Puppy Advice

Buying a puppy from a breeder

You’ll want to make sure that your puppy has been well bred in a loving, caring family home. But how do you find a good breeder? Read on to find out in our guide to buying a puppy from a breeder.

White German Shepherd laying on grass staring at camera surrounded by her three young puppies

By law, some dog breeders need a licence to be able to breed and sell puppies. This depends on how many litters they breed and the number of puppies they sell in a year. 

Licensed dog breeders

A dog breeder requires a licence from the local authority if they breed and sell puppies as a business. 

In England and Wales, a license is required by someone who breeds three or more litters and sells at least one puppy in a 12 month period. 

In Scotland the threshold is higher. A breeder must be licensed if they breed more than five litters a year. Licensed breeders are subject to inspections by the local authority and have to meet certain requirements regarding the welfare and care of their dogs and puppies. 

However, the term ‘licensed breeder’ includes small-scale professional breeders as well large-scale commercial breeders, commonly referred to as puppy farms. Therefore, a licensed breeder doesn’t necessarily signify a good breeder. 

Unlicensed dog breeders

Some people breed and sell puppies commercially but fall below the threshold for requiring a licence. Not all Kennel Club Assured Breeders are licensed, however they do meet the standards for breeding set by the Kennel Club. 

Bear in mind that there will also be people who are breeding and selling puppies commercially but are flouting the law by not declaring that they are operating a business. Watch this short film from DEFRA about ‘petfishing’ and how to avoid it. 

How to find a good dog breeder

Once you’ve decided on the right puppy for you and your family, you might want to begin your search with a specific breed of dog in mind. If that’s the case, the Kennel Club and Puppy Culture are good places to start. 

Breeders who are members of The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme meet standards that have been set by The Kennel Club to ensure they are practising and promoting good dog breeding. Find your preferred breed and search for a puppy that has been bred by a Kennel Club Assured Breeder

Breeders who enrol and undertake the Puppy Culture scheme focus highly on positive experiences, socialisation, and trianing of the litter from birth right through until the end of their critical socialisation period. Find out more at Puppy Club and search for Puppy Club Breeders across the UK.

If you live in Scotland, you can also use the Scottish SPCA’s Assured Breeders Scheme to find a puppy. 

Find a breeder whose puppies have been bred in a family home. You can ask where the puppies have been bred when you contact the breeder. This is important because a puppy that has been bred and raised in a family home will be much more suited to life as a family pet than a puppy that has been bred in a barn or outbuilding. 

Find out more about what questions to ask when buying a puppy

Looking for a puppy online

Both licensed and unlicensed dog breeders will advertise puppies for sale online. By law, a licensed breeder must display their licence number on their advertisement. That way you can identify if an advertiser is a licensed breeder. Find out more and buy safely with our guide to buying a puppy online.

Some local authorities have a list of licensed dog breeders on their website, which is a helpful resource for double checking the validity of a breeder’s licence number. 

What are the benefits of a Kennel Club registered dog?

Whilst all puppies bred by Kennel Club Assured Breeders will be Kennel Club registered, not all Kennel Club registered dogs are bred by members of the Assured Breeders Scheme. The Kennel Club’s registration system is a simple record of a pedigree puppy’s birth rather than a quality standard. If you buy a Kennel Club registered puppy, you will be given a Kennel Club breed certificate for your puppy by the breeder, which contains information about your puppy’s ancestry. The Kennel Club registers around 250,000 puppies every year. 

What about mixed breeds such as cockapoos, labradoodles, etc?

In recent years, there has been a growth in popularity for certain cross breeds of dogs. This includes the Cockapoo, Labradoodle, Cavapoo, Maltipoo, Goldendoodle and Cavachon.

The Kennel Club doesn’t hold a register of breeders for these popular mixed breeds. However, some of these breeds are represented by their own associations that hold registers of approved breeders. If your choice of dog isn’t listed below, you should take extra care to find a good breeder. Bear in mind that the more popular the type of dog, the more likely they are to be bred and sold by unscrupulous puppy traders. 

Contacting a dog breeder

Once you’ve found a dog breeder, you can contact them to find out more about the puppies. Bear in mind that some breeders may not have puppies available on demand. However, it’s much more important to find a good breeder and wait for a litter of puppies, than to rush into getting a puppy from a breeder that you are not sure about. 

A good breeder will be happy to chat to you and answer your questions over the phone and maybe introduce you to mum and her puppies via Facetime, WhatsApp or Zoom, before arranging for you to visit. They will also want to know about you to make sure that you can give one of their puppies a good home. 

Arrange to visit a litter of puppies at 4-6 weeks old, rather than when they ready to go. This will give you time to meet the puppies with their mum in the place where they were born and choose a puppy that is right for you. 

This also allows you to prepare for your new arrival, shop for the new puppy essentials, book time off work to settle your puppy in and organise care for your new puppy if you will need to be away from the home during the first few months. 

A good breeder will also be happy to use the Puppy Contract. The Puppy Contract is a legally-binding contract of sale between yourself and the breeder, which enables you to get all the information you need from the breeder before committing to buy a puppy. 

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