Why is it important to buy from a good source?
Getting a puppy or dog from a responsible source both maximises your chance of getting a happy, healthy dog and prevents you from inadvertently funding the illegal puppy trade.
There were a staggering 8.9 million pet dogs in the UK last year and that number is ever rising! Hopefully if you are considering getting a new dog or puppy this will give you all the information you will need about where best to get them from and how to spot warning signs of illegal puppy trade.
Does your lifestyle suit a dog?
This may seem like a strange question, but in 2018 alone the RSPCA rescued or collected more than 102,900 animals! Things you should consider before getting a dog:
Picking a breed
Before going to a breeder you need to have picked a specific breed. But how to pick? We would suggest going to your vet. But some quick tips on picking a dog breed:
BreedersIf you are considering getting a puppy, usually the best bet will be to go to a breeder. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as easy as that! Even with new laws in place the “puppy farm” trade is still in action and often takes advantage of unsuspecting people, leaving them with puppies that are sick, poorly developed or traumatised. The next few sections will outline what you want to find in a breeder and how to avoid the puppy trade to get a happy, healthy puppy.
Good breedersThere are many good breeders out there. These will be licenced if this is their main income. The puppies will stay with the mother and siblings until about 8 weeks of age. Most of these breeders will also have the puppies microchipped, vet checked and had their first vaccination done.
Bad breeders - the puppy trade
These come in a couple of forms - the “puppy farms” we all hear of, where the mothers are kept in very poor conditions, have litters back to back and the puppies are taken away very early. These puppies are often poorly developed and have long term illnesses.
The other more recent form is puppies brought over from abroad and sold at a house which is a front for the business. These puppies are taken away from their mother too early and are shipped to the UK. Not only does this often leave them with behavioural issues they also may be carrying exotic diseases and be a risk to other dogs.
How can you differentiate between a good and bad breeder
Firstly ask questions on the phone - ask if you can come and see the puppy before buying, ask if they will have all their vaccinations and microchip before you pick them up. If anything seems a little off, or if they do not want you to come to the home, look for another breeder.
When you go for a visit - are the mother and siblings there? If not this is a massive warning flag! If it is a lone puppy or no mother then walk away. It is not “rescuing” the puppy to take it anyway, it is just funding them to continue to illegally trade.
Finally ask for recommendations! Your vet especially will know of good breeders that they may be able to recommend, but any personal recommendation can go a long way.
Getting a dog from abroadRescuing a dog from abroad is becoming an increasingly popular idea. However, there are tens of thousands of dogs in UK rescue centres that need a loving home. If you get a dog from abroad, you do not know what you are getting. There are less regulations on puppy breeding and there are many diseases that we do not have in the UK that you could be importing. So, you could end up having a dog with a lifelong illness or behavioural issues. We would recommend, if you wish to rescue a dog, to go to a UK rescue centre.
It is very rewarding to give a dog or puppy a second chance at a family. Especially if they have had a hard start in life. Be aware that these dogs can have behavioural issues relating to past trauma, but with patience and a stable home most of the time these can be managed. If you are thinking of getting a new dog this is a very good option as the centres are overrun with dogs looking for new homes.
Be careful, though, to find a reputable shelter or charity. Some “rehoming centres” are in fact fronts for the illegal dog trade (see above). Seek the recommendation of your vet, or go with a large national charity.