Advice & Tips
advice buying a dog

Buying a Dog - Advice When Looking to Buy a Dog

Written by Steph McCulloch


Buying a dog can be one of the best experiences in life. After years of yearning, you - yes, you - get to take home your very own four-legged best friend!
A woman cuddling her dog


Buying a dog can be one of the best experiences in life. After years of yearning, you - yes, you - get to take home your very own four-legged best friend!
However, gone are the days of walking into a pet shop and taking home the first cutie that catches your eye. 

Buying a dog nowadays is an important decision that affects almost every aspect of your life! You probably have lots of questions and concerns about the perfect breed for you, from initial costs to basic training, food and care. 
Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider and understand where to begin on your life-changing journey.

We’ve put together this guide on how to buy a dog as well as additional top advice from a team of dedicated dog lovers.

Are you ready to get a dog?

a woman and her dog

Before buying a dog, it’s important to do your research. Whilst you may want to select a dog on how cute they look, every breed has a variety of characteristics making them different to the next.

For example, the Shiba Inu may look like a perfectly baked loaf of cuddly bread but they’re highly independent dogs and usually prefer alone time to lots of snuggles.

If you want an affectionate dog with whom you can watch TV, a lap dog such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or the Bichon Frise might just be the one for you.

Like humans, each dog is completely unique and shares an entirely different set of personality traits. 

Choosing the right breed to suit you and your lifestyle is one of the biggest aspects of buying a dog. This includes size, temperament, and possible health conditions.
Health conditions are a big factor and not only for breed specific issues, but also from the breeding pool. This is why it's best to avoid unscrupulous breeders like getting scammed by an illegal breeder. 
If looking for a pedigree puppy, for example, it's best to find a 
kennel club-assured breeder

Also, If you’re not a very active person, choosing a breed such as a Siberian Husky probably isn’t the best idea as they require over two hours of exercise every day. 

If you’ve got dreams of running off into the sunset with your new pup, check the general recall level of your chosen breed. Dogs with high prey drives such as Akitas, Beagles, and Greyhounds can be a little difficult to get back if they’re not trained in the very early days. Proper control is key with these types of dog breeds. 

Even with lots of training, hunting dogs are extremely difficult to catch if they bolt off. For this reason, some dog owners don’t let their dogs off-leash and instead hire specialist pens where there is no chance of The Great Escape. Phew.

Buying a dog is a huge responsibility so you need to know how to care for your new pup too. This includes ensuring your home is clean, creating a safe environment for them to play and rest, and being knowledgeable about their breed.

Organising your pup's vaccinations is also super important and helps to protect them from nasty bugs and illnesses, though this is something that the previous owner should arrange before you take your puppy home.

Toilet training is hugely important too and can help your perfect pup to develop a routine. It also strengthens your bond as you praise and reward your pooch for learning where to go potty

Punishing a puppy for peeing in the house is not cool and won’t help them learn where to go. Being gentle and positive with your pup will be more worthwhile in the long run and help them to become super smart.

We’ll try not to make this entirely about us, but once you buy a dog, it’s time to consider insurance. Pet insurance helps to protect your pet from any worst-case scenario and helps to protect you from scary vet bills.

Waggel offers a lifetime policy to all pet parents so taking out insurance couldn’t be easier. From puppies to seniors, we cover it all, allowing you and your pet to focus on the important stuff like sharing ice cream and walks along the beach.

Signing up your pup to a veterinarian surgery and receiving a health check is also essential and will allow you to make claims. 

Where to buy a dog

A woman in a field with her dog

Great, so you’ve decided to buy a dog! But the questions remain how do you buy a dog and where do you even go to get one?

When it comes to buying a dog there are many places you can go. However, you must ensure that you purchase your dog from a reputable owner, breeder, or rescue programme. 

In the UK, there are an estimated 664,000 dogs in animal shelters. Rescuing a dog helps to give them a second chance at a happy life and is such a rewarding experience! 

Rescue centres aren’t just made up of older dogs, many puppies are rescued from backstreet breeders and puppy farms. This means that you shouldn’t dismiss rescue centres from your list as they can still provide you with a tiny puppy to take home.

If you are wanting to purchase a puppy from a breeder, your chosen breeder should always be Kennel Club Assured. Assured breeders are passionate about puppy welfare and the health of their dogs and only partake in good breeding practices. 

Essentially, this puts nasty puppy farmers out of business and means your pup has less chance of becoming poorly and visiting the vet. 

Pets4Homes currently acts as the most popular website for pet classifieds in the UK. This means they promote responsible breeders and responsible buyers, ultimately reducing animal cruelty and bad breeding. 

