After what has seemed like forever (8 years to be exact) I finally decided now was the right time to get a puppy. It took about 6 months before we decided on a breed, age, found a breeder and another 4 months before we took little Finn home. I really struggled to find info, so really hope this post would be useful to people.
The first thing to do would be to decide whether a puppy or an adult dog is right for you. I’ve had a few pets, and have a house rabbit, Bugsy, who I adopted as an adult.
I know rabbits and dogs are so different, but the main reason we settled on a puppy was Bugsy. I got him at around a year and a half old, and I feel like there are certain things I could have trained him to do, or to tolerate. Things such as having his nails clipped, or just being picked up.
We thought by getting a puppy it would be easier to train it to fit into our lifestyles, instead of having an adult dog, with routines who could potentially be harder to train. We also thought the rabbit would accept a baby animal a lot easier than an adult one, and so far they do seem to get on.
Choosing a breed can be a really lengthy process, and people (a lot of people) will have something to say about this. MY advice here would be to research certain breeds you like, and see if their personalities fit your lifestyle. These aren’t always 100% accurate, but they are a good place to start.
Before I started researching breeds, I was set on getting a Sausage dog. I saw so many on social media (I know, ridiculous reason) but I loved the look of the breed, and from what I saw, they had a good temperament. After doing research I realised sausage dogs were not the dog for me. They are needy, and hate being alone which wouldn’t fit into my lifestyle at all. They were also bred as working dogs, to hunt rabbits- their little legs and long bodies meant they could run down rabbit holes. Not great when I have a pet rabbit.
After careful consideration I chose a pug. They are small but aren’t too fragile, they are friendy and sociable meaning they get on with a lot of other household pets, and they don’t require too much exercise. As a first dog, I thought this sounded perfect for me. As well as all the good points, there are also some negatives that go along with the pug breed. They have short faces so are prone to some health problems, but I knew this before getting the breed so I could insure him with thorough pet insurance, and choose a good breeder.
This is the thing I found the most difficult, and the part of this post I hope helps a lot of people. I live in London, and have always been told not to look for dogs online, but it is so hard to not use the internet these days to find thing, but I have a few tips on what to look for.
Choose the site carefully
I made the mistake of starting my search on pets4homes and other pet sale sites. There were loads of ads for puppies, all ready to collect that day or that week. I didn’t like the idea of not visiting the breeder before picking up the puppy so always had a bad feeling about this. There were some ads on these sites which looked legit but a lot of them looked like puppy farms.
Gumtree is also a place people start searching for puppies, I would also warn to stay away from this site too. I saw a lot of shady ads on here and even reported one ad to a charity who ended up going to rescue a puppy who was for sale with serious health problems.
So where do I find a puppy
I was recommended facebook groups by a work friend, as her family have pedigree cats, and have found good decent breeders on there. I started searching for pug breeders near London and soon signed up to a few groups. I lurked hard for weeks on these groups, and was really happy to see people commenting on dodgy looking posts, warning people against a potential puppy farm.
It was on one of these lurking sprees that I saw someone say their dog should give birth in a few months and she had a waiting list. She also had her own facebook group with photos of previous litters, which allowed new owners to post reviews. I was then put on a waiting list for the next litter.
KC or NOT KC
I would highly highly recommend finding a KC registered breeder. KC means they are registered with the Kennel club in the UK. This gives you some safeguards, as the KC audit breeders. There are rules such as how often a dog can be bred, and inspections which are carried out. KC registered breeders, and a KC registered puppy are also different things so read up on the kennel club and decide if this is right for you.
If you can, make sure you go and visit the breeder and puppy, this usually takes place at 3-4 weeks old. Visiting the puppy gives you a chance to see the conditions the puppies are being bred in, and a chance to meet the puppies parents. When I went to visit the puppy I spent a good hour with the dogs, and got to meet both mum and dad. A visit also gives you a chance to meet the breeder and ask any questions you need to.
There are hundreds of resources online on what to ask a breeder, but the main ones are to ask to see the parents, ask about any health issues the parents have, vaccination records, whether the dog will be microchipped… I’ve probably missed something really important.
Finally – Do not be afraid to walk away if you aren’t happy with the conditions, the breeder or the puppy. This is a lifelong decision so it pays to be careful.
Things can and will go wrong
Just something to end with, things may go wrong, so it’s good to be extra thorough and not to rush into anything.
I was on the breeders waiting list for a black girl. I had no real preference over gender, but was leaning slightly towards a girl. There was one black girl in the litter which I had reserved, however there were some complications, and she sadly passed away. Of the 3 left in the litter 2 were reserved and one black boy was left. I was offered the black boy, or to be put back on the waiting list. I decided to go with the boy, I had no real preference on gender and had this weird bottom of the belly feeling that I would somehow end up with a boy, so it felt right getting him.
I really hope this has been helpful. Obviously this isn’t a thorough definitive list, but hopefully a good starting point for anyone looking to add a furry four legged friend to their home.
Incase you aren’t into reading, I’ve put all of this information in a video on my youtube channel, which you can watch here: