Purchasing puppies and dogs through marketplaces online, like Puppies.co.uk, is popular and great way to find the pet of your dreams.
It’s a perfectly legitimate, legal and safe thing to do, if carried out in accordance with the law. Below, we offer our advice and recommendations for buying your first puppy.
Puppies.co.uk keeps up our end of the bargain, and to avoid trouble, we would recommend that you do too, by following our puppy buying checklist.
So, we provide our advice on purchasing a puppy below, and doing it like this will lead to better outcomes for you and your new arrival.
N.B. Puppies.co.uk is not a breeder of puppies or have any affiliation with the adverts on our site, other than the fact that we offer a completely free marketplace service.
Buying a puppy or dog checklist
1. Understand the law.
Take a read of Animal Welfare Act 2018. We provide a summary below. There are some steps that you need to take to make sure you, as the purchaser, are not breaking the law.
2. Make sure you are ready for a dog.
Puppies and dogs can be expensive to keep and require lots of time. Ask yourself if your house is big enough, you can meet the financial implications and if you have time to exercise and keep the dog entertained. All of these will happen for roughly the next 12 years.
3. Always go to the premises of the breeder.
You should take a good look around the location, and see the puppy with its mother. We suggest you should feel 100% certain, with proof, of the location of birth and conditions of the premises of your breeder.
4. Ask to see all relevant documentation around the puppy.
Vet records, passports (if imported), etc.
5. Ask all of the questions listed below.
6. Get a contract of sale written up.
This needs to be completed at the breeders’ premises with the sale happening here too. This is a UK law, and means the purchaser can break the law if they agree to receive a puppy without completing the sale at the premises of the breeder.
7. Check for a licence.
Whilst it is still legal in some circumstances to sell puppies without a licence, if your breeder does not have a licence you should check why not, and that it is still in accordance with the law. We give some advice below.
8. Never send deposits before seeing the puppy.
9. If ANYTHING makes you feel uneasy, consult a vet, or do not purchase.
What should I ask a puppy breeder
By law, your breeder will disclose information from veterinary care to feeding, but you are also responsible for information gathering. This is not an exhaustive list but will get you started:
Could I meet the litter’s parents? At a minimum, it’s a good idea to view the puppies’ mother.
How have you been socialising the puppies so far?
Can I ask if the parents of the puppies are certified or health checked? This question will help specifically with matters concerning potentially inherited health problems from the parents such as hip conditions.
How heavy are the parents of the puppies? This question could help you gauge just how big the puppy or puppies could grow to.
What vaccines has the puppy had? What is its veterinary record?
Have any of the puppies in this litter become ill up until now?
Can you provide me with any recommendations from previous customers? A good way to establish the integrity and reputation of the breeder.
What are you currently feeding the puppies?
Do you offer a guarantee with the sale of the puppies? If so, it is a good idea to have a contract drawn up if one does not exist already and get it witnessed at singing.
Do you belong to a dog breeding club?
Where was this puppy born and kept until now? As mentioned previously, the sale should be complete at that premises.
Here are some things to be thinking about when you arrive at the premises of the breeder:
Are there other puppies from other litters or breeds?
Is the environment clean and does not smell of smoke?
Is the breeder asking questions about you to ensure their puppies are going to a good home? This is part of their responsibility. If the breeder does not show an interest in you, this should be cause for concern.
Apply common sense and do not be rushed into buying even if they do offer a “special offer”.
The Puppies.co.uk promise
We (humans, not robots) pre-check all listings that are submitted to our site.
We will remove adverts and ban breeders who are breaking the law and/or presenting ‘scam’ listings.
We will never exchange payment through our platform for the sale of puppies, after you have seen the puppy for sale, it’s between you (purchaser) and the breeder (seller).
Puppies.co.uk has taken all steps under our control (with regard to the advertisement of pets) lawfully, and each breeder has the opportunity to display their adverts in accordance with the law.
We endeavour to catch scams, puppy farms or other illicit practices, however, some are still able to get through the net. Therefore, we have prepared a the checklist above that we suggest you cover off before going ahead with purchasing a new puppy.
Report anything you see on our site HERE that makes you feel uneasy.
Due to high numbers of illegally imported puppies, along with farmed puppies in poor conditions, the government passed into law the Animal Welfare Act 2018.
This legislation covers all forms of activities involving animals, to ensure the necessary care is taken with regard to their welfare.
Not all breeders require a licence, but many reputable breeders will have licences.
