Getting a puppy is a really exciting experience. They are really cute and lovable companions that will change your life forever, but prospective pet owners need to be properly prepared as they are taking on a huge responsibility. There are a huge number of factors to consider before getting a puppy, so we have tried to summarise some of these important considerations and put together this useful guide for new owners which includes answers to the questions, What is the right puppy for me? Where to get a puppy? and How will getting a puppy change my life?
Do you have enough time for a puppy? Can you commit to this long term? Especially when they are young, puppies need your constant attention and training every day to ensure they grow into happy and confident adults. You’ll need to look after your new puppy for the rest of their lives, so if you’re planning any big lifestyle changes, make sure you’ll be able to accommodate a dog too.
When considering getting a puppy, you must first ask yourself if your home has the space needed for a fully grown dog. This can play an important factor in deciding the size of the dog.
Always make sure you research any pet thoroughly before getting them. Every breed has different characteristics, so make sure to choose the right dog for you and your family. In addition, it is really important to research where you are getting them from and to choose the best breeder.
A new member in the family means more costs for you. Have you budgeted to make sure you can afford all the costs associated with getting a puppy? You’ll need to consider food, insurance, vet bills and ongoing costs (like buying leads, toys and poo bags).
One of the most common questions asked is- how do I choose the right breed for me?
We’d recommend doing lots of research to find out as much as possible about the breeds that you are considering. There are lots of tools available online that can help you figure out which breed is a good match for you.
Here are a couple that you might find useful:
The Kennel Club is also a very useful resource for pure breeds.
Some Considerations to Bear In Mind Include:
- How much time do you have for exercise?
- How active are you?
- How tolerant are you of fur?
- How experienced are you as a dog owner?
- How much training would you like to provide?
- What size dog would you like - toy, medium, large or giant?
It is also important to be conscious of any health-related breed problems, such as:
- Arthritis - German shepherds, Labradors, Rottweilers (see BVA health schemes pages for more details)
- Back problems- Dachshunds
- Breathing problems- brachycephalic breeds (short nosed dogs such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers)
- Heart problems- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, giant breeds, Dobermans
- Predisposition to tumours- Boxers
Pure Breed, Crossbreed or Rescue Dog?
Be sure to ask around and to ask lots of questions beforehand.
If you are looking to get a pure breed, the Kennel Club is a useful resource of information and even offers lists of Kennel Club Assured Breeders. If you are planning on getting a crossbreed or a rescue dog, there are lots of reputable rescue centres that can offer advice (e.g. Battersea Dogs Home, Dogs Trust and the RSPCA). Getting a crossbreed or a rescue puppy or dog from one of these reliable centres, means giving a dog a great home, which is something you might want to consider. You’ll often be required to visit multiple times before taking your new friend home from a rescue centre. This offers a fantastic opportunity to get to know the dog and also for the dog to get to know you. You can ask lots of questions about them and find out more about their personality during your visits.
We wouldn’t generally recommend getting a dog from Internet forums such as Gumtree. The reason for this, is that you don’t always get to meet the breeder and the dogs are sometimes handed over in strange circumstances. If you are considering doing so, please be extremely cautious and make sure that you are dealing with a genuine and trustworthy breeder. It’s great if you can meet both the mum and the dad if possible, as well as the other pups, as this is really useful. You’ll get an idea of what the parents are like and their temperament.
Make sure you go to the premises where the puppies are, so that you can visit them in their current home environment in person. Check out the breeder’s website too to get a feel for them. Do they have lots of information for new owners? Are they accommodating? Are they happy to have you meet the mum and dad? It’s vital that you have confidence in the legitimacy of your chosen breeder.
Lucy’s Law was introduced in April 2020, making it illegal for pet shops and third-party breeders to sell puppies under six months old. This law states that anyone wanting to buy a puppy, must now buy directly from a breeder or adopt from a rescue centre. Licensed dog breeders are required to show puppies interacting with their mothers, so make sure you ask the breeder to do so and make the most of the opportunity to visit. Be extremely careful that you are not getting your puppy from a puppy farm. Often puppy farms treat the dogs as breeding machines, so you should be very conscious of that. Trust your feelings and make sure that you feel comfortable when you visit the premises and communicate with the breeder.
Finally here are some tips to bear in mind when getting a puppy:
- Be very cautious if buying a puppy on the internet
- Visit the premises
- Meet the mum (and dad if possible)
- Don't buy a puppy from a puppy farm
- Make sure you meet the breeders
Top Tip: It is useful to visit your pup when they are still with their mother. This is such a beneficial experience as you’ll be able to see the surroundings and have the chance to discuss plans with the breeder and ensure a smooth handover process.