Buying a pet

The dog breeder checklist: legal, health and welfare

Date updated: 07 05 2019

Looking for a new puppy is so exciting, it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of fluffy tails and tiny paws. As tempting as it may be to pick up the first pup you see and declare them ‘the one’, you need to get to grips with the formal stuff.

In this checklist you’ll find all the national laws, health checks and welfare standards to be aware of when you’re dealing with dog breeders in the UK. Simply tick your way through this list and support the fight against irresponsible breeding while finding the perfect pup for you.

Dogs playing

Welfare standards

When you’re speaking to a breeder, there are some important questions you should ask to make sure your pup has been brought into the world ethically. Below are some general guidelines on what you should look out for from The Kennel Club:

  • The mum (or ‘dam’) should be one to eight years old.
  • A mama dog shouldn’t have more than four litters during her life.
  • When you’re visiting a litter, make sure you see them with their mum in the place they’re living. This is a precaution against puppy farms and illegal importation.
  • Collect your furry friend when they are eight weeks old, minimum. Any earlier might seem like a good idea, but it could be dangerous to separate the pup from their mum so early.

Health checks

Our canine pals aren’t the biggest fans of the V-E-T, that’s no secret. However, to make sure they’re in good health, the following checks are compulsory for every pup before they leave their breeder and go to their new home:

  • Every pup should be wormed and vet-checked before they are sold.
  • Parents and pups should also be checked for conditions common to that breed, such as deafness in Dalmatians. You can find the full list of required checks for each pedigree breed on The Kennel Club website .
  • All health checks should be supported by signed paperwork.
  • Pups can have their first round of vaccinations from the age of eight weeks, depending on your vet’s practice. Find out more about buying a puppy here .

Dog in blanket

Legal stuff

Our canine pals are legally protected under a number of laws and policies, including the Animal Welfare Act 2006. These laws are pretty lengthy - trust us, we’ve read them – so here’s the main information you need to know in bite-size chunks:   

  1. Dogs must have food, water and medical care: Animal Welfare Act 2006
  2. They must live in suitable surroundings and be allowed to act naturally: Animal Welfare Act 2006
  3. It’s illegal to dock a dog’s tail unless for medical purposes or if it’s a working dog: Animal Welfare Act 2006 
  4. Pups must be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks old. When you collect your fur ball from the breeder, you must update the microchip with your home address: Government policy on animal welfare
  5. Learning about the formal stuff might not be as fun as cooing over puppy photos, but it’s really important for the safety of dogs across the country. Now you know which questions to ask, which health checks are compulsory and what to look out for in a breeder, you can get your new pup knowing they’ve come from a safe home, and that you’ve supported ethical breeder too.