Dogs Trust

How to get a dog responsibly

We would always ask anyone considering bringing a four-legged friend into their life, to first of all check they are dog ready HERE and to rehome a rescue dog. We have lots of dogs of all shapes and sizes in our Rehoming Centre waiting to meet their special someone. However, we know that people sometimes want to buy a pup from a breeder.

Buying a puppy from a breeder can be hit and miss if you don’t know what to look for, or what questions to ask when buying a puppy. And, whilst we would generally never recommend buying a puppy from any online source, we do recommend that you visit if you are considering buying rather than adopting a puppy or dog. 

Do your research

We urge anyone thinking about getting a dog to do their research before welcoming a puppy into their life. Having a bouncy, happy, playful puppy is a very enjoyable experience and dog ownership can be very rewarding, but it is a lot of hard work, and a lifetime commitment which can sometimes be forgotten in all the excitement! The key things to think about when you first decide you want a pup are which breed would best suit your lifestyle, the financial costs of dog ownership, who will care for your dog if you go to work or have holidays booked and training classes.

Be aware of online adverts

Sadly, not everyone can be trusted, and there are thousands of unscrupulous breeders out there who make a good living peddling sick puppies via online adverts who may have come from a puppy farm. We want people to be aware that from 1st of February, 2020 it is a requirement for puppies to be eight weeks of age or older in order to be sold and that all adverts selling dogs, including online adverts, must now include the dog’s individual microchip number and if applicable, the seller’s registration number. When you visit a puppy, you should expect the breeder to be as curious about you and the home you can provide, as you are about the puppy. If you ever feel rushed into making a purchase, you should walk away. Don't buy the puppy because you will be fuelling the trade. It’s hard to do but it’s the right thing to do. 

Meeting your puppy for the first time

  1. Ask the breeder lots of questions and expect them to ask you some too! A responsible breeder will want to see their puppies going to a good home, so expect questions on your lifestyle and home environment. Take this opportunity to ask them lots of questions too! They should have no problem with you visiting a few times to get to know your puppy, and you should never feel pressured to purchase on your first visit. If you feel at all rushed into making a decision, walk away.
  2. Never meet anywhere that isn't the puppy's homeWhen you meet your puppy it should always be in the breeder’s home, where they were born. Be careful though as we know of unscrupulous breeders who rent houses to make it look picture perfect, so when you visit take a look at the surroundings - does it look like a dog lives there? If so, be sure to see your puppy interacting with their mum and littermates. Mum should be a nice, friendly dog because temperament can be inherited, although she might be defensive of her puppies, she should be very comfortable around the breeder. If you’re not allowed to see them interacting together, or mum seems uninterested in her pups it might be that they’re not really hers! If you can't see the mum and puppies together, walk away and ask to go back when you can. Don't be afraid to ask!
  3. How old should a puppy be? They must be at least eight weeks old to leave their mum – this is now a legal requirement!
  4. Should a puppy be weaned? At seven weeks they should be fully weaned. If they are not, they could be younger than the breeder claimed.
  5. How old should mum be? She should be over a year old, but not obviously very old.
  6. Ask about mum's history, and how many litters she has had It is against the law to breed a bitch more than six times in her lifetime and during any period of three years, not more than three litters of pups are to be born to a bitch. If the breeder has more than six breeding bitches, they are required to be registered as a Dog Breeding Establishment.
  7. Have the puppies been wormed? Puppies are especially at risk from worm infections. Roundworms can be passed from the mother before birth, and after, through her milk. Infestation may cause weight loss, a swollen abdomen, vomiting and diarrhoea. A worming regime which is appropriate for your puppy/dog should be discussed with your registered vet. This will depend on your dog's age and lifestyle.
  8. Have the puppies had any vaccinations? If so, when is the next dose due? Puppies should be vaccinated at 6-9 weeks of age and then again at 10-12 weeks. They will become fully protected two weeks after the second vaccination. (There may be a requirement for a further vaccination at 16 weeks in some cases but your vet will discuss this with you). You will need to do this if the breeder has not.
  9. Does the puppy look healthy – clean eyes, ears and bottom? If the puppy is unwell, collect him another day. If he’s still ill, then do not take him and try another breeder. If you are at all suspicious of the surroundings or the breeder, report them to the ISPCA or DSPCA if in Dublin. Please don't purchase the puppy as you will just be fuelling the trade.
  10. What should I feed my puppy? Do you have a diet sheet to take away? A good breeder will give you enough food to continue exactly the same diet for a couple of days. They should also give you a diet sheet that shows how feeding should change as your puppy grows.
  11. What sort of socialisation or experiences has my puppy had so far? Puppies should preferably be raised in a home environment with all the noise and through traffic of a normal home. Those raised in kennels away from the house will need more intensive socialisation training to ensure they can cope with daily life as a pet. If puppies have already met other dogs, domestic animals and people they will have more confidence than those that have not.
  12. Can I return the puppy if there are any health problems? You should take your new puppy to a vet for a health check within 48 hours. A good breeder will offer to take the puppy back at any point should you be unable to keep him.
  13. Is the puppy Kennel Club registered? If so, make sure you are given the registration certificate and pedigree when you pick up your puppy.
  14. When can I take the puppy home? It is absolutely essential to see the puppies with their mother. Some unscrupulous people claiming to be reputable breeders might in fact be puppy farmers. These puppies are likely to be poorly bred, might be ill and are usually too young to leave their exhausted, ill-treated mothers. If they survive, these puppies rarely make good pets, and you will be fueling this cruel trade where money is the priority and welfare of the dog is ignored.
  15. Is the Puppy MicrochippedIt is a legal requirement for all breeders of puppies to microchip and register their own details prior to sale. It is against the law for a breeder to not microchip the puppy and have the dog’s microchip number displayed clearly on all adverts selling dogs. The microchip MUST be registered to the breeder and is considered an offence if they offer to chip and register directly into your name.

Take this with you:

Getting a puppy PDF 154 KB

I am concerned about a breeder or an online advert, what should I do?

If you are concerned in any way about a breeder or an establishment, you can report them confidentially to the ISPCA or DSPCA if in Dublin, especially if there are signs of obvious neglect or cruelty.  

If you have bought a puppy from a classified ad or website that has proved to be poorly or have behavioural problems, please report this to the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group.