There's something magical about bringing a puppy home. The feeling that you're taking home a new member of your family who will be your best friend is one like no other. However, there's also a dark and sinister side to the puppy trade which should make you think very carefully about where your puppy has come from.
Where has my puppy come from?
Puppies come in all shapes and sizes, from Great Danes to Teacup Yorkshire Terriers. The choice is vast.
There are licensed, reputable breeders who follow guidelines and ensure all their puppies receive a clean bill of health before they find them homes. However, for every reputable breeder there are many more puppy farms and backyard breeders and these are the areas we want to warn owners about.
Puppy farms are quite lucrative businesses that put profits before the welfare of the mother dogs and their puppies. Often puppies from these farms are unhealthy due to poor hygiene, lack of vaccinations, inbreeding and the poor health of their mothers. Little or no vet checks result in owners taking on far more than they expect and often leads to heartbreak soon after they take their puppy home.
Any veterinary surgery will tell countless stories of distraught owners who have contacted them soon after taking their puppy home when it has fallen ill from sometimes fatal diseases like Parvovirus.
These are unlicensed breeders that breed in their own homes for profit. As they are unlicensed there are no guidelines they need to follow and quite often the mother dogs are overbred to produce as many litters as possible. As well as the possibility of taking home a poorly puppy, you must also think of the ethics of funding a breeder like this. The mother dogs can have a dreadful life where they are seen only in terms of the amount of money they can make their owner. They have a reduced lifespan and are sometimes passed on to somebody else when they reach the end of their usefulness.
Alongside the health issues that puppies from these two avenues can present, often they are also very under-socialised with people, and sometimes other dogs too, which can lead to behavioural problems further down the line, particularly if you are not an experienced dog owner. As the puppies are usually removed from their mothers underage this also leads to another host of problems. It simply isn't worth the risk.
How do I know if the puppy I am purchasing is from one of these sources?
Firstly, have a look at the advertisement. Does the advertisement state that the breeder is kennel-
club registered? Also, over 80% of the calls that the RSPCA receives in this area are regarding puppies first seen through internet ads. The internet is such an easy, accessible way for breeders to sell their puppies so you must always ensure that you investigate further before agreeing to hand over any money.
Has the breeder 'offered' to meet you elsewhere to hand the puppy over? And have they asked you if you would like to meet the puppy before taking it home? Alarm bells should ring if the breeder has asked to meet at a service station or any place other than where the puppy was bred. It suggests that perhaps they do not want potential owners seeing the conditions the puppy has grown up in.
If you have been able to travel to where the breeder says the puppy was born, are the puppies separated from their mother? And is the breeder hesitant to introduce you to the parents of the puppy? Again, if this the case, do not hand over any money.
I think the puppy we are interested in is from a disreputable breeder
Please call National RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 and do not go and buy a puppy.
We are looking for a puppy for our family, what should we do?
The first thing we would recommend is that you contact local rescue centres. A common misconception is that rescue animals are always older. We often have litters of puppies in our care which arrive because they have been abandoned, unwanted or have been seized by Inspectors. You can search the National RSPCA website here to find your local RSPCA Centre. You may have to travel further afield for puppies, however the same would be true of breeders. Every puppy rehomed from the RSPCA is vaccinated, microchipped, flea and worm treated, has a neutering voucher for when they are old enough and has been given a vet check.
If you cannot find a suitable rescue puppy, the next best thing is to search for a kennel club registered breeder. You can search for these via the Kennel Club website. Although we would always recommend adopting, if you are going to buy a puppy this is the most responsible way of doing it.
I can't find any kennel-club registered breeders of the breed of dog I want
If you cannot find the breed you are searching for via the above two methods, do not be tempted to search different avenues for puppies. Regardless of the fact that you may end up with a potentially unwell puppy, it simply is not the responsible thing to do. Buying puppies from puppy farms or backyard breeders is just funding their operations. If there was no business for these breeders then it would not be financially viable for them and they would not continue.