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Step-by-step purchasing guide


1. Make sure the puppy is 8 weeks old or older.

2. Search the seller's names and details online. 

  • This helps you to assess if they are selling lots of different breeds, this is a warning sign of potentially deceitful breeders.
  • Put their phone number and name into a search engine to help with your detective work - mulptiple adverts attached to the details is a warning sign to be cautious.

3. Assess whether the puppy will be microchipped.

  • It is a legal requirement for the breeder to microchip the puppy and register their details before sale. It is considered an offence for the seller to offer to chip and register the puppy directly in your name.
  • The advertisement must show the puppy's individual microchip number as of February 2020.

4. The seller must have a registered seller's number if applicable.

A person must have a registered seller's number if the following applies to them:

  • a person who sells or supplies not more than 5 pet animals within 1 calendar year.
  • a person to whom the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010 applies.
  • a local authority or a facility run by or on behalf of a local authority.


1. Always ring before you visit.

If from your initial findings you think the breeder appears reputable then give them a call. If no phone number is provided this is a red flag.

2. Don't feel under pressure.

Purchasing a new puppy should never feel rushed. The seller should not be pushing for a quick sale. In fact they should be happy to answer your questions and if they are responsible expect questions in return. Responsible breeders wish for their dog's puppies to go to good homes.

3. Ask if they themselves have bred the puppies.

If the answer is no, ask the obvious questions such as; 'why?', 'who bred the puppies?', 'where did they come from?', 'can you see the parents?'

4. Ask about the medical history of your puppy.

An eight week old puppy advertised as fully vaccinated is false and misleading. Be familiar with the vaccines a puppy should have had and by what age. Learn more about puppy vaccines here. 

Once you know more ask what vaccines your puppy has had.

Ask what vaccines or boosters you are required to get your puppy as the new owner.

If a breeder has an incomplete vaccine card provided with the puppy, this is a red flag for an irresponsible breeder. See below for examples of incomplete and complete vaccine cards for comparison.

Ask 'do any of the parents have health issues?' Unfortunately, pedigree breeds can be prone to specific diseases and conditions depending on the breed.  A responsible breeder will have chosen parents that have been screened for these diseases to help reduce the risk of passing these conditions on to their offspring. Read this article to find out what health screening your puppy's parents should have records to prove they underwent health screening.

5. Ask about behaviour and environment.

Ask where the animal is being kept and how it’s being socialised. Poor or no socialisation can lead to serious behavioural issues later in life.

Will the puppy's mother be present when you go to visit? You should be able to see the mother and ideally the father too unless of course a sire dog was used that isn't present on the premises.

Ask 'can you see where the puppy was bred and kept when you visit?' Do not take a puppy home with you unless you have seen where they come from. If the seller offers to meet you halfway or won't allow you to see the premises DO NOT take the puppy. Purchasing puppies like this promotes irreputable breeders to keep up their deceitful practices.


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. 

New Puppy Guide