1. Don't feel pressured to buy the puppy on your first visit.
A responsible breeder won't mind a few visits before you buy your puppy. This will help you to assess the environment and legitimacy of the breeder.
2. Only agree to meet at the puppy's home.
Unscrupulous breeders have been known to rent houses as a front to their operations.
Deceitful sellers will often suggest meeting at convenient locations e.g. halfway point, your area or drop off to your home.
3. Make sure the mother and the rest of the litter are present.
Ask to see the mother and littermates. Watch the puppy interact with it's mother and littermates. You should be able to handle the mother and other puppies. A friendly and socialised mother is likely to have friendly socialised puppies.
A mother that seems uninterested in her pups might suggest that the puppies are not really hers!
The mother should be older than one year old but not too old either.
Ask about the mother's breeding history. 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.
4. Check for health and behavioural issues.
Puppies should be bright, alert, sociable, have clear bright eyes, clean ears, no swollen abdomens, clean bottom and hair clean and kept looking.
Puppies should interact confidently with the breeder. Very nervous puppies is a red flag for poor socialisation. Puppies ideally should be exposed to all the expected norms of a busy household and active lifestyle e.g. TV, radio, new people, traffic etc
5. Puppy should have medical records.
This should include their primary vaccination record and worming history.
Puppies can acquire a worm infection when in the womb through their mother's milk and from their environment. It is a basic guideline to worm puppies: From birth every 2 weeks until they are 3 months old.
There should be proof of a worming schedule e.g. proof of wormer purchase, worming schedule.
The vaccination card should be completed and signed by a qualified veterinary practitioner. A responsible breeder will have these records to hand and will not claim to send them on afterwards.
6. Veterinary health check.
A responsible breeder will offer to take the puppy back at any point should you be unable to keep him/her.
You should have your puppy brought into the vet within 48hrs of purchase for a health check. If there is any issue, a responsible breeder will stand over the pup and accept its return. Discuss this with the breeder before you purchase your puppy.
7. The puppy is weaned and on a suitable puppy diet.
A puppy should be completely weaned off its mother by 7 weeks old. Any time before this is too soon.
The breeder should give you enough puppy food to go with your puppy to last it approximately 5-7 days as you wean your puppy on to the diet you will be giving it.
8. A pedigree puppy should be Kennel Club registered.
Purebred Not Registered (PBNR) puppies are very likely to have not been bred to the high standards expected (i.e. parents health screened etc) and their pedigree is not legitimate without Kennel Club registration.
Do not purchase a pedigree puppy if the breeder tells you they will send the pedigree and kennel club registration on at a later date. Only purchase the puppy if these records are present with the puppy at time of purchasing.
9. Purchase using traceable payment methods.
Ideally use traceable payment methods when paying deposits or entire amounts for your puppy.