It is sensible to make sure you have everything ready for your puppy before you bring him home. If at all possible have someone around most of the time for the first few days to help settle him in and be there for when he is awake. You should have sufficient food for the next few days and hopefully your breeder will have given you enough food to keep you going. Also, have his bedding, crate, if you are using one, bowls and toys. Remember to have plenty of newspapers for toilet training.
It is much easier if you are not alone in the car when bringing him home. Many pups travel very well in a car but you need to be prepared in case he is sick, so make sure you take plenty of old towels, newspapers or kitchen roll with you. Hopefully he will not have been fed for some time before you travel. It is best if there is someone to cuddle him on the way back or to have a suitable size carrying cage or cardboard box for him to be in. Either way it is important that he is not loose in the car.
The Kennel Club has an excellent section giving advice on buying a dog.
Follow the link to access the Kennel Club website:
There are many important things to consider when purchasing a pedigree puppy
or pedigree dog. Each of the following sections leads on to other sections.
Are you ready to own a dog? 10% of people told us that they bought their puppy on an impulse! It’s essential to consider how this new member of your family will impact on your life.
Learn more about buying a dog. More information about buying a dog, including what to ask your breeder, what equipment you’ll need to purchase and the importance of pet insurance.
Caring for your new puppy. There’s a lot to consider before you bring your puppy home, including feeding, walking, training, vaccination, socialisation and child safety.
Find a Puppy. Ready to buy a dog? Why not use our Find a Puppy service to discover the ideal four-legged friend for you.
Find a Rescue. If you’re prepared to invest the time and effort, rehoming a rescue dog can be immensely rewarding.
Change of ownership. Learn more about how to change The Kennel Club’s registered ownership of your new dog.
Dog look up. Use our Dog Look Up tool to view a dog’s pedigree or health test results.
Lucy’s Law spells the beginning of the end for puppy farming
Third-party puppy sales banned in England from Monday 6 April
Published 6 April 2020
Today (Monday 6 April) the Government has introduced landmark new legislation to tackle the low-welfare, high volume supply of puppies and kittens, by banning their commercial third-party sale in England.
‘Lucy’s Law’ means that anyone wanting to get a new puppy or kitten in England must now buy direct from a breeder, or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead. Licensed dog breeders are required to show puppies interacting with their mothers in their place of birth. If a business sells puppies or kittens without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months.
The law is named after Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was rescued from a puppy farm where she was subjected to terrible conditions. Puppy farms are located across the UK with most depending on third-party sellers or ‘dealers’ to distribute often sick, traumatised, unsocialised puppies which have been taken away from their mother at just a few weeks old.
This often involves long-distance transportation, with the puppy or kitten suffering life-threatening medical, surgical, or behavioural problems which are passed on to unsuspecting new owners. Lucy’s Law effectively removes the third-party dealer chain, resulting in all dog and cat breeders becoming accountable for the first time.
As well as Lucy’s Law, the Government has committed to supporting tougher sentences for animal cruelty, raising maximum prison sentences from six months to five years, and has pledged to bring in new laws on animal sentience and to end excessively long journeys for live animals.
Animal welfare minister Lord Goldsmith said:
Today is a significant milestone for animal welfare, and a major step towards ending cruel puppy farming and smuggling. After all the hard work of Marc Abraham and the Lucy’s Law campaign, I’m so pleased that we finally have this crucial legislation which will help tackle the heart-breaking third-party trade of dogs and cats.
But we also need the public to do their bit to help by always asking to see puppies and kittens interacting with their mothers in their place of birth, looking out for the warning signs, and reporting any suspicious activity. By raising awareness of illegal sellers to the local authorities, we can all help to protect the nation’s cats and dogs and give them the best start in life.
Marc Abraham, media vet, author, founder of Pup Aid and the Lucy’s Law campaign, said:
I’m incredibly proud to have led the 10-year campaign to ban cruel puppy and kitten dealers and to get this essential Lucy’s Law legislation over the line. I’d like to give a huge thanks to UK Government for passing this law, as well as every animal-loving parliamentarian, celebrity, welfare organisation, and member of the public that supported us.
