Getting a four-legged friend is a big decision that should come after research into what dog ownerships means, and all the responsibilities that come with it, and which breed is the best fit for your lifestyle.
If you are thinking about buying a dog, you should consider if you are ready and able to care for them in a longterm. Make a start by thinking about these questions:
- Do you have the time to give a dog all the care and attention they need?
- Will you have the time to exercise, bath, groom, feed, train and care for your dog?
- Does having a dog genuinely suit your lifestyle, including how both might change in the future? For example, have you considered the full costs of having a dog across its whole life, including vet fees?
Can you provide enough exercise and mental stimulation every day, all year round, for your dog’s life? If you have considered these factors and believe you are definitely ready for a canine companion, the next vital step is to find the best breed for you, your family and your lifestyle, by researching breed characteristics and care. When choosing a new family member, future dog owners need to think about various factors such as size, grooming, training and exercise needs, as well as personality.
Be very honest with yourself when it comes to considering what you can give a dog in terms of time, exercise, training, and grooming. Also think about how much noise you are prepared to put up with, how much shedding, how affectionate you want a dog to be, and whether the breed is child and pet-friendly. Some dogs will need a good two to three hours a day of exercise, plus training, to keep them healthy and happy. Others will be fine with just a couple of short walks a day, although they will still need the same amount of your company.
- See the puppy with its mum and in its home environment, more than once
- Are provided with paperwork, including relevant health rest results for the puppy’s parents, a contract of sale, information about vaccinations and microchip details
- Are prepared to be put on a waiting list – and remember that a healthy, happy puppy is worth waiting for.
- Be wary. While there are lots of fantastic, passionate dog breeders out there, there are also individuals who put profit before health and welfare.
- Puppy farmers are clever and via the guise of the internet, can disguise horrific breeding conditions, often selling poorly puppies to unsuspecting new owners, who don’t know the true background of the pups and go on to pay the price in vet bills and heartache.
For example, city-dwellers in a smaller flat, looking for a dog with moderate exercise and grooming needs could consider a English Toy Terrier, whilst those after a bundle of energy that will give exercise-fanatics an excuse to get lots of fresh air may prefer a Springer Spaniel. For a family looking for a dog, there are breeds particularly well-suited to living alongside children – which tend to be patient enough to handle a child’s energy and curiosity, strong enough to handle the way they play, yet gentle with affectionate personalities.
Try to learn as much as you can about breeds you’re interested in – both their good traits and possible downsides. Do your research, speak to breed experts or people you know who own the breed you’re interested in. Events such as Discover Dogs, which takes place in London in the Autumn, as well as Crufts which is on at the NEC in Birmingham next weekend, are both great places to start!
The next step is to actively seek out breeders and meet puppies. Finding the right breeder is just as important as finding the right breed, and again, is all about doing your research and knowing what to look for. When looking for a reputable breeder, a good place to start is asking friends, family, breed clubs, training clubs or your local vet to see if they have any recommendations.
The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme is another way to find a well-bred and adjusted puppy. As part of the scheme, the breeders and their homes are regularly inspected by health and welfare inspectors to ensure they adhere to the high standards expected.
A good breeder will also be happy to answer any questions puppy buyers might have and will encourage several visits from the potential new owner to meet the puppy ahead of taking them home. They should also provide all relevant paperwork, including the pedigree detailing the dog’s ancestry, health test results for the parents, vaccination records and a puppy contract. Responsible breeders should be curious about the puppy’s future and are likely to ask questions to make sure that their new owner will take proper care of the puppy now and for its life.
The only way you can spot rogue breeders is by being aware of what to look out for, and taking your time. The Kennel Club’s #BePuppywise campaign shows around 20% of puppy buyers spend less than two hours doing their research – this leaves them vulnerable to scams and unlikely to spot the signs of an unscrupulous breeder.
Welcoming a dog or puppy into your home is an exciting and life-changing time. Dogs can bring endless benefits to every family member, from teaching children about responsibility to boosting your emotional wellbeing. Many people can be tempted to get a puppy impulsively, deciding solely on looks or the popularity of a certain breed, without thinking about the responsibility that comes with owning a dog. Puppies and dogs require time, patience and dedication and their needs in terms of exercise, space or grooming can largely vary from one breed to another. To ensure your new four-legged friend is happy, healthy and comfortable in your home, make sure to carry out thorough research, meet dogs and their breeders and follow the recommended steps before getting your new four-legged family member.
SIGNS OF IRRESPONSIBLE BREEDERS INCLUDE:
- Breeders who won’t let you see or meet the puppy, and it’s mum and littermates
- Sellers won’t show you where the puppy has been bred and raised, or ask you to pick up the puppy from a neutral location
- Adverts on multiple sites or signs that the breeder is trying to make a quick sale
- The breeder is not being interested in you or asking any questions about your own knowledge or situation
Crufts, taking place next weekend at the NEC in Birmingham, is a great starting point for those considering welcoming a dog into their lives. Visitors can meet and greet all the different breeds in the Discover Dogs area, chat to the dedicated experts and find out more about which four-legged friend is right for them.
Carly Davies, 31, from Hampshire, did exactly that when looking for a dog to fit into her lifestyle. As a visitor to Crufts in 2020, ahead of the pandemic, she visited the Kooikerhondje breed booth and spent some time with the breed club, before meeting her perfect match, Sora, who she acquired from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder. Since then, the pair have become involved with canine activities themselves, taking part in 1-1 dog showing sessions and using the time in lockdown to continue practicing. The duo are making their Crufts debut next weekend. Speaking of their partnership, Carly says: “Showing [with Sora] has given me a new hobby and introduced me to a fantastic community of people who have been so welcoming and supportive, and who I can now call my friends.”
Crufts 2022 takes place at the NEC Birmingham from 10th – 13th March and is the perfect place to meet your four-legged match, talk to a responsible breeder and find out about all the activities you can get involved in with your dog. Tickets can be purchased via the Crufts website – crufts.org.uk
More information about The Kennel Club Assured Breeders scheme and responsible puppy buying advice can be found at www.thekennelclub.org.uk