Well, finally, the time has come to buy a puppy. However many of us face the same questions and dilemmas so let’s see what we can do to make a right decision....

Where’s the best place to buy a puppy?

There are quite a few options here.

Pet shops are a handy place to shop. You can come and go, see the pup as many times as you like and make up your mind without rushing. Buying a puppy from a pet shop does have benefits. The pups are usually vaccinated, vet checked, fleaed, wormed and come with a health warranty. Pet shops often supply a pup with desexing/microchipping/vaccination vouchers so first visits to a vet are going to be cheaper. Pet shops can not guarantee the breed of the dog and often tell you what they were told by a breeder. So if you are looking for a pure bred pet, pet shops may not be the best place to start looking.

Registered breeders offer a specific breed you may fancy. Cost wise there is usually not much difference from a pet shop unless you want a rare breed or need a pedigree. Always look for a respected breeder and good ones usually have a long waiting list and are members of different breeding associations. Pet expos are a good place to get in touch with them and talk face to face. Serious breeders often have their stock tested for congenital diseases depending on the recommendation of the club or association.

RSPCA and Animal shelters offer good deals and most pets come desexed, heartwormed, vaccinated and purchase cost is very reasonable. Also you’ll feel good because you adopted or saved a dog. Shelters may not have a great choice of breeds and what is available may not be to your liking but sometimes you have to compromise. The best time to go shopping is 1-2 weeks after Christmas or Easter. Your Local Vet may have a pet that needs a new home so don’t overlook this possibility.

What breed is suitable for you?

This is usually quite straightforward. If you need a guard dog to keep intruders away buying a tea cup size Chihuahua won’t be sufficient. The size of your property, time you have to spend with the dog, and your lifestyle all dictate what you can get. Have a look at our Breed Selector and you might find the answer....

Can you afford a dog?

Having a dog may be very trendy but if your favourite celebrity has it that does not mean you should have one too. Also there is a good chance that he/she has more money than you do to look after it....

Generally speaking it is not a good idea to spend 1000-2000 AUD on buying a dog and not being able to pay for a vaccine or intestinal worming tablet. Dogs need care too and the cost of the purchase is the cheapest part of dog’s ownership. There are many costs to come including food, health care, emergencies, surgeries, pet insurance and others. Call your local vet and ask them about the costs of dog ownership and how much you can expect to pay for certain procedures. Most vets won’t mind this and could give you the answer on the spot.

What do I look for when buying a puppy?

1. Have a look at littermates and parents
Make sure the whole litter looks happy and roughly all littermates are similar in size.
Make sure the parents look OK to you and look like a breed you want.

2. Check out their living conditions
Good breeders have reasonable facilities. If the facilities are poor the pups may not be good either.

3. Ask if the pups are vaccinated, wormed, heartwormed and microchipped
It is important to know this so you know what to do next and how much you have to pay for vaccinations, worming, heartworm and other costs. Responsible breeders vaccinate and worm their dogs.

4. Body, Coat and Posture
The puppy should be presented nicely with a clean and shiny coat free from fleas, dandruff and black dirt that could be flea dirt. A flea or two is not a big problem. The puppy should be lively, playful and approach to you readily; it should be walking without any problems and no lameness should be present. The puppy may have a bit of doggy smell; this is quite normal. Also some doggy breath may be present but it should not be excessive.

5. Head
There should not be any nasal discharge and the nose should be nice and wet. Eyes should be lively and clean and there should not be any abnormal discharge. Some ear wax is expected but it should be light yellow in colour. The dog must be able to shut their mouth with teeth interlocking and jaws aligned. The normal colour of gums is pale pink. Check the dog’s hearing and see if it responses to your voice. Try to clap your hands behind the pup and see if it flinches. Make sure the pup can see and is not stumbling over or bumping into objects.

6. Chest and Belly
Make sure there are no hernias visible on the pup’s belly. They look like bubbles/lumps and are usually located in the groin area and at umbilicus (belly button). They are often not a life-threatening problem but you may have to pay extra to have them fixed. The belly should not be over distended unless the pup had a meal recently. A potbellied pup may be infested with worms. Make sure the pups are not severely malnourished and skinny since this is often bad news.

7. Legs
Make sure there are no obvious deformities. Some dogs have back dew claws and these sometimes have to be removed which could be additional cost.

8. Back end
Make sure there is no redness around the bottom and the dog is not soiled with diarrhoea. There should not be any blood around the back end either.

9. Testicles in male pups
Testicles may not be present at the time of exam and it can take up to six months to descend. Dogs that are intended for breeding must have two testicles.

Common Faults in Breeds

Many breeds have hereditary weaknesses, and a number of these can present at an early age. We recommend you check the breed selector on the Vets4Pets website. Learn to spot the signs of faults in the breeds you like before you go inspecting puppies.

What if You’re Still Not Sure?

Offer the seller proof of your contact details and a deposit (get a receipt). Then arrange for a consultation with your local vet to check over the puppy you want to buy. Avoid any seller who refuses this reasonable request or whose contact details can’t be verified.

What Breed is Suitable for You?

We encourage owners to make appointments in advance by telephone or by visiting Vets4Pets in person. When making your appointment please let us know the name of your favourite vet, and we will do our best to make them available for you.

If you have any questions, please contact your local Vets4Pets practice.