Pedigree puppies - how to avoid puppy farmers.

Author: 
Hilary Coates, Wagging Tails Wiltshire
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Puppy farming continues to be a huge problem in the UK. I was shocked by the recent BBC News report on the increasing prevelance of puppy breeders trying to cash in on the demand for "designer" breeds and a link shared subsequently on the Swindon Dog Community Facebook page reporting that a local puppy farm breeder had been jailed for fraud after illegally importing puppy farm dogs and selling them to people as "home bred". We have previously written posts about both Puppy Farming and How to avoid Puppy Farms and I feel that it is also pertinent as part of this post to point out that, sadly, there are a huge number of rescue dogs in this country looking for a loving home, and if you are thinking of getting a dog please don't discount this as a route to ownership.  

Local dog trainer Emma Johnston's Blog Pitfalls of purchasing your perfect pooch! raised some interesting points on purchasing a puppy. Emma is a trainer trusted by local vet practices Eastcott and Vets4Pets to provide their puppy parties and she limits the number of puppies in her classes to ensure that enough attention is given to each dog. She also offers one to one training sessions which Bandit and I, along with some of my Wagging Tails owners in the Swindon postcode area, have benefitted from. Having recently read Emma's article my post is focussed specifically on prospective owners looking for a pedigree puppy from a reputable and ethical breeder.

Emma's blog outlines 10 steps for potential dog owners to work through to ensure that their puppy is coming from a reputable and ethical breeder and she is quite right in saying that,

"If you go about things the right way, you will have a greater chance of having a happy, healthy, puppy."

At Wagging Tails we would totally agree that the first step to dog ownership is research. You need to research the breed that you would like and make sure that this breed is going to be right for your family and your lifestyle. As much as you might love the look of a Border Collie, they are highly intelligent working dogs that can require a huge amount of mental stimulation and exercise and if you are looking for a relaxed dog to take for a gentle afternoon stroll and curl up on the sofa with this may not be the best breed for you!

Having decided on the breed you will need to find a reputable breeder. As Emma points out there are many different types of breeder. There are reputable breeders at all levels and whether they are large show breeders or smaller "hobby" breeders who have more infrequent litters, good places to start are the Kennel Club Assured Breeders listed on the Kennel Club website or specific breed clubs (for example the Portuguese Water Dog Club of Great Britain would be a great place to start when looking for this breed). A breed club will able to direct you to reputable breeders and should be one step to avoiding puppy farmers. 

Avoid buying a puppy on a budget. As Emma correctly identifies, 

"Well bred puppies are expensive - there's no getting away from that fact."

Your research should have given you an idea of the cost of buying your puppy and if a litter is available at a significantly lower price this should definitely be questioned. If cost is an issue it may be that a rescue dog is a better route to ownership for you. There are huge numbers of rescue dogs available in the UK who need a loving home. 

In addition Emma advises you not to rush into a decision and make sure you see mum with her pups. Addressing the former, a reputatable breeder will often make it seem very difficult for you to be a recipient of one of their puppies! You should expect to be interviewed by the breeder as they should want to know the environment and family that their puppy is going to be living in. If you have children it is likely that they will want to see how your children interact with the mother as puppies don't stay puppies for very long! (in some cases will be bigger than the children within the year!).

The second point here is the most important of the lot - YOU MUST MEET YOUR PUPPY WITH HIS OR HER MOTHER! Insist on spending some time with Mum as well as the puppies (again most reputable breeders will encourage this) as this will give you a chance to see what her temperment is like and assess the conditions she lives in. If this is not possible or the breeder seems cagey about allowing you to do this then I would suggest walking away, it is that important. 

Critically as Emma points out,

"Buying the right dog from the right breeder is vital, paying money to get a puppy out of a bad situation only means you end up funding them to breed more."

By purchasing a puppy that appears to be in a bad situation out of a desire to get it to safety is the right instinct but it only fuels the fire in the long term. Walk away and report the breeder. By carrying out good research, spending time with the breeder and waiting for the right litter, meeting the puppy with its mother and being prepared to pay the price for your puppy you are far more likely to get the puppy that is right for you and avoid helping to funding the puppy farming industry which is abusing dogs purely for profit. 

Hilary Coates and her Beagle, BanditHilary Coates and Bandit own and run the Wagging Tails Swindon franchise offering owners throughout the SN postcode area a home based alternative to kennels. Go here to find out more about her Swindon dog boarding service.