Lucy was an incredibly brave dog, and it’s right that her memory is honoured with such an important piece of legislation to help end puppy farm cruelty; protecting breeding dogs just like her, as well as cats, their young, and also unsuspecting animal-lovers from the dangers of irresponsible breeding and cruel puppy and kitten dealers.
Lucy’s Law is the result of a 10-year grassroots campaign supported by prominent figures including Ricky Gervais, Brian May, Rachel Riley, and Peter Egan, and it will help disrupt the supply chain of unscrupulous breeders and dealers who breed dogs in shocking conditions, often kept imprisoned alone in the dark, with very little human or canine company.
Last month, the Government launched the ‘Petfished’ campaign to highlight these conditions and the deceitful tactics pet sellers use to trick buyers into thinking they are responsible breeders selling healthy animals. The campaign urges the public to look out for warning signs which suggest the seller could be an illegal third-party dealer such as litters without a mum present or being rushed through a sale.
For more advice on how to buy a pet safely visit getyourpetsafely.campaign.gov.uk.
Anyone looking to buy a puppy or kitten should look for these warning signs
- Have a look at the seller’s profile and search their name online. If they are advertising many litters from different breeds, then this is a red flag.
- Check contact details. Copy and paste the phone number into a search engine. If the number is being used on lots of different adverts, sites and dates then this is likely a deceitful seller.
- Check the animal’s age. Puppies and kittens should never be sold under 8 weeks old – do not buy from anyone advertising a puppy or kitten younger than 8 weeks.
- Check the animal’s health records. Make sure the seller shares all records of vaccinations, flea and worm treatment and microchipping with you before sale.
- Make sure the mum is present – if mum is not available to meet, it’s unlikely the puppy or kitten was bred there. Beware of the seller making excuses as to why mum is not there e.g. she’s at the vet’s, asleep, or out for a walk.
- Check there isn’t a ‘fake’ mum – most fake mums don’t interact with the puppies as they fear the real mum returning.
- Watch out for puppies or kittens labelled as ‘rescue’ but with much higher than expected price tags.
- If you feel rushed or pressurised into parting with cash, this is a red flag.
- Health problems observed at purchase are not normal and don’t be convinced otherwise.
- Beware of offers to meet somewhere convenient e.g. car park or motorway services, or ‘shop front’ premises, common with rented properties just to make sales, and ‘sales rooms’ kept separate from nearby or onsite puppy farm.
RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said:
Over the last decade RSPCA staff have dealt with almost 30,000 complaints relating to the illegal puppy trade. Our rescuers have saved dogs from unimaginable cruelty and hideous conditions; our vets have tried desperately to save the lives of tiny puppies riddled with worms and plagued by health and behaviour problems; and our carers have nursed dogs back to health, teaching them to trust people again, and showing them love for the first time.
We’re incredibly pleased that the Government is today introducing a ban on third-party sales of puppies and kittens. We believe that this, along with tougher licensing regulations that were introduced in 2018 and better education of the public on how to buy puppies responsibly, will help to crackdown on this cruel trade. We hope these laws will be properly enforced so that all dogs who are used for breeding and selling will live happy, healthy lives where their welfare is prioritised above profits.
Holly Conway, Head of Public Affairs at the Kennel Club said:
We are delighted that Lucy’s Law has been introduced today. Sadly, too often irresponsible breeders in the UK and abroad have depended on commercial third-party sellers – like ‘dealers’ or pet shops – to disguise the horrific conditions puppies are bred and brought up in to the public, readily making a huge profit while causing untold suffering.
We hope Lucy’s Law will help bring an end to this cruel trade and that, as well as improving welfare conditions for puppies, it will also encourage anyone thinking of getting a puppy to really do their research, find a responsible breeder and bring home a happy, healthy new addition to the family.
TV personality, model and animal rights campaigner Lucy Watson said:
Sadly, I was totally unaware of the cruelty involved in the legal third-party puppy trade when I unwittingly bought my first dog Digby, a German Spitz, from a licensed pet shop. As a result of his irresponsible breeding, I have witnessed first-hand his life-long behavioural problems, most likely caused by lack of adequate socialisation as a result of early separation from his mum and littermates.
