How to find a puppy or a breeder
I’m writing this for people who have already decided they want to get a puppy from a breeder (rather than a rescue puppy). I’ve helped people to teach their puppies for about twelve years now. Over that time, I’ve seen thousands of owner-handler partnerships and puppies. I continue to see new puppies and their owners every week, at DogWorks. We’ve also bred a litter of labradors under our affix, Galody Gundogs. We’ve received many enquiries from people such as yourselves, looking for a puppy. So this article is written from those perspectives. From seeing the choices thousands of people have made when it comes to finding a puppy. And from receiving hundreds of enquiries for our own puppies.
You can do this ‘right’, in a way which will give you the best chance of having a happy, healthy and well-adjusted companion for many years. Or you can take shortcuts and make mistakes when finding a puppy - jeopardising your chances.
I’m writing this to help you do it ‘right’. Because, believe me - it’s worth it. If you find yourself reading this and going ‘CUT TO THE CHASE, I just want to know where to find a puppy/breeder!!’ - just humour me and read it all. I do get there, I do give concrete links and suggestions in this article. I just want to explain some things, first.
"I’m not a breeder, I just have a litter of puppies..."
Anyone who breeds a litter of puppies, becomes ‘a breeder’. Just like anyone who has a baby, becomes a parent. A ‘breeder’ may have just one litter of puppies, ever. They are still a breeder - of that litter. When breeders say they are ‘not really’ breeders (despite having bred puppies), they are usually suggesting that the responsibilities which apply to ‘real’ breeders somehow don’t apply to them. They are saying they are somehow ‘outside’ all of that stuff you are supposed to do. They should not be held to the same standards. They just had a one-off litter...The problem with this, is that you can’t reason with genetics. You can’t say ‘hey, genetics - don’t give these puppies hip dysplasia, because they weren’t bred by a “real” breeder, ok?’. Nature and nurture works in the same way for all. It doesn’t care if someone defines themselves as a breeder or not. Hold every breeder to the same standards.
Why has this litter been bred? Everyone breeds a litter of puppies for a reason. And the reasons vary. When thinking about where to get a puppy from, ask yourself: Why has this litter been bred? For what purpose? This is one of the most important questions you can ask. A ‘breeder’ is anyone who has bred a litter of puppies. Let’s look at the answers you don’t want to hear, first of all...
- A ‘good’ breeder does not breed for financial profit Why not?
Well, because there isn’t any, if you do things reasonably well. You will be lucky to break even. And if you add in your time, stress, lack of sleep and so on - you will make a huge loss(!). The only way to make a profit, is to breed very frequently; to cut corners with health-testing; to use the nearest stud dog simply because he’s nearest; to raise puppies outside; not to provide ongoing help to puppy-buyers (because there are too many of them); and many more things which are undesirable and not with your future puppy’s best interests at heart. If you can’t figure out why a litter has been bred, and the breeder can’t give you a convincing explanation about why they had the litter - then it’s very likely they are trying to make some money. This is especially the case if they breed frequently - even if this is ‘just’ annually. Of course, no one is going to say ‘I wanted to make a quick buck’, so this is one reason you need to be reading between the lines! In line with this, a ‘good’ breeder will be prepared to say ‘no’. They may say ‘no’ to families with young children. To people who work full-time. To people who plan to emigrate. To people who want two puppies. To people who are not interested in training. Different breeders will have different preferences and it will be breed specific. Although there may be differences in what they are prepared to accept, a good breeder does not just sell puppies to anyone who has the money. Because they care about more than money.
- A ‘good’ breeder does not breed a female dog so she can have just one litter of puppies
There is no reason to do this. A female dog does not ‘need’ to have a litter of puppies to somehow feel fulfilled. She doesn’t need ‘the experience’.It’s not going to change her personality in any controllable way. It’s not going to ‘settle her down’. Or make her more ‘mature’. 95% of female dogs won’t have personality changes after puppies, and the few that do, can change for the worse after all the hormone fluctuations involved in pregnancy and lactation.But really, bringing a whole litter of puppies into the world - up to ten little lives - just to supposedly benefit the mother, in some intangible way...?
