Communicating with prospective puppy owners


People will often seek a veterinarian’s advice when looking for a new puppy or dog, but may not be aware that dogs with exaggerated features are at risk of poor health and welfare throughout their lives.

Here’s a checklist of the key points for veterinarians to communicate with prospective puppy owners to help them find the right pet.

  1. A good place to start is the RSPCA Smart Puppy and Dog Buyer’s Guide. This guide is supported by the AVA and provides detailed information on looking for a new pet dog including how to avoid puppy farmers and other irresponsible breeders.
  2. They might like to consider adoption first – there are many wonderful dogs and puppies out there looking for new homes through reputable animal welfare organisations and adoption groups.
  3. If they can’t find the right dog or puppy to adopt, then they’ll need to find a responsible breeder.
  4. If they’re interested in a particular dog breed, it’s important that they understand the health and welfare problems characteristic for that breed and the likely costs associated with veterinary care over the dog’s lifetime. It’s also important to discuss the ongoing special care owners will be required to provide at home, as well as the time, commitment and resources involved.

If the prospective puppy owner remains keen to buy one of these breeds that have serious health and welfare problems, suggest they:

  • Find out if the breeder is registered, and whether they participate in screening programs which seek to eliminate these disorders
  • Visit the breeding facility to meet the breeder, puppy and its parents - don't buy online
  • Visit the breeding facility to meet the breeder, puppy and its parents
  • Look for a puppy with less exaggerated features
  • Check that the parent dogs have less exaggerated features
  • Ask for information about the health history of the parent dogs
  • Get a veterinary check as soon as the puppy is purchased
  • Consider a crossbreed of that particular breed instead. Crossbreeding is likely to result in physical features that are more moderate, and thus fewer associated problems. Ensure that this crossbred is obtained from a reputable breeder.