Pet care - Dogs - Choosing a puppy


- Choosing a puppy -
Make the right choice

Puppies look cute and cuddly, but they may not be the best choice for all dog owners-to-be.

Dogs and puppies need house-training, can be very destructive and may not be ideal for families which have elderly people or very young children.

Puppies may make an elderly person trip or fall, or could be handled roughly or trodden on by a young child. An adult dog may be the best choice for people in these situations.

If you decide a puppy is the right choice for you, here is what to look out for when choosing one:

  • Check the puppy's age and immunisation record

  • Puppies must be at least eight weeks old and should have received their first vaccinations before they leave their mother.

  • Has the puppy's health been approved by a vet?

  • Purchase should be after, or conditional on, a satisfactory veterinary examination.

  • Health checks you can make yourself

  • - Avoid skinny dogs or puppies. Also avoid puppies with potbellies, as they are quite likely to have intestinal worms.

    - Never be tempted to take a puppy with runny eyes, a runny nose or a cough. Teeth should be clean and white. Gums should be pink and not smelly.

    - Make sure the puppy's bottom is clean without any signs of diarrhoea or soreness.

    - Check for fleas and other parasites. Many puppies have them but they can be treated. Brown or yellow deposits in the ears are one sign of ear mites.

  • Check the puppy's dietary requirements

  • Make sure you are given a diet sheet showing how the puppy has been fed so far - moving home is enough of an upset for a young puppy without adding to it by the stress of eating unfamiliar food.

  • Concerned about the welfare of a puppy?

  • Never buy a puppy just because you feel sorry for it. If you are concerned about the health or welfare of a puppy, please contact the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty and advice line: 0300 1234 999. Calls are treated in the strictest confidence.

    Have you considered adopting a pet?
    Many of the animals that come into our care have had a tough start in life. Some are victims of cruelty or neglect, others have been abandoned by their owners. So not only would you be giving an animal a new home, you would be giving a new home to an animal who really needs it.

    What's more, the price you pay to adopt a pet from the RSPCA will include the cost of microchipping, neutering (when necessary), and vaccinations.

    Find out more about adopting a pet from the RSPCA.

  • Be buyer aware - read our simple steps to buying a puppy.

  • Your consumer rights - find out what to do when things go wrong.

  • photo © RSPCA Photolibrary/Andrew Forsyth

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