- A ‘good’ breeder does not breed because, well, puppies are so cute and because the kids want to see puppies...
Sometimes pups are born dead. Sometimes pups are born with defects and require euthanasia. Sometimes they die for no apparent reason, at a few weeks old. Sometimes the mother gets mastitis. Sometimes the mother has a retained placenta and develops an infection. Sometimes the pups need to be hand-reared - fed every two hours.Real life is pee and poop and death and pain and fear. It’s often not something easy for the kids to experience.And we are back to: Bringing a whole litter of puppies into the world - up to ten little lives - just because the breeder thinks pups are cute, or wants their kids to see them...?
- A ‘good’ breeder does not breed because they love their female dog so much, they want to have another one just like her - so they never ‘lose’ her
The puppies which a female dog produces are not clones. They are only 50% her genes. The other 50% comes from the sire. And then there is the effect of the environment and the way the puppy’s experiences and environment interact with his/her genetics (this is called epigenetics).This explains why, if you take a look around at mother-daughter dogs (and humans!) the world over, you’ll be surprised at how much they can differ! Think about your own family...
- Cloning aside, there is no way to reproduce a dog with the same qualities as the mother.
Dogs teach us a lot about love and loss. Trying to somehow ‘keep’ your dog forevermore under the false assumption that breeding her will preserve her, is not only faulty logic, it is also fighting the inevitable.And we are back to: Bringing a whole litter of puppies into the world - up to ten little lives - just because the breeder doesn’t want to ‘lose’ one particular dog and misguidedly believes they can preserve her, by breeding her...?
- A ‘good’ breeder does not breed because her female accidentally got pregnant
There is a very effective ‘morning after’ injection available from your vet called Alizin. I say ‘morning after’, but it is effective up to 45 days after mating. So there is a long time to get to the vet, afterwards(!). It is also very safe, with few side-effects.This means there’s no reason for litters of puppies from not health-tested parents. No reason for litters with high COIs. No reasons for litters from dogs with undesirable temperaments. No reason for anything which is not a carefully planned and fully intended litter.Unplanned pregnancies happen because female dogs in season were not adequately supervised or separated from males. So, any breeder who says that a litter was ‘accidental’, has 1) not adequately supervised that female dog during her season and 2) has then not had a conversation with their vet about Alizin OR has had that conversation and decided not to use it and to go ahead with the litter anyway. Is this someone you want to entrust to raise your puppy ‘well’, for the formative first 8 weeks of the puppy’s life?
So - what are ‘good’ reasons for breeding a litter?
There is really only one ‘good’ main reason (there are sometimes secondary reasons): To preserve the breed
There are many people out there who ‘love’ particular breeds of dog, but who also detest all breeders. (For producing puppies.) This makes no sense: Breeds of dog can only exist, due to breeders.
Without breeders deliberately selecting which dog to mate with which, we would soon lose all breeds of dog. Gone would be GSDs and Collies and Labradors... and all the rest. Not only their physical appearances, but all their working abilities and strengths would be lost, as well. No more dogs to herd or guard or retrieve things - their abilities diluted, in the larger gene pool. Think about the street dogs in third world countries, who all end up looking much the same... So, again: Breeds of dog can only exist, due to breeders.
If you love certain breeds of dog, know that they can only exist, because of breeders.
If you love the GSD’s loyalty, or the Collie’s focus, or the labrador’s retrieving instinct... know that all of this exists only because it has been selected for and bred for, deliberately.
A good breeder is a ‘guardian’ or ‘custodian’ of the breed. With all the notions of ‘care’ and ‘looking after’ this implies. They are breeding because they want to preserve or - where possible - improve the breed’s appearance; performance; health and temperament. By way of example, if you would like to see a list of what we breed for, with our own litters, you can check out the points on our website here. I hope the thought and planning involved, here, is evident. It’s not to hold us up above others though - you will see similar amounts of thought and planning, from any good breeder. A word of caution: Sometimes ‘improving’ a breed’s appearance (in the eyes of some), actually creates health issues and problems. We can all agree that this is not ‘improving’ a breed. Those who think they are ‘improving’ a breed, when they are breeding for exaggerated features which cause a lifetime of pain and discomfort, are not ‘good’ breeders.
