So you’ve finally decided to buy a puppy? Dogs can bring joy, laughter, love, loyalty, protection and companionship into your life. However, there are a few things you need to be aware of before you choose the puppy you wish to bring into your home. Use the following checklist to ensure you purchase the puppy that’s right for you.

Photo: Elena Mozhvelo

The Breeder

  1. Is the breeder experienced with the breed of puppy you are choosing? Can she answer any questions you have? Will she stand behind the puppy if problems arise?
  2. Has the breeder explained all the pros and cons of the breed you have chosen? Every dog has good and bad characteristics and the breeder should make you aware of them.
  3. Has the breeder asked for the puppy be enrolled in obedience school? Today many reputable breeders insist on this and lots of vets practices now hold puppy socialisation classes for owners
  4. Has the breeder offered you a starter kit? Many breeders offer customers a package when they purchase a puppy. It should include instruction on the care of the dog, at least one dog care book for the specific breed you are purchasing, a sample of the puppy food that the puppy has been being fed.
  5. Has the breeder discussed crate training with you? The breeder should inform you on how important it is to crate train your puppy, explain how useful crates can be and instruct you on how to use the crate. Crates can keep your puppy safe from harm.
  6. Does the dog breeder have your puppy’s papers in order? You and the breeder should have a contract that you both sign, as well as a pedigree. Reputable breeders sell puppies with a spay and neuter requirement. This means you don’t receive your puppy’s papers registration application until the puppy has been spayed or neutered. All stipulations should be specified in the contract and explained to you so that you fully understand what your responsibilities are. There should never be an extra fee for your puppy’s pedigree.
Photo: Daniel Maas


  1. When a breeder takes you to see the puppies, take note if they appear healthy and clean. Puppies should have bright, sparkling eyes, a healthy looking coat, clean ears and no odour. They should be active, frisky and full of life.
  2. Ask the breeder if the puppies have been de-wormed and vaccinated. If they have, the veterinarian would have issued a report stating exactly what was done.
  3. Ask the breeder if the puppies have been checked for hereditary diseases and conditions. Ask if the pups have been certified in these areas.
Photo: Justin Veenema


  1. Are the puppies active, friendly and fascinated by people? Do they come running to meet you when approached? Puppies love being held, petted, played with and they should have outgoing personalities. If puppies shy away when you approach, buyer beware. You might want to consider choosing a different breeder.
  2. Is the mother dog attractive and friendly? Is she clean and does she look as if she is well cared for? By the time puppies are old enough to be weaned, the mother shouldn’t be overprotective of them or act in an aggressive way when you approach. If the puppy’s father is around, he should be friendly and greet you with ease. Never buy a puppy if either of his parents is aggressive. Dog aggression is often hereditary and you don’t want a dog that has a bad temperament.
  3. Are the puppies old enough to be sold? Puppies should not be separated from their litter until they are between 6 and 8 weeks old; 8 are best. On the other hand, puppies should have homes before they are 10 weeks old to prevent them from becoming dependent on their mother and siblings.
  4. Has the breeder begun to socialise the puppies? If the puppies have spent time with humans and have been given proper care, attention and training, it will be obvious in the puppy’s reaction to you. It’s imperative that puppies become socialised at a very early age.
Photo: Ayla Verschueren

Your Responsibilities

  1. Are you committed to the dog that you’re planning on purchasing for the rest of its life? Purchasing a puppy is not something to be taken lightly. You are committing to the care, training and health of the dog and to love it and tend to its every need. Dogs, depending on the breed and life’s circumstances, usually live 10 years or more.
  2. It is your responsibility to make sure it is in good health and happy as long as it lives. A dog is not a toy that you buy and then toss it in the corner when you’re tired of it. Dogs are living things that have to be nurtured. They have to be cared for and take as much, or more, care as a child.
  3. Owning a puppy is a very serious commitment and not to be taken lightly. If you are willing to spend the next dozen or more years caring for your dog, then by all means bring one into your life. You will have a firm bond to each other and spend many happy hours interacting together.


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