Where to get a puppy
The best breeders often don’t need to advertise. Just as a queue can be the sign of a good restaurant, so the most reliable breeders may have waiting lists, with many puppies already matched up with a home before they’re born.
If you’re looking for a pedigree puppy, finding these breeders can take a little legwork. If you can, it’s worth attending events and talking to breeders there, talking to other owners and seeking out their recommendations, or getting to know a breeder personally.
You can also find them through the breed club. Many breed club websites will have a list of breeders and a puppy listing page. Call the club’s puppy secretary to discuss your wants and needs – they should be able to tell you where to look and who to contact.
The Kennel Club also has an online service to help people find a puppy. Rather than picking one of the pups available at the time, consider using this as a way to get to know a breeder, and perhaps arrange a visit or discuss plans for a future litter.
Just like pedigree breed clubs, most popular crosses will have their own club with a registry of respectable and passionate breeders. Most popular crosses will also have annual events or meet ups – a great place to ask questions, seek out recommendations, and get to know breeders and owners.
Places to avoid
There are many websites out there that advertise litters for sale online. Some are specific to dogs and other pets, but puppies also appear on some more general private marketplaces.
These sites are monitored and regulated, of course, but in general it’s harder to avoid unscrupulous breeders here than in a breed club listing.
It’s also best to avoid signs by the side of the road, adverts in the local paper and flyers in local shops.
The same is true of social media. Facebook rules no longer allow the sale of animals, so if you spot something that’s slipped through the net, it’s best avoided too.
A note on rare colours and coat patterns
Breeders advertising rare features, like a rare colour or coat pattern, may not always be acting in the best interests of their pups and the breed.
In Dachshunds, for example, there’s been a rise in popularity for “blue” Dachshunds. This unique coat comes at the cost of close inbreeding and a higher risk of lifelong skin and health issues.
The “merle” gene (or “dapple” in Dachshunds) also warrants caution. Sometimes seen in sheepdogs, it leads to a beautiful coat pattern, but breeders who mate two merle dogs risk health problems like blindness and deafness. The Kennel Club doesn’t allow these puppies to be registered.
Merle coat patterns have also been spotted in some other breeds, suggesting an outcross with a breed that has the gene. Again, check with the Kennel Club – and as a rule, remember that a rare colour or coat pattern may suggest greater inbreeding and a greater potential risk of health issues, so it’s always worth researching carefully.