What about crossbreeds? Cockerpoos? Labradoodles?
Crossbreeds, when they are established crosses (like the doodle breeds), really are approaching the point of being ‘breeds’ now. They may not be KC registered (so there is no proof that they are what breeders tell you they are!), but like other breeds they have a range of recognisable temperaments, behaviours, and traits and physical appearances - they ‘are’ a breed in most other ways. They are also prone to the health-issues relating to the breeds which went into making them. You can’t escape health issues simply by purchasing a crossbred dog.
You will need to ensure both parents have been tested for whatever conditions the breeds of origin are prone to - you will need to request copies of health test results. Moreover, because they are not KC registered, you are likely to lack health records going back for for generations - there will be no public record of these, unlike when you purchase a pedigree.Most importantly, you will need to ensure there is a motive beyond financial profit for the breeding of the litter. This is especially difficult, with crossbreeds, since the vast majority of crossbreeds are bred purely for financial profit: They are not KC registered, so they cannot be shown in conformation shows or compete in KC gundog events - they are not bred for these purposes. So why are they bred? There may be some crossbreeds that are bred by ‘good’ breeders - as service dogs, or for agility or working trials - dogs need not be KC registered to compete in some dog sports. But these litters are harder to find.By far the majority of intentional crossbred litters are created purely in response to market demand - because there are people willing to pay money for them. That is - for financial profit. This is why they are the domain of the puppy farmer and the high volume breeder. It is hard to find a breeder who breeds deliberately crossbred litters for any other reason. Some of these big scale breeders of crossbreeds (especially doodle breeds) are getting very good at talking the talk and dressing themselves up as responsible breeders and making websites that are very ‘homely’ - concealing what a large scale operation they are(!). They may health test their breeding stock, but they don’t meet many of our other requirements for ‘good’ breeders!As for other crossbreeds and mutts: Unfortunately, the vast majority of other crosses fall into the ‘reasons not to breed a litter’ categories above... By all means, do rescue - but don’t pay hundreds of pounds for deliberately crossbred litters, thereby endorsing and supporting poor breeding practices.
A word about brachy breeds; GSDs; short-legged breeds...
There is a difference between:
- Breeds like - say - the labrador, or collie - where no one wants to see the existing health issues - breeders, owners, puppy buyers - no one wants these issues. ‘Good’ breeders are using screening programmes to reduce the incidence of disease. No one is breeding ‘for’ the health issues, deliberately.
- Breeds like - say - the bulldog or pug, where the health issues that exist are deliberate and intentionalon the part of show or conformation breeders. These breeds have had certain features over-exaggerated, to the point that they cause a great deal of physical distress. Dogs struggle to breathe. Dogs struggle to cool themselves. Dogs struggle to move their over-sized bodies around. Eyeballs dry out because lids cannot adequately cover them when blinking. Eyelids need tacking up or down, surgically. Eyes bulge out of bracy skulls, predisposing them to injury. Spinal issues develop because breeds with long backs have excessive pressure on the back. There are too many teeth to fit into bracy mouths, so they are crushed together in an abnormal way. Nares (nostrils) are bred to be too narrow, so the dog simply cannot take in enough air through the nose. People think it is ‘cute’ when these breeds snore. They are snoring because they cannot breathe properly. Many of these breeds cannot even mate naturally. They cannot even give birth naturally: Due to wide skulls, they require elective c-sections. I could go on... It’s not just bracy breeds, either - there are other breeds which suffer due to the way they have been bred to appear.
Some health issues exist simply and purely because of the way a dog has been bred to look, by humankind.
These are not health issues which no one wanted and everyone is trying to get rid of. These are health issues which exist because breeders are deliberately breeding for them and, in turn because puppy buyers are pouring money into them by continuing to purchase these puppies.