As well as Digby, I have since adopted crossbreed Marley from an organisation dedicated to rescuing puppies and breeding dogs from puppy farms and would always urge others to do the same. I’ve been a proud supporter of the Lucy’s Law campaign since the very beginning and was even lucky enough to have met the actual rescue cavalier Lucy too!
- Lucy’s Law is the short-hand for the amendment to The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 brought about by The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019, which makes unlawful the sales of puppies and kittens (under six months in both cases) by third party sellers/anyone other than the breeder. Lucy’s Law currently comes into force on 6 April in England only as it is devolved legislation.
- Lucy’s Law is the result of a 10-year grassroots and multi award-winning campaign to ban third party puppy and kitten dealers, by a coalition of campaigning groups including Pup Aid, C.A.R.I.A.D., Canine Action UK, Hidden Insight, and The Karlton Index. Other animal welfare organisations supporting Lucy’s Law include RSPCA, The Kennel Club, Mayhew, All Dogs Matter, Raystede, Jerry Green Rescue, Friends of Animals Wales, All Party Dog Advisory Welfare Group (APDAWG), All Party Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW), Canine and Feline Sector Group, Institute of Licensing (IOL); celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Jane Fallon, Rachel Riley, Brian May, Peter Egan, Eamonn Holmes, Kay Burley, Carrie Symonds, Gail Porter, Lucy Watson, Liam Gallagher, Meg Mathews, Deborah Meaden, Sue Perkins, Sarah Harding; cross-party parliamentarians notably Michael Gove MP, Lord Goldsmith, Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Sir Roger Gale MP, Neil Parish MP, Alex Chalk MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Kerry McCarthy MP, Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP.
- If you’re rescuing a cat or dog, you can start by checking if the rescue organisation is a member of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH), although many reputable rescues aren’t members of ADCH.
- If you’re buying a puppy please use The Puppy Contract; and if you’re buying a kitten please use The Kitten Checklist.
When you collect your puppy, many breeders give you a puppy pack to take home with you. This should include:
- All puppies must be microchipped before they are 8 weeks old and it is illegal to sell a puppy which is not microchipped and part of a registered database. As the breeder must always be the first recorded keeper of the puppies they must supply you with the appropriate papers so you, as the new keeper, can update the details which is your responsibility.
- Kennel Club Registration Papers
- KC Accredited Breeders will also give you a contract
- Insurance: These days many breeders insure their puppies for the first few weeks after they leave them. It is then up to you as to whether or not you continue with the insurance after that
- Food for the next few days as it is not a good idea to suddenly change your puppy’s diet, especially when he is changing homes. However, if you do want to change it, leave it for a couple of weeks or until he has settled in and then change it gradually over a few days to a week or so.
- Diet Sheet to include changes as your puppy grows older
- History of worming and de-fleaing and the preparations used with a reminder as to when the next treatment is due
- If your puppy has had any vaccinations then you need the paperwork to pass on to your vet
- Hints on grooming and generally looking after your new puppy
Arrange with your breeder that you will take your puppy to your vet within 12 – 24 hours of getting him home and if your vet has serious concerns about any pre existing conditions you can take him back and get your money back. This is not an excuse for you to take the puppy back because you have changed your mind but, if you are unfortunate enough to have bought a puppy with a health problem, then any reputable breeder should be willing to agree to take the pup back, providing you have veterinary back up. Reputable breeders care and do their best to breed healthy dogs and want their stock to go to caring homes, so they should be willing to agree to you taking your puppy to the vet.
Maybe you have decided that a puppy is not for you so what about an older dog? There are rescue schemes which re-home setters as there are many reasons why setters need re-homing. There are some people who, over the years, have given more than one settter a second chance in life. You must be prepared to have your home checked to make sure it and the garden are suitable. One very important consideration is that you have the time to give to a rescue dog. You will also have to be prepared to answer many questions about you and your family to ensure you are one of those very special people who can give a rescue dog that very special home.
Please take some time to look at the following sites. You may be able to re home a setter or help in other ways.
The Irish Setter Club of Scotland also runs a scheme for the breed which is run by Mrs Sandra Sturrock Tel: 01674 840820
When looking for a puppy please do your research first. Conscientious breeders care and do their best to breed healthy dogs. Ask lots of questions and be prepared to answer lots of questions because a responsible breeder will want to make sure the puppies are going to a good home, just as much as you want to make sure you’re buying a healthy puppy.