The section most important to become familiar with when looking for puppies for sale is Schedule 3: selling animals as pets.
There are many stipulations in this legislation including conditions of housing and what information your breeder is required provide. But, here are the highlights:
‘In the business of pets’ is a term used to determine a requirement for a licence number. This is a slightly grey area, however is widely considered to mean breeding activities which result in profit for the breeder. This is different to, for example, a one off litter given birth to, with proceeds of the activity covering the costs of the litter and not being a supporting income for the breeder.
You need to have a licence, regardless if you are in the business or not, if you breed more than 3 litters in 12 months.
No puppy under 8 weeks old can be sold.
All animals for sale must be in good health.
The sale of a dog must be completed in the presence of the purchaser on the premises. (this ensures the conditions of breeding premises has been viewed by the purchaser).
If you are worried your breeder is breaking any of these fundamental laws, or any others mentioned in the Animal Welfare Act 2018 you should immediately report them to the police and local council.
I have heard that rehoming dogs is the only safe way to get a pet dog/ puppy
This is, fortunately, completely un-true and can be a very harmful statement to the 99% of breeders who behave fantastically.
The vast majority of breeders are loving people who care deeply for their craft of breeding puppies, and treat all their animals with the upmost respect.
Yes, rehoming dogs can be a wonderful thing, but is no better or safer than new-born puppies sourced in the correct and lawful way.
To add to this, rescue organisations often have onerous stipulations around children in the home, age of adopter and other things which mean sometimes adoption is not possible.
Make sure you follow our advice above and become familiar with the law, purchase from a reputable and responsible breeder and you will have a pleasant, safe and happy experience.
You’ve decided to take the plunge and make contact. Here are some questions to ask the breeder before arranging your first visit. It may be worth having a pen and paper handy to make notes, so you can think over their answers.
1. Did you breed the puppy that is advertised?
This may seem an odd question to start off with, but it is always worth checking. It’s better to buy directly from the breeder, because you will want to see the puppy with its mother in the place where it was bred.
2. Are the puppies available to see and handle where they were bred?
Insist on seeing puppies where they were born and bred. Hopefully this should be in a clean, warm and loving environment.
3. How big was the litter and how many puppies are left for sale?
If you are making the trip to meet the breeder, check that there is choice of puppies. Repeat the question when you visit, you should get the same answer as you did on the phone/email. If you don’t, there might be a problem such as illness. Puppies are vulnerable to disease and other complications at this early stage of life and you want to buy a healthy puppy from a strong litter.
4. Has the mother or puppies suffered any illness or had other problems?
Honesty is always the best policy. If there has been illness you should expect to be told. As long as treatment has been effective this shouldn’t be a concern.
5. Have the puppies been treated for parasites such as worms and what about vaccinations?
Generally puppies should have already started worming treatments before your first visit, the same goes for first vaccinations.
6. Have the puppies’ parents been screened for inherited diseases?
Some breeds of dog can be affected by inherited conditions. Tests for these are now widely available, with schemes run by both the Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association. There are also DNA tests for certain breeds.
Happy with the answers – then it’s time to arrange the first visit. Just confirm that you will be seeing the mother with the puppies. You’ll want to see for yourself that they are interacting well together.
It’s important that you prepare the house well in advance of the arrival of your puppy.
Getting a good night’s sleep will be vital to both of you as you settle down to living together. Therefore it makes sense to set aside sleeping space in the house, somewhere where your puppy can relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of family life.
There’s a wide variety of beds available, so it’s down to personal preference. Owners of small dogs may be attracted to igloo-style beds that provide maximum privacy. However, be careful with your money, it may make sense to buy a cheaper bed to start with and then move on to something more substantial for your dog’s adult years. Whatever you decide on, make sure that your dog can stretch out fully when asleep.
Specialist dog bedding is recommended as a base for hard plastic baskets
….but old towels and blankets will do just as well. Beds should be placed in a warm draught proof part of the house. One tip that many breeders give, is to take a piece of cloth with you when you go and collect your puppy from his mother. Rub the cloth over the mother to pick up her scent and then place it into your puppy’s bed when you get back home. He will be comforted by her presence.
Feeding bowls come in all shapes and sizes, from very basic plastic ones to novelty ceramic artworks. Whatever you choose, make sure there are separate dishes for food and water. The water bowl should always be available and don’t forget to place it out of the way so it isn’t continually being tripped over by the rest of the household!
