Choosing your Puppy


The ownership of a dog, any dog, should be a life-long commitment and therefore it is very important to appreciate the responsibilities you are taking on. When choosing the breed of dog you would like take into account the costs involved, the amount of training, your home environment, the amount of exercise you can give the dog, the size of the dog, the type of coat, the sex of the dog as well as how the dog looks. All three of these gundog breeds have different endearing features and you should try to find a breed which will best suit your current requirements.

 Having established that you would like one of these breeds – how do you go about finding one. The best place to purchase a puppy from is a reputable breeder. Often the Kennel Club can give you names of breeders in your area and how long they have been breeding etc. Going to dog shows gives you time to look at the dogs being shown and talk to breeders at the ringside who will be only too happy to advise you about the breed. Do your research well – by all means look items up on the Internet and ask questions. You should have as many questions to ask as the breeder has to ask you. Do not be offended when a breeder asks you lots of questions about your home, your family set up, your work pattern, whether you have owned dogs before etc. because a good reputable breeder will be very particular where their puppies go and want to make sure that your circumstances fit with the breed of dog. For example when people tell me that they live in a second floor flat with a park which is a long distance away then they are not suitable candidates for any of these three gundog breeds.

Make an appointment with the breeder and ask to see Mum and Dad if available. On your first visit I would not take the children as they often distract you from thinking clearly about the litter of puppies. See the litter with their Mum and see how the puppies are reacting. Do not do what I did when picking my first Irish Red Setter and go for the weak, timid little puppy in the corner who is shaking all over because you think he is cute…

Puppies should be active, bright eyed, have a shiny coat, be boisterous and above all look healthy. They should not have runny eyes, look undernourished, be constantly scratching their coat or moving around on their bum on the floor (a potential sign of worms). They should also not be timid, aggressive or excessively bark.

Make sure that the breeder you choose is one that you respect but also that you get on with. The breeder will be your source of advice and guidance throughout the puppies life. I still receive annual Christmas cards from people who bought a puppy from me in the 1970’s who I now consider to be friends and not clients.

Make sure that you agree a price and know what is included – Is the cost including the registration of the puppy with the Kennel Club? Is the puppy to have injections before you pick them up? Is there a puppy insurance included in the price? A reputable breeder will let you come and see the puppies from about 5 to 6 weeks of age with them leaving their mother at about 8 to 10 weeks old.

For more detailed descriptions concerning each of these three breeds then look at the FAQ’s of each breed – the Irish Red Setter; the Irish Red and White Setter and the Welsh Springer Spaniel.