Five things to do before buying your puppy:
1. Find out as much as you can about the breed.
2. Talk to as many owners as you can about the breed.
3. Go to events such as Discover Dogs, Country Fairs, dog shows, field trials and other events where you can see as many Irish Setters as possible and talk to their owners.
4. Ask questions.
5. Read books and look at other sites on the internet.
Then you can make an informed choice. Don’t buy out of ignorance but be aware of the potential pitfalls of buying a poorly bred puppy.
Five things not do:
1. Do not be impulsive.
2. Do not buy a puppy because you are sorry for it.
3. Do not buy a puppy unless you’re sure it is the right breed for you.
4. Do not buy a puppy unless you are sure you can look after it properly for the rest of its life.
5. Do not give a puppy as a present unless making sure first it will be wanted and cared for properly.
When buying a puppy it is highly unlikely that you will ever hear any of these but, unfortunately, there are puppy farmers around. Reputable breeders will not give any of these excuses.
- I’m sorry the place looks such a mess but I didn’t have time to tidy up.
There is a big difference between a clean, tidy, well looked after place with superficial “mess” and a dirty, smelly place where no effort has been taken to keep it clean.
If no effort has been taken then how can you be sure that sufficient effort has been taken to rear the puppies properly.
- I haven’t got the papers/pedigrees to hand.
Why not? They know they have puppies and that you are visiting so they should be prepared. They might not have the registration papers if you are visiting before the puppies are 8 weeks old but you should not leave without them if you are taking your puppy, unless you know your breeder.
- Mum is a bit young. It is her first season and I didn’t want to wait any longer.
Many bitches come into season before they are 12 months old. If this is her first season, or maybe even her second, the chances are she is not physically or mentally mature so why not wait until she is mature? There are no acceptable reasons that a caring breeder will have for mating a bitch under 2 years old. All breed clubs recommend that a bitch is not bred from until she is at least 2 years old.
- Don’t worry that they will not be registered with the Kennel Club. They’re still Irish Setters so I will charge you the full amount.
What guarantee do you have that they will grow into Irish Setters? Also, how can you be certain they are clear from PRA rcd1 and CLAD or that they are not PRA rcd4 affected?
- Health Problems? What health problems? Don’t worry about health problems. Trust me I’m the breeder and I know what I am doing.
If the breeder is not prepared to talk about health problems then how do you know that they are not trying to hide a known problem?
- I don’t have to worry about health problems. Look at all the names written in red in his pedigree.
There may be many names written in red (indicating Champions or Show Champions) but that doesn’t mean they don’t have problems or can’t pass problems on to their offspring in exactly the same way as other dogs in the pedigree.
- Dogs tested clear from PRA rcd1 and/or CLAD can still be carriers and produce affected puppies, so why should I waste my money?
If a dog is either hereditarily clear or tested clear it cannot be a carrier or produce affected puppies. Also unless both parents are clear then the puppies cannot be registered with KC. In exceptional cases a breeder can apply to the KC to register a litter if both parents are not clear from CLAD. A new test for PRA rcd4 became available in 2011 and all breeding stock should have been tested. We recommend you only buy a puppy that is rcd4 clear or a carrier as they cannot go blind because of rcd4. A puppy that is genetically rcd4 affected may go blind as early as 6 years or may never go blind because of rcd4.
- My Irish Setter moves very well so I don’t need to test for Hip Dysplasia.
It is not always possible to detect HD by watching a dog move. Some dogs with HD can move reasonably well but an X ray is needed for definite scoring.
- I refuse to have my Irish Setter anaesthetised to have her hips scored because I am worried about her.
These days anaesthetics are much safer than in the past and whilst there is a slight risk for any dog under anaesthetic we have not heard of any Irish Setter (or other breed for that matter) that has died under anaesthetic whilst having hips scored.
- Sorry you can’t see Mum but she is busy looking after her puppies.
It’s really important that you see Mum. You will see how well looked after she is, how she interacts with her puppies and how she reacts to the breeder. Also, if you don’t see her you can’t be certain that she is there and that the pups haven’t been brought in. Check out our article on Lucy’s Law which is legislation designed to stop the sale of puppies by third parties.
