- Nov 12, 2015
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All the following is IMO, and stuff I've kept an eye out for when getting my babies.What do you look out for, what are the signs?
Make sure the Dam looks healthy, happy and trusting - well looked after, and part of the household. Can you hear what is essentially a kennel in the background? How does the dam respond to the humans in the family?
See both the vaccination records for the Dam, and a photocopy of the same for the sire.
See vet's reports for the Dam, and a photocopy of the same for the Sire - different breeds have different things that need looking for.
Can you have contact details for the Sire's humans? Same goes for pups from previous litters. If you're even slightly dodgy about it all, follow up those contacts as well - ideally do so anyway.
Are both Dam and Sire kennel club registered? How far back are their family histories traced (look back at least 4 generations with no crossing).
Does everything feel comfortable and normal? what does your gut tell you about the set-up.
Have the pups been vaccinated / microchipped? Can you seen the ultrasound scan during the pregnancy? Does it look like a generally doggy house (smell of dog, toys / bones spotted about the place etc)?
Then you can look at the puppies.
Do they all look healthy and chubby? are they individually marked (different collars / harnesses each)?
Are the pups listless, or utterly disinterested (unless simply knackered) - are you seeing the whole litter, or just 1-2 "unclaimed examples"? Is the puppy crate clean and hygienic (given that they're not exactly going to be litter trained)? Are there toys etc to provide stimulation, and is water available for them to drink as desired?
If that's all clear, then start "selecting" a puppy - you're mostly interested in a pup who's interested in you - basically, interact with all of them, and let one of them chose you - you only really get a say in the matter if multiple pups try to adopt you. Anything else (gender, markings etc) are utterly irrelevant in a dog that you are going to love unconditionally for the next 12-14 years. Equally, give them time; unless they're asleep when you arrive, spend a good 15+ minutes with the whole litter (and a good length of time with the Dam), letting them get used to you, before you start assessing for which one you want.
Big red flags would be things like "The house is a mess, I'll meet you by the road with one of the pups" "The dam's out on walkies at the moment" "we don't believe in vaccinations / vet checks / microchipping" "she'll be ready to collect in time for christmas then".
Any evasiveness towards you seeing the the whole litter, the dam, or getting the contact details for the sire, previous litters etc etc. Basically, if they want to starve you of information, walk away. If the dam or the pups are looking malnourished or particularly unhealthy; or the operation feels too much like a scam, report to the RSPCA. Even if you feel sorry for the pups, and just want to rescue them, you help no-one by giving the puppy farmer money and doing nothing to discourage them in the future.