When you bring a new puppy home, there’s nothing you want to do more than shower her with affection. But the little ball of energy is more vulnerable to illness than vaccinated dogs with mature immune systems. As a new dog owner or a pet sitter, you may not yet know the signs that you have a sick puppy on your hands. However, there are about seven common puppy illnesses to look out for, including: intestinal parasites, Parvovirus, Coccidia, Canine Distemper, Heartworm Disease, Kennel Cough and Hypoglycemia.
Many puppies get intestinal parasites, such as roundworms or hookworms, early in life. Symptoms include loose stool and an upset stomach. The vet can offer an oral drug to paralyse the worms and enable your puppy to pass them in his poop.
The virus is highly contagious and can be caught from direct or indirect contact with contaminated feces. Look for bloody diarrhea, vomiting and a loss of appetite. If you notice those symptoms, offer comfort care and get antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.
This parasite, which is usually found in standing water, can infest your puppy’s gastrointestinal tract and the cells inside. Symptoms include diarrhea, blood in the stool or dehydration. The vet can offer a drug to kill the parasite. Looking to avoid this illness altogether? Keep your puppy’s water and environment sanitary and squeaky clean.
If a pesky mosquito bites a dog with heartworm several houses down, it can pass the worm on to your pet if the bug then bites your dog. It takes up to six or seven months before your puppy shows signs of illness. Heartworms can cause heart failure and lung disease and are potentially deadly.
Your dog will have a persistent dry, honking cough. See your veterinarian for an antibiotic, offer supportive care (no stress or junk food for your little guy!) and keep your sick dog away from his puppy friends until he’s better. A vaccination is available.
Small dogs can end up with low blood sugar if they don’t eat enough. If your dog has hypoglycemia, she may show signs of lethargy and possibly have seizures. When caring for your suffering dog, offer a proper diet and possibly diabetes medication provided by a vet.
Toys don’t have to cost a great deal – in fact there are probably items already lying around your home that are suitable for a puppy to play with. A soft plastic lid will do, or perhaps a visit to a local charity shop will yield unwanted soft toys. Just be sure they are clean and safe; supervise him for the first few times to avoid accidents.
Squeaky toys can become annoying in time, but most puppies love them. You’ll find a huge variety on offer; some are hard, others are made of soft chewable materials. Terriers in particular seem to love chasing squeaky balls from one room to another.
Raggers – made from strips of different fabric woven together – offer the chance of a good tug-of-war contest. Some are even flavoured for additional interest.
Balls are a perennial favourite and a great way of exercising while having fun. Border Collies and other ‘herding’ dogs enjoy pushing a ball around a field. Go for something soft that doesn’t puncture and is big enough so it can’t be accidentally swallowed.
Chews come in all shapes and sizes. They are either made from plastic, rawhide or hard biscuit. Keep them handy particularly when your puppy is teething. They’ll provide a useful distraction and stop him chewing things you’d rather he left alone, like your slippers.
Most puppies will enjoy meeting new people, and most people will enjoy meeting a puppy!
However, it’s important that your puppy is not overwhelmed, so ask people to crouch down to meet them. It’s much better for your puppy if they are able to approach a new person, rather than the other way round – this way you can be sure that they are feeling confident enough to meet somebody unfamiliar.
It’s tempting for people to pick up puppies and hug them, but it might frighten your puppy (especially if they are shy), so best avoided until you know that your puppy enjoys this sort of interaction.
If you live in a household without children, try and make sure that your puppy gets to meet a variety of sensible children of different ages
Observe your puppy constantly for signs of anxiety or being overwhelmed and, if things get too much, remove them from the situation or give your dog more space and freedom to approach. Remember young puppies tire easily, so keep encounters short with enough time in between for resting. During all encounters, protect your puppy from bad experiences.
Young puppies are inexperienced and get themselves into trouble easily, so think ahead and try to prevent any unpleasant events from occurring.
• Never pick up your puppy and pass them to someone or pull your puppy towards them. Puppies should always be able to make an approach in their own time and retreat if they want to. • An anxious puppy will try to look smaller, avoid eye contact, hold their tail low, put their ears back and keep away. They may also lick their lips or yawn. Make sure you pay attention to these signs and take action as soon as possible, usually by taking your puppy away from whatever is causing them to be worried. • A happy, relaxed puppy will stand up straight with their tail (or whole body) wagging and be keen to investigate • Avoid using food when introducing your puppy to strangers as this may teach them that all people carry food on them, which is not ideal. You’ll want your puppy to approach people because they want to say hello politely, not to receive treats!