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Information Guide - Choosing and bringing home the right dog for you

There are many things to consider as a dog owner. Your responsibilities to your dog and the community are very important to ensure that dogs and their owners are welcomed into society. It is important to know that each breed has its own characteristics. If you match these with your personality and lifestyle, it is much more likely that you will have a happy and fulfilling relationship with your dog.

Considering buying a dog?

Before buying a dog, you must ask yourself:

        Can I afford to buy the dog I want?

        Can I make a lifelong commitment to a dog - a dog’s average life span is 12 years?

        Can I afford between 4.50 and 8.00 per week to feed a dog?

        Can I afford veterinary fees?

        Can I afford to insure my dog?

        Is my home big enough to house a dog?

        Do I really want to exercise a dog every day?

        Will there be someone at home for a dog - dogs get lonely just like humans?

        Will I find time to train, groom and generally care for a dog?

        Will I be able to answer YES to these questions every day of the year?

        If you have answered ‘no’ to any of the above, you should think carefully before buying a dog.

Consider whether you and the prospective dog are:

        Energetic and lively or couch-potatoes

        Strong-willed and ambitious or easy-going and indulgent

        Friendly with humans or reserved with strangers

        Playful or uninterested in toys

        Friendly to other dogs or uninterested or incompatible

        Friendly to cats and other pets or uninterestedor incompatible

        Affectionate or aloof

A Useful Suitability Grid can be found on the Kennel Club website detailing all Kennel Club recognised breeds divided up by breed Group.

Considerations when buying a puppy:

        A pedigree dog is more predictable as to its future character and size than a crossbreed.

        Confirm that the puppy is registered with the Kennel Club and ask the breeder for the Kennel Club registration certificate or, if it is not available, ensure that the breeder undertakes in writing to forward it to you as soon as it is received from the Kennel Club. For more information visit www.kcdogregistration.org.uk.

        The registration certificate will enable you to transfer your puppy into your name from that of the breeder and receive all the benefits associated with Kennel Club registration.

        A crossbreed dog is not as expensive to buy. Try to find out as much as you can about its parents so that you can gauge its future character. You can also register your crossbreed dog with the Kennel Club on the Activity or Companion Dog Registers.

        See the mother (dam), as she will provide a good indication as to how the puppy will develop.

What to look for in adult dogs:

        If buying from a breeder, find out why the dog is for sale.

        See the dog in its home environment before making a decision.

        If buying from a breed welfare or rescue organisation, be prepared to be questioned and possibly expect a home inspection. Dogs in welfare or rescue organisations have often suffered neglect and ill treatment in their early lives. It is therefore the first priority of these organisations to ensure that the dogs in their care will spend the remainder of their lives in good, caring and suitable homes.

        Consider the problems which can be experienced when bitches are in season and the cost of neutering, should this be necessary.

        A good match between owner and dog is essential for a happy long-term partnership. Whether it is a puppy, pedigree, crossbreed, rescue or adult dog, the right dog for your lifestyle is very important.

        Seek out responsible breeders; the Kennel Club operates an Accredited Breeder Scheme and full details can be found on the Kennel Club website. The Kennel Club provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of breeders and Accredited Breeders with puppies currently available. Log-on to www.findapuppy.org.uk or you can phone for a printed list on 0870 606 6750 and you will be sent one of our Puppy Packs.

        The Kennel Club strongly recommends that prospective puppy purchasers obtain information on breed characteristics, health and welfare needs prior to purchase by contacting the relevant breed clubs. The Kennel Club website provides information about the different breeds of pedigree dog, together with lists of breed club secretaries and links to welfare and rescue organisations.

        Canine welfare organisations and rescue societies always have dogs and puppies available that need good homes. Both pedigree and crossbreed dogs can be obtained in this way from organisations such as Dogs Trust, Blue Cross and the different breed rescue societies.

        Veterinary surgeries are an excellent source of information. Staff will give you general guidance on what you should do once you have made your choice.

Where to look? Who to ask?

Finding a breeder:

It is important to start your search in the right place; as previously mentioned, the Kennel Club provides up-to-date contact information on breeders across the UK for all breeds. Breed Clubs are also an important source of contact for prospective puppy owners. Club Secretary contact details are also available on the website and within the Puppy Pack.

If buying a pedigree dog always go to a specialist breeder, not a dealer or a pet shop. A dealer usually advertises several breeds of dog, and these dogs may have been obtained from various sources, so their health and condition may be difficult to determine.

If you are browsing a newspaper, magazine or website for a dog, please follow the guidance issued by the Pet Advertising Advisory Group www.petadvisory.org.uk. Contact the Kennel Club or any major animal welfare organisation for more information.

