We will always advocate rescuing a dog rather than buying. However there are instances where it makes sense to source a puppy from an ethical breeder. If you are going to do this then you should know what to look out for so you can avoid buying from a puppy farmer or back yard breeder.
The first point to make is that many puppy farmers these days operate a "show home". A show home is used to provide a front for a puppy farm because puppy farmers know that if most people knew the conditions the puppies were born in, and the state of the parents, they would be far less likely to buy a dog. Don't be sucked in by these show homes! The tips below should hopefully help you to avoid falling into this trap:
- Consult our list of registered dog breeders. You can see how many bitches the breeders is registered for on this list. Remember however, that breeders are only required to register with the local authority if they have 6 or more bitches capable of breeding. So legitimate breeders with fewer than 6 bitches may well not be on this list. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us.
- Make sure you go to breeders home and don’t meet somewhere in between. A common trick is for the seller to ask where you live and then mention that they happen to be driving in that direction next week and could meet you.
- Meet the parents! Ask to see the mother. If you’re shown a dog that they claim is the mother - check her condition. Does she look like she’s been nursing pups recently? Check her nails and coat. Are the nails trimmed and coat matt free? Is she comfortable around people? You may be told all sorts of reasons why you can’t see the mother: “she’s tired of the pups and we wanted to give her a break”, “my wife (sister, daughter, aunt, uncle, son, friend) have taken her for a walk”. If they won’t let you meet the mother - walk away.
- Some dog breeds have known health issues that can be prevented by proper health screening of the parents. Talk to someone who knows about dogs and ask about the possible health implications in the dog breed you’re looking for. If there are health implications for that breed ask the breeder whether the parents have been screened for that illness/disease. Make sure you are shown any medical screening certs. Don't take the breeders word for it.
- Check the vaccination card. Make sure it’s a proper vets stamp, not just a scrawled signature and the labels from the vaccine bottles.
- Puppies need to be microchipped and there must be a certificate of registration to certify this. New owners will then need to change the microchip registration into their own name. It’s illegal for puppies to be sold without microchips in Ireland.
- Don’t buy on impulse. Puppyfarmers and bad breeders will try and tell you it’s the last pup in the litter or that they have someone else coming to see it in order to force you into taking the pup there and then. Ignore them. Chances are they’ve another four or five pups stashed in a barn somewhere. A good breeder will want the best for their dog and if that means holding on for a second visit then they won’t have a problem with it.
- Don’t buy a pup that’s too young. Ideally around the 12 week mark is good.
- Watch the pups temperament. How does it behave if you try to handle it? If it seems scared then be aware that this may be the first time it’s had human contact. Incorrect socialisation can lead to behavioural issues in later life. You want a pup that’s naturally curious, lively and alert.
- Google the sellers mobile phone number. If it comes up on multiple ads on Done Deal, etc then you can pretty much guarantee he/she’s in it for profit and not the wellbeing of the dogs.