Buying a new puppy can be an incredibly exciting time. You are selecting and welcoming in a new member to your family. Below are a few tips as to how you can make this process a smooth, safe and responsible process.

Selecting the correct breed is very important

Selecting a breed best suited to your current lifestyle will help to improve the quality of life you provide for the pet and will optimise their health and happiness.

Larger dogs will need more space in the house. If your house is small or lacking in outdoor space, your dog may grow up feeling quite claustrophobic and without the ability to move freely. Your large dog may hurt themselves walking into furniture or smashing ornaments if there is not enough room for them (plus their waggy tail) to get past! Smaller dogs often need much less room. Their beds are generally smaller and they are much more agile, so can move through smaller spaces more freely.

Think about how much exercise the breed needs. Taking your dog out for walks takes up time. How much time do you have? Are you prepared to continue to provide an adequate amount of exercise to your pet during the winter months? Ideally, you should already take part in the exercise, so you are not expecting huge personal routine changes upon arrival of your new puppy. Some breeds are happy with one short walk a day, while other more boisterous breeds will require 3 long, off lead walks. Inadequate exercise can lead to behavioural issues.

Some breeds of dogs are predisposed to having specific diseases. Make sure you do your research first. Be financially prepared and know which symptoms you need to be looking out for.

Check the records

The breeder should be able to provide vaccination records for the mother and father. You should check the dates and make sure they are up to date and continuous throughout their life. You need to know if your puppy’s vaccination programme has been started and if so, for which diseases are they covered.

Many breeders will be able to produce ‘papers’ which could present as professional, however if you are buying a pedigree dog, you should make sure they are genuine Irish Kennel Club papers rather than unofficial or even forged documents.

It is illegal now for any dog in Ireland to not have a microchip. The microchip will need updating with your address and contact details once the puppy becomes yours. The microchip is very important as it identifies your pet should they go missing.

Visit your puppy within the breeder’s home at least once

And make sure this is prior to picking up the puppy. Check that all pets living in the house look healthy and their quality of life is optimised. Ideally, you should be able to see the mother and father.

Get a health check on your puppy within 48 hours of bringing them home

This is very important. Congenital diseases can be identified, along with assessing their growth rate and any conformational issues. The sooner they are identified, the sooner they can be treated. Some diseases can be fatal and it is better to diagnose these diseases early.

Do not buy sick puppies to save them – report the breeder to ISPCA.

Buying sick puppies fuels the demand for the breeder to produce more – in the same way that if we buy all of the chocolate in Tesco, the shelves will just be restocked faster and faster each time! We want to put a stop to puppy farming. The only way to reduce/stop the production of ill puppies with a poor quality life is to stop paying people to produce them! TOGETHER we can eradicate such breeders, but you must identify and report these breeders appropriately.

Don’t give puppies as gifts unless specifically asked for

Although puppies are adorable and great bundles of fun, they are live creatures who deserve a good quality life, not just a fun few days. These puppies will grow, they will go to the toilet in unusual places, they may develop diseases. They need loving throughout their entire life. Prior to buying a pet, you should be extremely prepared. The responsible owner needs to be committed to their pet for the entirety of their life.

Consider adopting.

Many ‘designer’ dogs have been genetically bred to have certain physical characteristics which make them much more likely to develop life changing diseases. Buying designer dogs fuels the production of diseased dogs. By adopting a dog, you can change a dog’s life. A life that already exists. A life that needs to be and can be changed.

Consider pet insurance and a pet healthcare plan

Pet insurance is highly recommended. You should shop around as there are so many different insurance deals out there!

Different health plans include different services but most will include vaccinations and parasitic treatments for the duration of your pet’s life. Many different practices offer these plans but we would recommend using our health plan if you are going to use us for emergencies and general health. The more often we see your puppy, the better we will understand your puppy and what their normal behaviour is. This helps us to spot abnormalities quicker leading to disease identification occurring quicker. The quicker the diagnosis is made, the sooner the treatment can start and the better the prognosis. Using the same vet practice helps to reduce the amount of stress experienced by your pet as they become familiar with the new place and environment.

Buying a puppy should be a very exciting time. Together, we can improve this market and provide puppies with the best quality of life possible.