- Do you own the dam?
There has to be a very good reason why they don’t own the mother. If they don’t own her why is she with them? Check out our article on Lucy’s Law.
- How old is she?
She should be over 2 and under 8. Irish Setters are a slow maturing breed and if she is under 2 then it is unlikely that she will be either physically or mentally mature. If she is over 8, unless the breeder has made a special case, her puppies cannot be registered at the Kennel Club. All UK Irish Setter breed clubs recommend that a bitch is not bred from until she is 2 years old.
- How many litters has she had?
If more than one then you need to ask how many and when she had her last litter. Most Irish Setters have 6 or more puppies each litter and it takes a lot out of a bitch to rear them, so too many litters too close is not a good idea. The KC will not register more than 4 litters from any one bitch.
- Have you had any problems with this litter or any previous litter?
Sometimes whelping problems do happen but what is important is that the breeder does not have the same problem each time she has a litter or many problems with each litter.
- Are both parents Kennel Club registered?
Should be yes. If both parents are not registered then the puppies cannot be. KC registration will ensure that the puppies have the proper characteristics of the breed in both looks and temperament. If they are not registered you cannot be sure they are Irish Setters. Also you cannot be certain they are clear from PRA rcd1 or CLAD.
- Are these puppies both CLAD clear and PRA rcd1 clear. Have both parents, or the puppy, been tested for PRA rcd4?
In UK all KC registered puppies now have to be clear of both CLAD and PRA rcd1 as the DNA tests for these conditions have enabled these health conditions to be eradicated from our stock. As from 1st August 2011 there has been a DNA test available for PRA rcd4 and both parents, or the puppy, should have been tested. A puppy that is either a clear or a carrier will never develop rcd4, a condition that causes blindness. A puppy that is rcd4 affected has a chance of going blind later in life. We do not recommend you buy a puppy unless you know it is either clear or a carrier of pra rcd4. Hereditary status is clearly marked on KC registration papers for all three conditions.
Providing you have their pedigree names you can also check by going onto the KC website and accessing the health results: Health Test Results Finder | The Kennel Club
Details of CLAD, PRA rcd 1 and rcd4 can be found elsewhere on the site.
- What health problems are you aware of in dam and sire’s pedigrees?
If the answer is “I don’t know” or “It’s not important” then consider carefully whether you buy from this breeder. If the breeder cannot be bothered to find out it suggests they do not care and does “It’s not important” mean that they are trying to hide something? If either parent has had epilepsy or bloat then we recommend you do not buy a puppy. If a close family member eg. puppy from previous litter, grandparent, aunt, uncle has had bloat or epilepsy then consider very carefully whether to buy a puppy or not. The chances of your puppy being affected appear to be much higher if close family members have been affected. Most breeders will have researched potential health problems very carefully.
- Why did you choose that particular dog as sire?
The answer will give you a good idea about the breeder and how caring they are. A conscientious breeder will consider the pedigrees and many other factors, including health, before they decide to breed.
- Why did you have the litter?
Again, the answer will give you a very good idea about the breeder.
- Will the puppy be microchipped?
The answer must be yes as the law in England and Wales changed in April 2016. All puppies must be microchipped and added to a registered database before they are sold.
Is the breeder genuinely caring? How does the breeder interact with the puppies? The most important thing is that the puppies have the best start to life.
Are you happy with where the puppies are being kept? Is it clean and do they look well cared for? Does the place smell unpleasant? Is there enough light? Have the puppies enough room to move around easily? Are you allowed to see where they are actually kept or does the breeder insist on bringing them to you? If so, why? Do they have fresh water?
Are the puppies outgoing or cowering in a corner? If they are cowering it could be the sign of a nervous dog or one that has not been treated properly by the breeder or been socialised.
If they are asleep are they contented? They should be plump but not with distended tummies which might be a sign of worms.
Do the breeders have lots of different breeds and seem to be continually breeding?
What is your overall impression? If you feel comfortable then that is probably a good sign. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, make your excuses and leave. Don’t waste your time or, even worse, buy a puppy because you feel sorry for it.