What to expect from a breeder:

The breeder should give you the opportunity to see the puppy with its mother and the rest of litter. This is very important because it will not only give you an opportunity to see the temperament of the mother, but may also give you an idea of the future characteristics and size of the puppy.

Have the opportunity to see all the puppies and be able to handle them, rather than just seeing the puppy being offered to you.

It is the responsibility of the breeder(s) to register the litter with the Kennel Club and each puppy in the litter will initially be registered in the breeder(s)’ name(s). The breeder(s) chooses the official Kennel Club names for all the puppies.

Under normal circumstances, litter registration with the Kennel Club takes about 14 days, after which time the breeder(s) will receive the registration certificates for all the puppies in the litter. If there is a query with the application the Kennel Club will contact the breeder to resolve and further action may be required which may delay the registration process.

If the dog is advertised as Kennel Club registered, you should ensure that you take receipt of the Kennel Club Registration Certificate. You must then proceed to apply to the Kennel Club to transfer your dog into your own name. Please be aware that you will require the signature of the breeder(s) to complete this. If the registrations certificate is not available at the time of purchase, ensure that you receive an undertaking in writing from the breeder that this will be sent to you when available.

You should ask the breeder for information on the following:

        A Contract of Sale

It is recommended that the breeder provide you with this. Amongst other things this should detail both the breeder(s)’ and your responsibility to the puppy. The contract should also list any official Kennel Club endorsements (restrictions) that the breeder has placed on the puppy’s records, and in particular on what basis the breeder may be prepared to remove the endorsement. Endorsements the breeder may place on your puppy include not for breeding and not for export. Before or at the time of sale, you must give a signed acknowledgement of any endorsement placed.

        Written advice on training, feeding, exercise, worming and immunisation.

        A pedigree detailing your dog’s ancestry – this could either be hand-written or a printed pedigree from either the breeder or an official one from the Kennel Club.

        Copies of any additional health certificates for the sire and dam.

        Just like humans, some breeds of dogs can be affected by inherited conditions. The Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association offer three canine health schemes, which aim to detect and monitor certain inherited conditions. It is important that you are aware of these conditions and know the right questions to ask of breeders before buying a puppy. There are also some DNA tests now available for certain breeds.

        Ask which vaccinations your puppy has had and which ones are still required.

When you have bought your dog, what next?

If you have purchased a Kennel Club registered puppy, the Kennel Club will send you the Puppy Handbook – an essential guide to caring for your puppy – when you transfer the ownership of the puppy into your name. The Puppy Handbook will give you essential advice and information to help you to get off to the best possible start with your puppy.

Those early days

Here are some other key considerations any new dog owner should take into account when bringing a new dog into the home:


        The Control of Dogs Order 1992 advises that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address (including postcode) of the owner engraved or written on it, or an identification tag. Your telephone number is optional.

        Train your dog to use the kerb correctly.

        Always clean up after your dog.

        Keep your dog under control at all times.

        Keep your dog close to you when walking it on a lead.

        Respect the Countryside Code.

        Give your dog the correct amount of exercise and play it needs.

        Feed your dog a balanced, nutritious diet with adequate food and water.

        Worm your dog routinely.

        Register your dog with your local vet, attend annual health checks and ensure your dog is adequately immunised/vaccinated.

        Take out veterinary insurance to cover any unforeseen injuries or illnesses.

        Groom your dog regularly.

        When booking holidays, make suitable arrangements for your dog – do not leave it too late and ensure all vaccination certificates are up-to-date before booking your dog into kennels.

        Consider that adult dogs of either sex may be neutered to prevent unwanted puppies.

        When travelling with your dog always ensure your dog has plenty of ventilation and shade in a car and that fresh drinking water is always available. Never leave your dog unattended in a car for long periods of time, and NEVER in hot weather

        REMEMBER – not everybody loves dogs. Only a minority of the population are dog owners – respect the views of others


        Don’t allow your dog to foul footpaths, parks or public places. Local authorities have the power to make it an offence punishable by a fine. (Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005).

        Don’t allow your dog to interfere with passers-by in the street.

        Don’t allow your dog to make unnecessary noise.

        Don’t take your dog into food shops or places where dogs are not allowed.

        Don’t allow your dog to roam freely in grazed fields or through crops.

        Don’t leave your dog tied up outside shops unattended

        Don’t allow your dog to chase livestock or wildlife.

        Don’t leave your dog alone for long periods of time – dogs feel lonely just like humans.

        Don’t allow your dog to roam the streets or countryside unsupervised.

        Don’t spoil your dog – spoilt dogs are as bad as spoilt children.

        Don’t leave your dog unattended in a vehicle for any period of time or in vehicles on hot days.

        Don’t leave a young child and a dog alone together.

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