When I see a dog which has been bred to have over-exaggerated features just for visual appeal, I feel very sad. I don’t see cuteness. I see intentional and deliberate deformity, for profit. Vets are busy performing surgeries to enable these dogs to lead lives which they should be free to lead, without such traumatic and expensive surgical procedures that have the potential to cause side effects and secondary problems. Not for no reason is insurance for these breeds sky high!If you are researching breeds and would like to avoid breeds which have issues like these, I would strongly recommend the excellent book by Pippa Mattinson called Choosing the Perfect Puppy. Pippa pulls no punches and is happy to recommend against certain breeds on this basis. I include this section because I can’t imagine a ‘good’ breeder of certain breeds of dog. Being a ‘good’ breeder means producing dogs with a decent chance of living a long, happy and healthy life - free from human-induced pain and discomfort.
So - what do you get if you choose a ‘good’ breeder?
Although your puppy from a ‘good’ breeder will typically cost exactly the same, as a puppy from a ‘bad’ breeder, you will get WAY more for your money(!). Here are just some of the things I believe are the hallmarks of a ‘good’ breeder:
- Your puppy will come from fully health-tested parents. Many times I’ve had puppy buyers dismiss this one, thinking that they ‘just’ want a pet - all this ‘health-testing’ stuff is surely unnecessary, they think, ‘just’ for a pet dog. My response is: Surely you will love your dog with all your heart, and will not want to see him/her die an early death or suffer? Surely you don’t want to spend thousands on unnecessary vet bills? Even if your dog is ‘just’ a pet! With some conditions (those involving DNA testing) health-testing guarantees that your puppy will not be affected. With other conditions (like hip or elbow scoring), which can be partly caused by environmental factors (long walks; too much jumping when young; stairs...) health-tested parents are not a 100% guarantee that your puppy won’t be affected - but the risk is greatly reduced. There is no ONE definitive list of health tests recommended for each breed so do some research: As a starting point, check out the recommended tests on the KC Assured Breeders list. It is advised dogs have both the ‘Requirements’ and the ‘Recommendations’ on that list, but many ‘good’ breeders will go beyond this and test for further conditions - the Assured Breeders list is just a starting point.
- Your puppy will have a COI at or below breed average. COI stands for Coefficient of Inbreeding. The higher the COI, the more inbred the puppy is. This has many negative effects on health. We know that individuals with high COIs frequently have immune system issues; certain cancers; smaller litter sizes; and other health conditions. The ideal COI (regardless of breed, or even species!) is 5% or lower. You can find out the average COI for your preferred breeds using the KC Mate Select tool online. The average COIs for some breeds, are pretty high - some breeds have COIs around 25%. If the average COI is high on your breed, you might want to consider an alternative breed - or look for a breeder who is actively trying to lower them, somehow. Once you know the average for your breed, you can find out the COIs on proposed litters using another KC Mate Select tool here - you will need to know the KC names of the sire and dam for the proposed litter.
- A ‘good’ breeder will choose the most suitable stud dog for their female, according to the conformation or performance goals they are trying to achieve with that litter - even when that means travelling some distance. This goes back to breeding for a purpose beyond financial gain - breeding to preserve or improve the breed. Jersey is a small island and it is unlikely that the most suitable stud dog, resides here. (Although not impossible.) Taking a female dog to the UK for breeding involves a £450 return ferry trip; accommodation in the UK; a higher stud fee (since typically the stud is more qualified); and the stress of getting the timing right - sometimes progesterone tests, which are blood tests taken by a vet at £80 each - to measure impending ovulation. So, before pregnancy is even achieved, a Jersey breeder using a UK stud has sunk £1K into the prospective litter. (The stud fee for a field trial qualified labrador stud, is £500. The stud fee for an unqualified dog-up-the-road might be free.) You can see why someone who just wants to have a litter of puppies (full stop), is not going to be travelling to the UK or using a qualified stud dog. This means that, if you are looking at a local litter which also has a local stud dog, you need to look at it extra carefully.
