How to buy a dog

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There are many lifestyle changes to consider before you buy a dog. Of course, once you’re fully aware of your responsibilities, you need to think about how to buy a dog. You could buy a dog from a private owner or a rehoming centre and this may turn out to be one of the best decisions you ever make. Here, we take you through our puppy buying guide to give you the lowdown on how to get a dog. 

Are you ready for a dog?

So, you want to buy a pet dog. It’s easy to understand why: dogs are mostly affectionate, loyal companions that bring joy to children and adults alike. But before you research places to buy dogs, it’s important you think about the implications that dog ownership will have on your lifestyle. 

  • Do you have the time to look after a dog? You will need to factor in regular walks, so if your daily schedule means your dog will be left alone for long periods, you should think twice about committing to getting a dog.
  • Do you have a support network? It’s a good idea to consult your family and friends to ensure someone is happy to look after the dog if you’re away on holiday.
  • Will you be a responsible owner? Ultimately, you have a legal responsibility under the Animal Welfare Act to ensure your dog has a suitable home, a good diet and appropriate health support.
  • Can you afford to own a dog? Remember that owning a dog is a long-term financial commitment, and the costs include annual health checks, essentials like food, toys and bedding and of course Pet Insurance which isn't a must but it is important!
  • Do you have the energy? Dogs require a lot of interaction, so even if you think you’re a dog person, dealing with all that boundless energy, care and attention is going to be a challenge. 

If you’ve considered all these responsibilities and you’re still shouting ‘I want to buy a dog!’ from the rooftops, then it’s time to choose which pooch is right for you. 

Your puppy buying guide

In terms of how to get a puppy, there are some golden rules to follow. First, it’s important to decide which breed is suitable for your lifestyle and circumstances. Each breed has different characteristics and requirements; high-energy dogs such as Border Collies and Jack Russell Terriers suit active outdoor lifestyles, while smaller dogs like Pugs and Yorkshire Terriers require less exercise and are popular with city dwellers. You will also want to consider the different grooming requirements of each breed; Shih-Tzus, for example, need regular grooming and bathing. Moreover, some dog breeds such as Boxers and English bulldogs are more susceptible to health problems, so you should consider your pet insurance costs in advance. 

The advantage of choosing a pedigree breed is that you’ll have a good indication of the dog’s personality before you make a decision. For example, Golden Retrievers are known to be affectionate and great with kids, but are therefore less suitable as guard dogs; German Shepherds are protective and will guard your home, while Beagles crave attention and suit active lifestyles. 

Alternatively, many crossbreed dogs are thought to have fewer inherited health conditions. For people of retirement age, greyhounds are popular due to their less rigorous exercise requirements, while poodles can be well-suited to owners with limited mobility as they shed minimal amounts of fur around the house. 

Where can I buy a dog?

  • Rehoming centres: Animal shelters are some of the best places to buy a dog, and a no-brainer if you want to give a rescue animal a loving home. When you visit an accredited shelter – run by the RSPCA or Blue Cross, for example – you will have peace of mind knowing that the dog will have received veterinary checks, as well as the necessary vaccinations and microchipping. The staff at the rehoming centre will also be able to give you a good sense of the dog’s personality, which could be a big help when narrowing down the right dog for you.
  • Breeders: There are many responsible dog breeders who wish to find loving homes for their litter. If you’re wondering how to get a dog that’s a particular breed, then you may want to consider a trip to a licensed breeder. You can usually identify a good breeder based on whether they have a waiting list for their puppies, give lots of information about the animal and take an active interest in you and your circumstances. They will need a dog breeding licence if they run a business that breeds and sells dogs, or if they breed five or more litters per year and sell any of the puppies.
  • Private sellers: If you’re buying a dog from a private owner, you must take precautions to ensure the animal is being sold lawfully. You can ask the seller to complete The Puppy Contract – recommended by The Dogs Trust and other animal welfare organisations – which ensures there is a record of the animal’s breeding and care needs. You should never buy a dog from a pet shop, as many of the animals will have come from illegal puppy farms and may have been removed from the litter too young, which leads to poor socialisation and a lack of training. 

Take your time before buying a puppy

You should never be rushed into buying a dog from a private owner, and you should make sure you visit the puppy a few times before you decide to take them home. You will want to see the puppy in its litter with its mother, as this will indicate whether it has been raised in a happy environment and gained early social skills. Moreover, in your meetings you can establish a rapport with the animal and determine whether the puppy is right for you. If you still want to buy a dog after these encounters, you should learn about the puppy's current health status. Your Puppy Contract should detail any vaccinations – with an accompanying vaccination card signed by the vet – and you can examine the puppy yourself for any visible signs of ill health, such as sores, discharge and dental problems. Remember that, by law, your dog must be microchipped by the time it’s 8 weeks old, so make sure you ask for a microchip certificate, vet records or a pet passport when buying a puppy. 

So, you’ve worked out how to buy a dog but you’re still not sure which breed is right for you? Find out more with our breed selector and discover what kind of dog would choose you as its owner!

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