How to find your ideal canine companion

Owning a dog has many benefits, but it is also very important to remember that it is a long-term commitment and responsibility. This factsheet takes you through the different stages of adopting a puppy and the things you should consider.

Consider the costs and time involved before buying a dog.


* Weekly food bill

* Bedding, toys, other equipment

* Veterinary care

* Insurance Cover

* Boarding kennel fees

* Grooming/clipping fees

* The average lifespan of a dog is 13 years. Are your current circumstances likely to change? If so, will owning a dog become a problem (such as starting a family, moving abroad)?

* Will you be able to devote time to your puppy when he first arrives home?

* Are you going to be away from home for long hours during the day?

* Do you go away frequently? If so, will you be able to take your dog with you?

* Will you be able to take him for at least one good walk a day?

It is essential for you to choose a breed which will best suit your circumstances.

* Why not consider adopting a rescue dog or puppy? Please remember that the KSPCA often have stray or abandoned puppies in need of loving homes. For more information ring the KSPCA on 086-8172167.

* Research the different breeds by reading books and gain as much information as possible before making your choice.

* Think about your lifestyle, size of home, facilities for exercise and time available.

* Speak to other dog owners for their advice and experience.

* Should you choose to adopt a pedigree, meet dogs of all ages and both sexes of that breed. This will give you an idea of what to expect.

* Consider both the physical and mental needs of the breed you have chosen.
What makes a good breeder?

Dog breeding is a very specialised area. This is why it is so important for you to go to a reputable breeder when choosing a puppy. Good breeders will carefully choose a brood bitch or stud dog on the basis of quality relating to the breed standard, breed lines (ancestors and genetics) and compatibility.

A good breeder will:

* not breed from a bitch on two consecutive seasons.

* only allow their bitches to have three to four litters during the bitch’s breeding life.

* ensure their dogs have a good quality of life such as a balanced diet/housing/exercise/socialisation/veterinary care when necessary.

* not sell any dog to a commercial wholesaler, pet shop, dealer or other retail outlet.

* not breed from a bitch under two year of age or over eight years of age.

* not breed from a dog or bitch that is likely to pass on any hereditary problems to future generations of puppies (research of your chosen breed may alert you to some of these hereditary disorders such as Hip Dysplasia)

*       be knowledgeable about their breed and will always advise you on any queries you may have.

*       offer to take the puppy back should your initial circumstance change.

*       be keen to follow up their puppy’s progress in its new home, want to know as much about you and what type of home their puppy is going to, as you will want to know about them.


What if I decide to buy a pedigree?

*       Avoid buying from a pet shop/other retail outlet or through a newspaper advertisement offering a wide range of breeds.  It is possible that they are a dealer and that the puppies have been bred indiscriminately, putting profit before the dogs’ welfare.

*       When you have made your choice of breed contact the breed club secretary of the breed you have chosen.

*       Be prepared to put you name on a waiting list for a litter to be born.  A will bred puppy is worth waiting form  In the mean time ask if you can visit the parents to give you and idea of what the dog will be like as an adult.

*       Insist on seeing the mother interacting with the puppies and if possible, meet the father.

*       You should have easy access to the puppies and be able to handle them.

*      Make at least two visits to the breeder to view the puppies before you final collection.

*       If you are unsure about buying the right puppy, make enquiries with the local vet to see if he would be willing to attend the viewing to check the puppy for any visible health problems, this could save money and upset in the long term.

*       Request a written agreement that purchase is subject to a satisfactory examination by your veterinary surgeon within 48 hours of purchase.

*       Check that the puppies have regular access to human contact.

*       Check that the facilities are clean and that the puppies appear alert and healthy.

*       Ensure all the relevant paperwork is available for inspection when you visit the puppy.  This will include:  the pedigree and registration papers, hereditary screening certificates of the parents (for example hereditary eye disease if appropriate to the breed).

*       Check to see if the puppy has be wormed and vaccinated.  Some breeders will have the puppy vaccinated at eight weeks of age before releasing it to its new home.

*       Remember a kennel club registration/pedigree does not guarantee a perfect puppy.  It is up to you to carry out  the appropriate checks.

*       Ask the breeder if they would be willing to take the puppy back should your initial circumstances change (for example if you discover you are allergic to the dog)/.  Get written confirmation of this.

*       Ask the breeder questions about the puppy’s feeding regime.  Good breeders will supply you with a diet plan.

*       Expect to have to pay a deposit on choosing your puppy.

*       Choose a puppy that is interested in you, not the one the cowers in the corner.  Be aware, that the most outgun puppy may develop a more dominant character.

*            Check that the puppy has no discharge form its eyes or nose and that there are no sores, bald patches or scabs on the skin.

*       Make sure that the puppy is alert and responsive to sounds and is showing no obvious signs of illness, such as coughing.

*       If a puppy appears unwell on collection, do not take it – arrange with the breeder to return another day.

Please remember these are only guidelines.  There may be some variation between individual breeders.

And finally, the time you spend choosing your puppy will be an investment for a long and happy relationship between you and your dog.