- A ‘good’ breeder will not be churning out multiple litters a year. Raising a litter involves a huge investment of time, money and emotional energy. Puppies should be cared about, and loved, before they go to their new homes. There are always worries about the pregnancy and whelping - especially because a ‘good’ breeder cares about the mother and the risks she faces. Like retained placentas and mastitis. As soon as one concern is over, another arises as the puppies grow. Vetting the new homes is time-consuming and stressful. It is exhausting, if done well. No one can do this very frequently, if they are doing it ‘right’ and if they really care. Sure, if someone is more emotionally detached, they can go through this repeatedly, because they are not on an emotional roller-coaster. If someone exports the mess and noise to kennels or a shed out the back, they can breed litter on litter with very little impact on the rest of the household. But these are not ‘good’ breeders. A high volume of puppies being produced, will indicate financial profit as the motive. You don’t want your puppy to come from some corporate breeding programme. You get back what you put in, with puppies - and the more time and energy and love a breeder ‘puts in’ to a puppy, at a young age, the more the new owner will reap in the future. Try to get an idea (maybe from the breeder’s website, or asking directly) how many litters they have produced and when. How many dogs do they have? Do they even state that on their website? Do dogs live in the house or in kennels?
- With a good breeder, your puppy will be raised in the house and exposed to many things, before the age of 8 weeks. Many puppies are raised in kennels or outbuildings and experience nothing beyond their littermates and that barren environment, until they leave. Sometimes pups are born in the house, but shipped out to kennels at the age of 3-4 weeks - which is when their mum stops cleaning up their poop, and when they start making a lot of noise and mess! Yet the socialisation period starts around 3 weeks - so being born in the house achieves nothing for socialisation purposes, if pups are moved outside at 3wks!! A ‘good’ breeder will ensure they are hearing different noises - including household noises (like hoovers, radios, washing machines) and recorded noises (like DVDs of traffic; guns; fireworks) and radios and TVs. A ‘good’ breeder will provide them with different toys and objects to interact with, on a daily basis. A ‘good’ breeder will invite people around to socialise with the puppies. A ‘good’ breeder will habituate them to novelty and a puppy pen will look more like a Jungle Gym than a barren enclosure. This can make the difference between a dog which is generally scared of the world, and a confident and happy and relaxed dog. If you want some idea of the types of things a ‘good’ breeder does, check out our website and the videos there. You can also check out Puppy Culture for an example of a great puppy-rearing system.
- Your puppy’s living area will be kept clean and there will be a designated toilet area. This will ensure toilet-training is a breeze for you to train, when you get your puppy. Puppies that grow up living in their own pee or poop, learn that this is ‘ok’ and have little incentive to toilet outside when you get them. A ‘good’ breeder is constantly checking on the pups, to remove faeces, and can facilitate your toilet training by providing a toilet area from 3 weeks onwards.
- ‘Good’ breeders often start training protocols with puppies before they have left them. This involves 1-2-1 time spent with each puppy, daily. It may be training them to stack, if they have been bred with conformation in mind. It may be simply conditioning a recall response at feeding time. With our own litters, we follow Puppy Culture - which involves some very specific training protocols for raising young performance puppies. You can check out the videos on our website here. · Your puppy will be ‘known’ as an individual from birth. A ‘good’ breeder knows pups as individuals and tracks their development and progress through physical and psychological milestones. This comes with the puppy being cared about, as an individual, rather than just being a commodity to the breeder. A ‘good’ breeder will participate in matching puppy and owner up - whether this is by advising you on which puppies to choose from, for your needs - or whether this is by assigning you a specific puppy. The breeder can only do this, because they know each puppy.
