Personally I would rather adopt than shop but this really does depend on your personal circumstances and choices. I love seeing puppies for veterinary health checks and vaccinations, and have seen a lot through the Christmas period. I see fewer newly rescued dogs as they tend not to need a veterinary check right away as they have had a vet check with the rescue. There are more puppies for sale then rescue dogs available in the UK but it is often cost-effective to rescue. You do generally have to pay an adoption fee to the rescue centre to help cover their costs but this is rarely more than a few hundred pounds and puppies can cost thousands to buy! Often rescue centres have puppies too so don’t assume rescue centres are just full of old unwanted dogs! No matter how you get a dog the ongoing costs need to be considered before getting your canine companion.
Why a rescue dog may be right for you?
- Save a dogs life! There is often a complicated story of how a dog ended up in a rescue centre and some have had a tough start, but not always. It can be due to owner illness or personal circumstances e.g. moving into rented accommodation where pets may not be allowed.
- Rescue centres spend time working out a dog’s personality and testing them in different situations, for example, with other dogs and on walk in different environments.
- Rescue centres will spend time making sure a dog is a good match for you and your family.
- All dogs come with a degree of risk from the unknown. Whilst some dogs end up in rescues through no fault of their own some do have health or behavioural problems that the rescue centre will make you aware of.
- Rescue centres will also ‘vet’ you to make sure that you have a suitable home. Failed adoptions can be very stressful for dogs so adoptions centres would rather take their time to find a good home rather than rehoming the same dog multiple times.
- Rescue dogs generally already know basic commands and are toilet trained.
- Most rescue dogs will already have been neutered, had treatment for parasites and started their vaccinations.
- Rescuing an adult dog leaves no surprises about their colour, how tall they are and how much they may moult!
You may choose to buy a puppy and this is the right choice for many people. It is important to research your potential puppy very well before going to see any. I frequently get asked what breed people should get and there is no simple answer! Considerations include size, fluffiness, activity levels, possible inherited health problems and temperament. Click here for additional advice about which breed may suit your home.
Once you have decided on a breed, whether pedigree or crossbreed, and found a breeder you need to ask plenty of questions. I’ve tried to summarise them below.
Essential things to ask a breeder when buying a puppy:
- Ask to see the mum and the other puppies. It is important to buy form a reputable and experienced breeder and avoid puppy farming operation.
- Ask to visit the puppy a few times before buying if possible. Always go to see the puppy and do not agree to home delivery or picking them up from a random location as it is likely you may be about to buy a puppy from a puppy farm!
- Ask if they have had a veterinary health check and whether any problems were noted.
- Ask if the puppy has had any vaccinations and if so then ask when and with which brand of vaccine. The vast majority of breeders will have taken the puppies to a vets for a health check and first vaccine. It is very helpful to be able to let your vet know which vaccine was used and the date that it was given to your puppy. This helps us make sure your puppy gets the necessary immunity as quickly as possible and then you can let your pup explore the outside world.
- Ask if they have had any flea or worming treatment – they should have! If they have then please ask the breeder for the name of the products used and the last date they were given so that your new vet can make sure that your puppy are appropriately covered.
- Ask if the puppies are microchipped. By law all puppies must be microchipped and it is illegal to sell a dog without a microchip. (Some tiny toy breeds may have an exemption certificate from a vet if they are too small to microchip before sale). Also ask how your details will be registered to the microchip when you take the puppy home, some breeders will do this for you or sometimes you will need to contact the microchip database yourself and provide a transfer code that the breeder will give you.
- Ask what food the puppies have been eating. Even if you want to feed something different I would advise buying a small amount of the food the puppy has been eating so you can gradually change their diet over a few weeks so that you do not cause any diarrhoea with a rapid diet change.
The RSPCA have some useful information about buying a puppy here.