the pup before they leave? Will they be accustomed to uniformed people, children and people of different ethnicities?
* Are they getting used to normal household noises (radio, television, hoovers, washing machines)?
* Is the pup getting paper trained?
* A good breeder should be happy to give you references from previous customers
Visiting the pup
* It will be exciting to see the puppy, bring a friend along with you if you think you could get carried away. A cool head is needed to assess the breeder and good breeder will tell you a lot of important information that you will need to remember.
* Ask to see at least one of the puppy’s parents (the mum should be with the pups, but the father could have been a stud dog, so may not be there).
* Ask to see where the puppies and dams (mums) are kept. Look for cleanliness and safety (for example, how often is the pen cleaned and are they checking the masking tape over any electrical wires regularly?)
* If you feel sorry for the pup, don’t buy them, and
* Don’t be afraid to report any misgivings or suspicions of abuse. Remember until you have paid a deposit, you are under no obligation.
* Check any paperwork thoroughly, ask to see pedigrees of parents, if appropriate.
* A deposit is the usual way to secure a pup. Expect a receipt.
* If you want to pick the Kennel Club name for your pup, tell your breeder in plenty of time so that the paperwork can be ready.
* Not many breeders will let you visit your pup before you take them home, but it is always worth asking.
Picking up your dog
* Consider and prepare for the journey home.
* There will be a good deal of information to take in and with a pedigree dog, there is quite a bit of paperwork that you will need to go through. You may need your cool-headed friend (with a good memory) to accompany you again.
* If you are paying pedigree prices for your pup, don’t take the dog until you have received your pup’s legitimate KC number and/ or the appropriate paperwork.
* Read the contract carefully.
* Check the terms and conditions of any free insurance.
* Aftercare: a good breeder would be happy to answer any reasonable questions you may have once you get home, don’t be afraid to ring or text if you have any concerns.
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