- You will receive support, information, advice and help throughout your dog’s life. If your dog should develop any physical or behavioural problems, a ‘good’ breeder will be at hand with helpful suggestions and contacts. As a trainer, many is the time I’ve received frantic emails from new puppy owners with puppies screaming through the night, or ongoing toilet training problems, or owners with fingers torn to shreds by sharp puppy teeth. I’m happy to give advice, but I always wonder: Where is your breeder? Your contact with your breeder should not end when you collect your puppy - it’s not simply a financial transaction. Collecting your puppy should be the beginning of an ongoing relationship with your breeder - no matter how infrequently you’re in contact with them, you should feel they are there if you need them. And it goes without saying that their advice (if they are a ‘good’ breeder!) should not involve punishment or methods which cause fear. If they are not very competent trainers, or you need help in person, they should know the training organisations to refer you to.
- If the unexpected should happen, and you’re unable to keep your dog (at any age), a ‘good’ breeder will take your dog back and either keep him/her or take on the responsibility of rehoming him/her in a suitable home. This ensures that the dogs produced by a ‘good’ breeder will never enter the rescue system or become a burden on rescue resources. It also means you don’t need to worry about this ever being a possibility, should you become ill - or lose your home or job or family. Dogs do end up in rescue all the time, due to these causes. Again, when it happens, I always wonder: Where is your breeder?
- A ‘good’ breeder will want to stay in touch with new puppy owners and will be interested in the puppies’ development. This is, after all, the culmination of all their hard work.
Frankly - all of the above is priceless, and it’s usually available for no more than the price of a poorly bred puppy, from a ‘bad’ breeder. So it’s a no-brainer to look for a ‘good’ breeder!
Do your ‘breed research’ before looking for a breeder!
It is very tempting to start casually browsing cute puppy ads. Don’t do this! Control yourself and learn more about the breeds that interest you, first. Try to keep an open mind until you’ve done this. I would really URGE anyone looking for a puppy, to read Pippa Mattinson’s excellent book Choosing the Perfect Puppy. This book covers EVERYTHING you need to be thinking about, whatever breed you are looking for.
Please keep in mind that breeders and breed clubs - whilst essential people to talk to - should not be your only source of information. And maybe should not be your first source of information, either. Sometimes people ‘in’ the breeds can be quite defensive about health issues - they can deny they exist, reason them away or make other excuses for them. Even some breed clubs can take this stance. It’s important to try to get a perspective which is outside the breed itself. (Which is one reason why I like Pippa’s book so much!).
Another essential source, is the Pedigree Dogs Exposed blog. This is the blog which exists off the back of the ground-breaking documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, made by Jemima Harrison. You can watch this documentary in full here. A follow-up and sequel to it was made three years later, to see if things had improved. You can watch the follow-up here. If you watch these documentaries, you will see why many of us feel so strongly about these issues and why it is hard to imagine a ‘good’ breeder of certain breeds.
Ok, I know I want a ‘good’ breeder - how do I find one??
'Good' breeders (wherever they are) have people on their waiting lists from before a mating has even taken place. More people join the waiting list throughout the pregnancy. By the time the pups hit the ground, it’s just about sorting which homes make the final cut. Unless a home has pulled out, you are unlikely to find a pup already born and available from a good breeder - so don’t look for puppies - look for pregnant dogs or planned matings and be prepared to join a list before a mating, or during a pregnancy.
A LOCAL PUPPY? Understandably, most people would prefer to find a ‘good’ breeder in Jersey. The cost of bringing a puppy over - whether by boat or by private plane - is something most people would choose to avoid if possible. There are ‘good’ breeders in Jersey. I’d like to think we are, and I know of several others. But there are obviously fewer people (full stop) in Jersey, than in the UK - which means there are fewer of everything. Including ‘good’ breeders. Locally, you are unlikely to find 1) a ‘good’ breeder 2) of a specific breed 3) with puppies available. It’s not impossible, but it’s very unlikely. If you really want a puppy from a ‘good’ and local breeder, you will probably have to join a waiting list and to wait quite some time for a litter. (Good breeders are not churning puppies out, remember!) You may also need to be flexible about your desired breed, to some degree. Waiting for a local litter of some minor breeds could involve waiting ten years, or more, otherwise(!).
