​Choosing a New Puppy

What should I consider before I choose?

When making the exciting decision to take on a new Puppy there are lots of things to be considered for your benefit but also for the puppy’s benefit.

It is important to consider the following points:
  • Why do you want a dog?
  • What do you expect from a dog?
  • What amount of walking will you want to do with your dog?
  • What space do you have at home and in the garden?
  • Do you want a working dog with high energy levels that will want exercise, training and work all the time?
  • Is it important for children to be involved in the handling of the dog?
  • Do you want a dog that requires lots of coat maintenance and grooming?
  • What breeds of dogs are you drawn to, and are they right for you?
  • Does the dog need to live with other animals?
  • Are colour, look, shape and size important?
After working through these points and thinking about a dogs varying needs, a shortlist can be formed of a few different breeds of dog. There are a number of online resources full of information on characters, temperament, breed purpose etc to help make choosing the right dog easier. The "Find a Breed" page of the Kennel Club website is a great tool and can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Once you have a shortlist it is always very useful to meet the breeds and talk to owners of your chosen Dogs. This can be done in a number of places from local dog shows to large events such as Crufts or Discover Dogs. 

At Little Orchard we offer "soon to be" Dog owners the option to come along to our classes to meet various breeds and speak to owners before you make the final decision. Trainers are on hand at the end of the lesson if you have any specific questions.

Once you've chosen the breed for you

Once you've chosen the breed its time to source the best place to buy a dog from. You must consider that there are many people making money out of breeding dogs and that the dog’s health and temperament have to be the most important things to be achieved from breeding! It' really important that you meet the Breeders of your chosen dogs and you're happy with them before you commit to purchasing a dog. Once again there are a number of useful online resources to help you choose the correct breeder such as the Champdogs website or the Kennel Club list of registered breeders.
We advise that you select 2 Breeders and then visit them both. This can take place before the Puppies are even born!
Remember, you should be able to phone and speak to a breeder, ask to see one or both parents and ask as many questions as you see fit.  Ideally they should be very flexible about when you want to go, showing they have nothing to hide and are happy to show off their dogs!

Meeting the Breeder / Puppies

Once you are heading to meet the breeder or see the puppies you should stay focused and remember that you should not come away with a puppy at that first meeting. This is one of those situations when the head must rule emotion! Its useful to have a list with all those questions you wanted to ask the breeder and a checklist to carry out an assessment of the puppies.

Initial Puppy Assessment

The following advice can be applied whether this is the First visit and the Pups are born or it's a return visit once the pups are born.  

Can you greet and handle the mother? – Mum should be happy to see you without being nervous so you should see no lowered body language, growling or backing away from your approach as this will tell you what she may have taught the puppies.
She shouldn't be so overexcited that she knocks you over as this may lead to puppies learning to be very boisterous.

Look at where the puppies are kept - They should be clean and free from any urine or faeces. They should be kept fairly warm but they should not feel hot to touch. Its not good if they are all cuddled up tightly to keep warm, neither is it good if they are all spread out to cool down. We would hope to see provison for play, sleeping and toileting.

Meet the pups - An ideal puppy greeting would be them trotting up to see you but are polite when they interact. They should not push everyone out of the way and insist on all the attention as you don’t want the pushiest puppy in the gang. You also don’t want the puppy that hides at the back and is scared of people and has not learnt that they are good things. You should take to the puppy and smooth it, see if you can handle its body and pick it up. The puppy should enjoy the attention, it may wriggle and play but you should not have undue avoidance or any aggression or nervousness.
Watch the puppies interact with each other and their mum, they should be happy, playful and exploring their environment and you. They should not be so overexcited to the point of growling and biting. The mother should be firm but kind and fair during the interaction if she needs to keep control its important she does so but only with as much force as needed.

Examine the puppy - A healthy puppy will have bright eyes with a clean, shiny coat with no scurf or parasites. It should not have a pot belly as this can indicate worms. A puppy should not smell or have any discharges from eyes, ears or genital areas and should walk freely and comfortably.

Questions to ask the breeder

  1. Is it best to have 2 puppies together? If the answer is "Yes" then be very wary as this is poor advice  and is usually just so the breeder make double the money. Respectable breeders would always advise you that one puppy needs to be raised with boundaries, socialisation under your guidance and training before you should add another dog for company or because you want two dogs. The best time to introduce a second dog is after maturity around 2 years of age. That said, it is possible for litter mates to live together. It's just harder for you as the owner to recognise and meet the needs of each individual dog and provide enough time with each.
  2. Tell me about the breed. You would expect the breeder to be able to tell you where the breed originate from, what it was bred for, what characters do they have and whether they get any common illnesses. Most importanty they should tell you why they love the breed.
  3. How often do you have a litter of puppies? This will tell you whether they breed for fun and for the good of the breed or whether it is mainly for financial gain. Beware of "Puppy Farming".
  4. What health tests have the parents had? Some of the more common tests required before mating are hip scores, elbow scores and eyes. Certain breeds have additional tests for common problems.
  5. How many dogs do you own and where do they all live? This will give you an idea of what the set up and reason for breeding is and how well the dogs behave is something to also consider.
  6. What vaccinations, flea and worm treatment has been given or what do you advise? Veterinary advice is that vaccinations are given at 8 and 10 weeks, flea treatment is as needed by your vet and breeder until the age of 7/8 weeks when treatment from your vet can be purchased and administered each month. Wormer should be every 2-3 weeks until the age of 8 weeks and then once a month until at least 6 months of age. Its important that you have all the information to give to your vet so they know what medications have been given and there is no chance of overdose or using conflicting treatments. 
  7. What do you recommend I feed the puppy? This should be a balanced, premium complete puppy food appropriate for its size to ensure that the calcium and protein levels are correct for bone development. Our pups are fed on Purina Pro Plan. 
  8. If I have any queries about my puppy can I contact you for advice? Of course they should be pleased to offer you ongoing advice and support and some breeders ask for a contract to be signed which is a responsible thing to do. Some will also offer to have the puppy back if you can no longer cope at any point in the future. They should also admit they don’t know everything about dogs and refer you to your veterinary surgeon for any medical advice.