1. Not doing enough research
Research is the key to finding a healthy, happy puppy that suits your lifestyle and your family, and is not something that you can just skim over. Research downwards from the type of gun dog dog you want to establish a breed or shortlist of gun dog breeds, learn about their traits and any health issues they may be predisposed towards, and if you are considering a gun dog from a specific named breeder or bloodline, research that too! There is no such thing as ‘too much research’ when it comes to choosing a new puppy.
2. Buying the first puppy you see
Most dog lovers can honestly say that they never met a puppy they didn’t like. All puppies are gorgeous, which is what makes it so easy to turn up for an initial viewing and walk out half an hour later having put down a deposit right away and without giving yourself some time to think about things objectively. Don’t buy or put a deposit down on the first puppy you see- even if it does end up being the right one. Come away from the litter and give it at least a day’s thought before committing to a decision.
3. Buying the cheapest puppy of the breed that you can find
Pedigree puppies are expensive- there’s no getting away from that fact. With some breeds changing hands at over £1,000 per puppy, getting a pedigree puppy with papers is not a cheap undertaking. If you find that a seller or breeder is offering up puppies for sale at a price that is significantly cheaper than others of the same breed, this may be a genuine bargain to be had- but there is more than likely an underlying reason for it. Are the puppies definitely prue breed, and do they have the papers and traceable bloodline to prove it? Does the litter perhaps have a strong predisposition to a genetic health problem that the breeder is not telling you about that is making them cheap? It is important to find out, before it’s too late.
4. Not listening to your instincts
When you go to see a litter that you are considering buying from, listen to your instincts. What are they telling you about the seller or breeder, the environment that the dogs are being kept in and the condition of the puppies? Do you believe that this is the puppies’ genuine home, and that everything is as it seems, or does there appear to be something going on underneath the surface that you are not aware of? If something feels wrong, it probably is.
5. Rushing into a decision
When visiting a litter, it can be easy to feel pressured into making a decision. Perhaps the breeder is already telling you about how fast the puppies are going, and how other people are visiting the litter when you leave, or perhaps you just don’t want to miss your chance. There is a fine line between not rushing into a decision without thinking it through and missing the puppy you are hoping for, but it is always best to err on the side of caution- there will be other litters! Any genuinely caring breeder will respect you for not rushing into a decision on the spot, and you should never feel pressured by them.
6. Not seeing the dam with the puppies
It is often possible to see the sire of the litter, and you should do so if offered the opportunity. However, it should always be possible to see the dam- the puppies should be with the dam if under 12 weeks old, and the dam should still be nearby even after they are weaned if the breeder or seller genuinely owns them. If for any reason you are told that you cannot see the puppies with the dam or that the dam is not present (until the pups are significantly older) then walk away.
7. Accepting the papers ‘later on’
Pure breed puppies come with Kennel Club registration papers and formal birth certificates displaying their lineage in the form of a pedigree (family tree). This understandably takes time to process by The Kennel Club and the relevant bred societies, but there should always be a paper trail of documents submitted and the paperwork for the sire and the dam of the puppies. Do not make a commitment to buy or hand over any money until you have seen them, and have receipts showing the papers for the puppy you are buying. Do not take it at face value that the breeder will forward papers of provenance that you have seen no evidence of to you later.
8. Not getting the puppy health checked
Getting any puppy you are considering buying health checked by a vet of your own choice is something that any responsible breeder or seller will agree to, although the cost of this will of course have to be borne by you, and you will be unlikely to be allowed to remove the puppy from the home. If you are considering buying a puppy of a breed that has a known genetic predisposition to any hereditary health defects, you may also wish to have further testing performed to identify if any risk factors are present.
9. Believing that the breeder is the font of all knowledge
Breeders are generally very knowledgeable dog owners, and are often experts in the field of the breed that they are renowned for. However, breeders are not veterinary surgeons, and their advice, guidance and help should not be taken as a substitute for veterinary treatment and advice. If your breeder says something in contradiction of your vet, your vet is the professional that you should be listening to or seeking further clarification from.
10. Not getting a formal contract of sale drawn up
When you have finally picked your puppy, arranged the sale and paid the agreed price, you will generally get a receipt for your purchase from the breeder or seller (and should of course insist upon this!) but this may not be enough. You might be paying upwards of £1,000 for your new puppy- where do you stand if something goes wrong? What if your new puppy is quickly found to be suffering from some kind of health or hereditary problem that will affect their life or cost a significant amount of money to correct? It is important to have a formal contract drawn up and signed by both parties to denote clearly the terms and caveats of the sale, and the breeder’s liability and responsibilities. Don’t wait until later on down the line and hope you don’t have any problems before finding out what your comeback is!