They recommend confirming that the advertiser is genuine, the puppies they are selling are over eight weeks old (ideally twelve) and that they are fully weaned. 

All potential pups should be viewed with their mum, and their dad if possible. Meeting your pup’s mum can help you to see their temperament and relationship with others. 

When purchasing a puppy from a breeder, the breeder should consent to a return within 48 hours if the puppy becomes unwell or is found to be suffering from a hereditary health problem.

Cost of dog ownership

A man and his dog looking out across some hills

Buying a dog can be a pretty costly gig at times. It’s not just their food and bedding you need to take into consideration but their insurance and other things such as pet sitting or dropping them off at a dog boarding kennel if you go on holiday. You may also want to consider if you’re going to neuter your dog. These ongoing costs can certainly add up. 

When it comes to selecting dog food, your pup will be spoilt for choice. Though we understand it can be a bit overwhelming when you need to decide if you should be feeding your dog kibble, wet food, raw, or homemade.

There are even a few vegan dog food options on the market so your pup really does have just as much choice as you!

At Waggel, we love Butternut Box.

butternut box image

Butternut Box offers perfectly portioned and freshly-prepared meals for dogs of all ages. Not to toot our own horn but if you sign up for Waggel Pet Insurance today you can secure 50% off your first two boxes - that’s just one of our many ways of saying thanks. 

If your pup has been eating a different kind of food before you take them home, transitioning them slowly into a new food is best. This means allowing them to eat their usual food for at least a week so they can settle with ease.

Giving your dog additional supplements such as salmon oil and joint care tablets can help to keep your pup in optimal health. 

Our friends over at Pooch & Mutt have a wide range of natural supplements, made full of love and free from junk that can be added directly to your pup’s food.

If your new pooch is a fan of the finer things in life, you might want to consider a memory foam bed. Memory foam dog beds not only look super comfy but are super comfy - we totally haven’t tried to sit in one, we promise.

Just like humans opt for memory foam mattresses, these orthopaedic dog beds provide all the comfort your dog needs by alleviating the pressure of achy muscles and joints.

Suitable for dogs of all ages, these easy-to-clean beds support any physical condition and can help stave off unwanted aches and pains.

Most people also crate-train their new dog. Crates can help with toilet training and give your dog some alone time if they feel particularly stressed out or tired.

Crate training is a great option for puppies as it allows them to settle into their new environment at their own pace - it also stops them from chewing through your favourite pair of shoes…oops.

Responsible dog owners

A dog looking off to the side

Being a responsible pet parent is more than just what you feed your pet or what kind of bed you give them. It’s about maintaining their security and health at all times, this includes when you walk them.

The most simple way of doing this is to ensure your pooch wears a well-fitted collar with a tag each time you venture outside. This tag must contain your full name, address, and phone number as well as your dog's name, of course. 

Using a safe, secure lead will prevent any accidents or attempted runaways and allow you to avoid stressful situations when out and about with your dog - especially if your dog suddenly decides they fancy squirrel for dinner.

Microchipping your pet is now a legal requirement in the UK and will help to reunite you both if your pet is stolen or lost. It does exactly what it says on the tin and is a tiny chip injected under the skin. 

If your dog isn’t microchipped, you could face a fine of up to £500 - something no one wants to see, we’re sure.

Whilst it may sound invasive, in reality, it’s just like receiving a vaccination. Unlike a collar or tag, it cannot be removed, giving your pup the best chance of being identified.

Once microchipped, you must upload your dog’s details to a relevant database such as Pet Database. This service is entirely free to use and stores information about your furry friend. It’s also the only completely free national compliant pet database in the UK!


image of a woman and her puppy

We understand better than anyone the excitement of buying a dog. However, it can also be overwhelming. To best prepare, we recommend writing out a checklist of items you’ll need such as food and bowls, a new bed, blankets, and toys.

Conducting the necessary research will help you to decide which breed is best for you and your lifestyle - after all your new pup is gonna be around for a while!

Before committing to anything, do your research and know exactly who you’re buying your new pup from and their history in rescuing or breeding. 

Donning your detective hat and magnifying glass is completely optional but it might help you to conduct thorough research.

You’re going to become the responsible adult for this little fluffball so it’s important to understand how to keep them safe at all times.

On walks, use a collar and lead with a tag. Don’t walk your dog in unsafe areas - that’s just silly. And don’t forget to microchip your pet, storing their details through the Pet Database system will help you both reunite if your dog goes missing.

Arguably the most important step - don’t forget to sign up to a local veterinary surgery and purchase pet insurance, something that will make both you and your pup’s lives a whole lot easier!

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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