What To Look For

What To Look For
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New Laws

Over the last decade or so finding your perfect puppy has become a minefield; with the lovely pleasure that you should have in choosing a puppy turning into some peoples nightmares. Puppy farms flourished, unscrupulous people sold tiny pups from the boot of the cars in motorway service stations and to the point of peoples loved pets being stolen in broad daylight and swept away to be sold to an unsuspecting buyer hundreds of miles away.

But as from October 2018 new legislation has been put in place to rid us of the worries of buying a pup from the wrong people and VERY importantly so help safeguard the animals in question.

So what do these regulations actually do?

The new regulations mean that anyone selling or breeding puppies for profit will need to be licensed. This could even apply to a friend or neighbour if they are making a profit from the sale of the puppy. Licensed breeders or sellers will have to display information on their adverts about their licence, including their licence number and the name of the local authority that issued it. Anyone breeding has an inspection once a year with the local Environmental Health Officer plus an impartial vet. They will also do at least one unannounced visit a year. The new regulations in place are extremely thorough, well thought through and implemented precisely.

So where do I begin?

For the majority of people, their search for a puppy does begin online. So any website selling puppies has had a lot more safeguarding regulations put in place. You can still advertise online but the actual transaction must be done in person and on the premises where the puppy has been kept. The puppy should also be shown alongside the mother before a sale is made.

However, there are more traditional routes to be taken (however the above still stands) in finding a pup, try asking at your local vet if they can recommend someone locally, plus looking at local papers and local ‘free-ads’ can be helpful too.

Be prepared to travel. A good puppy from good parentage is worth a few hours driving. Avoid bringing your children for your first visit. You need to be sure it’s the right breeder and puppy for you, and your kids will only get very excited and make you forget all the questions you wanted to ask.

Be prepared to wait. A good puppy is not going to fall into your perfect time schedule. If you have holidays and family commitments booked then you need to put your puppy buying on hold until you have enough quality time to give the pup a head start in their new life.

A decent phone call is essential – you need to have a few questions to hand (easy ones) that can lay the foundation of when you meet the owner / breeder and the puppies.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Will I be able to see the mother (dam) of the litter?
  • Can I see the father (sire)? If not, who is he and where is he?
  • Are either of the parents Kennel Club registered?
  • How old are the puppies now?
  • When are they ready to leave?
  • What do I get for my money?
Puppys Vacinations
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The last question might seem a bit rude, but you need to know that the puppy will be vet checked and inoculated at eight weeks by the owner. Ideally, you want to know the pup was vet checked at birth first and foremost. Also, you must insist that your puppy will be checked and vaccinated by a vet before he / she leaves the owner / breeder. This is responsible dog breeding. Many small things can be wrong, none of which you should be dealing with. ‘Flow’ murmurs in the heart are often detected at the eight week vaccination vet check. These are 99% likely to have disappeared by the last ten – twelve week check. But you need to know and make your own choice on this, not have it forced on you.

If the puppy has been docked, the breeder legally has to have the puppy microchipped for you. You have to also be given (again by law) the original legally docked certificate.

If the phone conversation goes well, and you come off the phone excited and eager, then you are off to a good start. If you come away feeling a bit ‘wrong’ then maybe that’s not the puppy for you. Trust your gut instinct.

You can always do a bit of research before you leave, write a list of questions, however silly they sound, they are important to you and therefore must be asked. If the parents are Kennel club registered then you can ask for their pedigree names and / or registration number and have a look for them on the Kennel Club website.

Meeting the puppies for the first time:

Mum And Pups
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Appearances do matter. Have a look round where the pups are kept, it doesn’t matter if it’s not all brand new, but does it look clean and looked after? Puppies and kennels do have a certain smell, breeders and dog owners do become used to it, but it should not be overpowering. The water bowls should be full and clean. Bedding should be so clean that you would happily sit on it.

How do I choose my puppy?

Cute Pup
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Puppies can be a little shy, to begin with. They don’t all come bounding over to see you. Some will sit in a corner observing you, and when they decide you look ok and friendly enough they will wander over to say hello. Don’t be put off pups like this; they are just cautiously considering their opinion about you! Some people will say avoid the shyer ones, but there is also the thought process that some pups (and subsequently dogs) have the ability to think before they act. Cautious and considerate puppies are rather good at not enthusiastically knocking over your toddler or an elderly aunt with a walking stick.

Make sure you meet the mum; there are no reasons or excuses why you should not. Some bitches are quite happy letting you be around their offspring. Some are VERY unhappy about it. If the latter is the case then, you should see the mum with the pups, watch how they interact together and then most breeders will take the mum away so you can have a closer look.

It is at this point you can ask all of your questions. If you are a novice it is always good to know how much back up you will get from the breeder (whether they be a professional one or just a private family / person) once you have taken the puppy home.

Don’t be pushed into anything. If it doesn’t feel right, then walk away.

What to look for in your Sprocker:

Mums Features
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You would have in your mind’s eye exactly what you want. Have a look at the Mothers features, the length of her nose, and the broadness of her head, her general stance. Is this what you like? Even if she is not the colourway you are after (i.e. you are looking for a liver and white male Sprocker and you are looking at a black bitch pup) her physical characteristics will be inherited. See if you can have a look at the Sire too. Even if it’s not in person then there should photographs available for you to see. Decide which one you prefer and then you can work your way through the pups. You often find that a Sprocker litter are very difficult to tell apart if they are one colour (i.e. chocolate), their defining features will be the small amounts of white marks on them, more often or not on their belly’s, but also they can have white chests, chins, toes and occasionally stars on the crown of their heads.

Have a look through those features as well as the shape of the head, and general stance of the pups. Paws can always be a good indicator of the pups to what size they will grow in comparison to their siblings. Do ask the breeder their opinion too, they have been with this litter from conception until your point of choosing, and they should know the Mother (and often the sire) incredibly well and should be able to see which parent the pup looks most like. If the mum has had a litter before it is worth asking to see some of her pups from a previous litter too.

Meeting the sire and dam (parents):

The character of the parents is a very important factor for you. Two hyperactive parents will mean a very bouncy dog – is this what you want? Two quieter more thoughtful parents will mean a puppy that is more grounded – maybe this is better for your toddler or for your elderly aunt with a walking stick that visits on a Sunday? Don’t be put off by the last puppy either, as long as he / she fits into the desired character then it’s actually a Godsend in not having to pick between five very similar pups.

It is perfectly normal to be asked questions by the breeder. They do need to know what experience you have with dogs, where you live, and how much time you have to look after their puppy once it leaves their home. In fact, be worried if the breeder didn’t seem interested in you!

Finally, do expect to pay a deposit for your puppy. This is to show your commitment to the pup, and to the breeder. Make sure you get a receipt with an agreed final total to be paid written on it and signed. At this point, you just need to double check what you are getting for your money. So be quite clear in asking.

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The Sprocker Spaniel Club - What To Look For