The best place to start a search locally, is by contacting the Kennel Club of Jersey - specifically Dr Margaret Bayes, the registrar - to ask about any upcoming litters. Members will often let Dr Bayes know if they are planning a litter. However, remember that a litter being registered by the KCJ - or the UK KC - does not mean they will necessarily be health-tested and does not mean the breeder is necessarily a ‘good’ breeder. You still need to do your research.
Litters in Jersey, you will need to contact the breeder and ask to be emailed copies of any health tests which have been carried out on the sire and dam. The Kennel Club of Jersey has no public database with health tests on it, unlike the UK Kennel Club which has the excellent Mate Select database. Since sadly most breeders (everywhere) are not even health-testing, prepare yourself to hear excuses for not completing health tests - and prepare yourself to walk away when you do. (It is harder to walk away after initial contact like this - which is why I much prefer being able to check health tests on the UK’s Mate Select database prior to ever contacting a breeder.) ***A word about supply and demand: Often, in Jersey, we see litters which breeders would be giving away, in the UK, being sold for hundreds per puppy in Jersey. Accidental matings, un-health-tested dogs, dogs with poor temperaments... all sold at hugely inflated prices, just because some people just want a local pup (any pup!) now. Sadly this only encourages people to breed in the ‘wrong’ way, and for profit - people are buying these pups which can’t be given away, in the UK. Don’t be one of these people. Don’t let a ‘bad’ breeder sell you a poorly bred pup for an inflated price, just because you want one locally now. There are some great rescue organisations on the island, with young pups available for rescue...
A PUPPY FROM EUROPE?
With Jersey being so close to mainland Europe, some people think that importing a pup from Europe would make more sense than getting a pup from the UK.
Bear in mind, if you do this, that you will not be able to bring the pup to Jersey until s/he is 15wks old (at least). This is because you will need to do so under the Pet Passport scheme, whereby a puppy has a rabies jab no earlier than 12wks and then must wait 21 days to be able to enter the country.
This means that your breeder in Europe will have the puppy throughout the most important weeks of his/her life - during the socialisation period, which closes between 12-14wks. You will need to trust that the breeder can fully and adequately socialise the puppy and should keep this in mind when choosing a breeder. Your breeder will also need to be willing to keep the pup an extra 7 weeks and to carry out this additional work. (You may need to pay for this.)
Finally, with language barriers and with foreign health-test requirements, and foreign show or working qualifications to get your head around, often importing from Europe is complicated for first-time owners of a breed. (Once you have contacts in a breed, and are familiar with the breed, it is easier.)
Some breeds that are legal in many European countries, are illegal to import into Jersey. Do make sure you have researched this side of things, so you are not devastated on going through Jersey Customs...
A PUPPY FROM THE UK?
A couple of good websites to check out are:
- KC Assured Breeders - note that local (Jersey) breeders cannot join the KC Assured Breeders’ scheme, since it is a scheme run by the UK KC and they won’t let Jersey breeders join. This doesn’t mean that no Jersey breeders are ‘good’ breeders!
- Puppy Culture breeders - there are not many in the UK, but if there is one in your breed, it’s worth waiting for a pup - this is an outstanding puppy rearing programme and if you watch some of the videos on the Puppy Culture website, you’ll get an idea of what a good breeder can offer
- The breed club for your breed (google your breed + ‘club’ or ‘society’ to find this).
Please know that these are just starting points. Not all (or even most!) of the breeders listed on these sites will be ‘good’ breeders. I even know of some KC Assured Breeders who are glorified puppy farmers - health-testing, but producing far too many litters a year to be anything else. The KC Assured Breeder scheme is slightly ‘tick-box’ and many large-scale breeders have just gotten good at ticking those boxes. Be wise... Under no circumstances would I recommend looking in Classified sections of papers, nor online, nor looking on Gumtree, nor looking on Pets4Homes - you are extremely unlikely to find a ‘good’ breeder advertising in these places.If you are looking for a gundog breed, please get in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org) - as I may be able to give you more specific suggestions. I am always happy to cast an eye over any shortlist of breeders or litters you’ve come up with and let you know my thoughts.