Champdogs - Guide to Buying a Puppy

Essential Information for Puppy Buyers

Buying a Puppy

Buying a puppy is a long term commitment. It is important to take your time to research thoroughly before making a decision which will affect your life for many years to come.

This puppy buyer's guide will highlight the important aspects to be aware of when you are considering the new addition to your family. If you have any further questions not covered by this guide then visit the Champdogs Forum where the members have a wealth of experience in dog breeding and ownership.

Research your Breed

Research the various breeds and choose one which suits your lifestyle. Make yourself aware of the health conditions which affect the breed. The Champdogs breed profiles contain information about each breed and highlight the required health tests. It is a good idea to attend breed related events such as shows and working events. Even if you don't intend to show or work yourself it is a great way to learn about and watch the breed as well as find breeders who are involved in the breed's community.

Health Testing

Reputable breeders aim to improve the overall health of the breed by only breeding from healthy good examples of the breed. The Sire and Dam of the litter are tested before the mating takes place and are only used if the results are acceptable. Health testing is expensive however by performing testing and then selectively breeding breeders can eliminate genetic conditions and minimise the likelihood of nongenetic conditions occurring. It is very important to note that "Vet checked" does NOT mean health tested.

Hip Scoring is recommended for most breeds and the BVA Eye Scheme can detect many hereditary eye conditions. Genetic tests are available for many of the other known conditions and new tests are continually being developed. For further information regarding the appropriate health tests you can contact the Kennel Club or the relevant breed club.

Health testing does not guarantee quality nor that the puppy will not develop problems later in life. So many influences in the outside world can determine how your puppy will turn out. However you want to stack the cards in your favour and you can do this by buying from tested parents. The major advantage for health screening is that at least the breeder knows the stock they are breeding from is fit for the purpose and that any puppies resulting from that mating will be as healthy as they can be.

Kennel Club Registration

Be aware that Kennel Club registration is not a guarantee of quality nor that the breeder is reputable. Although all reputable breeders register their litters with the Kennel Club, the KC will unfortunately still accept registrations from puppy farmers and commercial dog breeders.

However if a pure bred litter is not KC registered it immediately raises a 'red flag'. There is no good reason why a litter should not be registered with the Kennel Club. If a litter is not registered it is likely the dam of the litter may be too young, too old, had too many litters, or be endorsed for health reasons.

Be extremely wary of any advertisement which uses a phrase such as "pedigree dog with papers" as it is likely that any such litter will NOT be Kennel Club registered. If in doubt ask for confirmation the litter will be Kennel Club registered and not with any other registration system. All litters listed on Champdogs must be registered with the Kennel Club.

Choosing your Breeder

One of the most important decisions you will make is choosing the breeder of your dog.

Never buy a dog from a pet shop. No reputable dog breeder will ever sell a dog to a pet shop. Pets shops are supplied by puppy farmers and commercial puppy dealers.

Reputable breeders care about their breed, their dogs and those litters that they bring into the world. These breeders health test their dogs prior to breeding.

A good breeder will also :

  • Be contactable for any problems or moral support and reassurance for the dogs entire life.
  • Take back a puppy or do all they can to aid in the responsible rehoming of a pup that cannot be kept by the original purchaser, again at ANY point in its life.
  • Stay at home with the pups from birth to pups going to new homes, and have someone with them 24 hours a days in the first days and weeks.
  • Begin the basics of socialisation to household life, people, other animals and also the beginnings of training.

Contact as many breeders and ask as many questions as you can and be prepared to wait for a puppy from the right breeder.

Visiting your Breeder

Always travel to see your prospective puppy in its home environment. Never ever meet 'halfway' at a motorway service station or in a pub car park.

It is important to view as many litters as you can before you make your selection. This will give you a clearer picture of what is normal and what is not. If you are not happy about any aspect when you visit a breeder then walk away.

Always see the mother with her puppies as this will allow you to assess the temperament of the mother. Under supervision you should be allowed to see the whole litter and be able to handle them, rather than just seeing the puppy being offered to you. Observe the way the dogs respond to the owner and any other human family members.

Be prepared to ask plenty of questions and to also be asked questions about yourself and your life style. Be wary of any breeder who does not give you a grilling, reputable breeders treat their dogs as members of their family and want to find the best possible homes for them.

What Questions should I ask ?

We recommend that you request to see all written documentation of health checks. Documentation will be presented for inspection by any breeder whom carries out the checks. Breeders should be happy to explain anything that you do not understand about the test and/or the results. If they are reluctant to show you or can not locate the certificates, then it would be wise to double check with the Kennel Club that the stock has actually been assessed and results noted. If a litter on the Champdogs litter register is highlighted as being from health tested parents then we at Champdogs have verified the results of those health tests.

Most importantly never buy a puppy because you feel sorry for it and want to get it out of an awful situation. Doing this just fuels the trade in poorly bred puppies, so no matter how hard it feels just walk away. That puppy will most likely cause you years of heartbreak not to mention the cost of the vets bills.

Collecting your Puppy

If the Kennel Club registration documents are not available when you collect your new puppy it is important to get written confirmation they will be forwarded as soon as they arrive with the breeder.

The breeder should also provide a written diet sheet and worming schedule.


Remember you are making an investment which will hopefully live with you for 12 or more years. So take time to do your research, be prepared to wait a little longer and pay a little more for a healthy well bred and well socialised puppy.

This quote from tooolz in a thread on the Forum gives more good advice :

"Best advice is.......Don't buy a puppy...Buy a BREEDER. One who loves and cares for their dogs, one who will give a lifetime of aftercare, one who is more concerned if YOU are the right owner for their puppy.....then you will be blessed with a well reared, well loved pup with all the back up you may need."

And if by now you have decided a puppy is not for you, then why not consider an older dog, a rescue or one who has been returned to the breeder for re-homing. Contact Champdogs if you are looking for an older dog as we occasionally hear of older dogs looking for a good home.

Good luck with your search !