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Buying a puppy

Advice and guidance if you're buying a puppy

Breeding licence requirement

From October 2018 it became a requirement that a business or individual be licensed if they're breeding more than:

  • three litters of puppies in a year, or,
  • one litter or more if they meet the business test

You can read the full guidance on dog breeding on DEFRA's guidance booklet.

What to consider 

When buying a puppy, consider if who you're buying from is licensed. The licence number should be displayed on any advert, web page or Facebook page, and the licence should be on display at the premises. Always visit the breeder, and never agree to meet them elsewhere.

View the puppy interacting with its mother and litter mates. If possible ask to see the father as well.

The puppy must be microchipped before it is sold. Check the database is updated with your details, either at point of sale or as soon as possible after.

Ask if the puppy has been:

  • socialised with people, their own species and other animals
  • exposed to noises and activities it's likely to experience when you take it home

Ask to see the parent’s history and any health test results (if applicable). Certain health conditions are more common in certain breeds; these can be tested against before the parents are bred from. Always ask for a copy of the puppies medical records, including:

  • vaccination certificates
  • records of worming and flea treatment

You can find information on health conditions for specific breeds on the Kennel Clubs Breed Information Centre.

No puppy can be sold or permanently separated from it's mother before eight weeks of age. 

Don’t be tempted to buy a puppy because you feel sorry for it. If you have any concerns over the welfare of any puppies or breeding dogs in this area, regardless of whether they are from licensed breeders or not, please contact us at

For peace of mind, ask the licence holder if they provide a puppy contract.

Does the puppy look healthy?

Look out for the following:

  • eyes - clear, bright, no dirt or redness
  • nose - cold, slightly wet
  • skin - clean, dry, no soreness
  • fur - shiny, soft, no fleas
  • behaviour - active, friendly, not afraid
  • ears - clean, no smell,
  • breathing - quiet, not laboured
  • mouth - clean, white teeth, pink gums
  • bottom - clean, dry
  • legs - strong, sturdy, no limping
  • ribs - not visible

You can find out more information on the RSPCA website.

You should of course do your own research on what breed of dog is best suited to your lifestyle. And be aware of the ongoing commitments buying a puppy entails. But, a good breeder will provide you with plenty of advice, and be able to answer any questions you may have about the breed.

Lucy's Law

New legislation is coming into force from April 2020, referred to as ‘Lucy’s Law’.

This law will mean that puppies and kittens can no longer be sold by a third party seller (such as a pet shop or commercial dealer) unless they've bred the animal themselves. Anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten under six months of age must deal either directly with the breeder or a rehoming centre.