Can I please have some advice on a puppy?

(26 Posts)
dillite Tue 05-Aug-14 14:15:39

I am planning on getting a puppy- not a haste decision, I have been dreaming of one for more than a decade, and am finally in a position to get one. I have a couple of breeds in mind- a westie, a pomeranian, a yorkie or a kings charles spaniel. I have been doing some research and these breeds seem to be the most suitable, although a pom, as I understand, can get a bit territorial? Those that have these breeds, how are you finding them? I have a young child, so would need a child-friendly breed.

Also, where would be the best place to get a puppy from? I am keen on avoiding a puppy mill. I was also wondering whether a breeder would object to a puppy being checked over by a vet before purchase, just to make sure that it's healthy- I've read too many horror stories of young puppies being sold as healthy, turning out to be ill and dying soon after/ needing thousands of pounds worth of surgery.

I'm sure there are more questions, but they have gone out of my mind, so I will add them as soon as I remember. I would really appreciate any advice that you can offer.

Hoppinggreen Tue 05-Aug-14 15:25:45

Good luck, you will get lots of posters in a minute telling you to get a rescue dog, or a whippet. Or a rescue whippet.
These are the only types of dog you are allowed on Mumsnet.

Whittle your list down to 2 breeds, and then start researching breeders.

Begin with the breed society - should be easily googleable and ring them. Talk to the secretary or chairman about what you want and ask for their advice. Also check out litters advertised with the kennel club and see if the two bits of information tie up.

Also, while you're on the KC website, read their advice on getting a puppy of the two breeds you've decided on and also the recommended health tests. When you've found a breeder who might be good, double check all they tell you regarding the dam and sire with the KC website.

Be prepared to wait for the right pup - I have people on a waiting list for a puppy which won't be bred for three years, and even that depends on health test results - and to travel too. The best breeders are unlikely to be on your doorstep.

soddinghormones Tue 05-Aug-14 15:58:15

Generally the very small dogs can be quite territorial so of those four breeds I'd be inclined towards the westie or spaniel especially as you have a young child

for both, daisydotandgertie's advice about finding a breeder is spot on

we had to wait 9 months+ for our puppy and apparently that was remarkably quick for our pup's breed

It's really important that especially for king charles spaniels you make sure that all the health tests have been done as they are prone to some heart-breaking health problems

Not all decent breeders will do a health check before pups go home - simply because few vets will do house calls and the risk of a puppy picking up a bug from the vets itself is very high. In addition, many problems don't show themselves at that young age which would make it rather pointless as well as being high risk.

A good breeder will always have a clause in the contract about returning a puppy to them should a problem arise. A full refund should be offered in exchange for the puppy's return. Remember it is impossible to guarantee good health in any puppies, no matter how good the breeder BUT what defines good from bad is that every effort has been made to get them as good as is physically possible through a combination of careful mate selection, fastidious care and socialisation, along with a thorough knowledge of the breed.

Ask the breeders you speak to why they have bred. The answer should be to refine the line in someone way. Ask them what they have tried to improve - the first response should be temperament. Breeding purely for looks isn't the way to produce a good family pet.

Lally112 Tue 05-Aug-14 16:06:07

Go with the westie if you have a little one, spaniels are hard work - mine need 6 hours work a day. A good breeder wont object to a vetcheck providing you are paying for it but like its been said its not a 100% foolproof guarantee of future health. Most breeders with have had the usual hips scored, eyes checked etc before breeding so will have a good idea of the pups health. And goodluck with your furrball when it arrives.

Frances1212 Tue 05-Aug-14 16:53:38

I definitely wouldn't recommend a westie if you have young children. Their temperament is suited to older children. Yes there will always be someone who has had a great experience with their westie but like most terriers they are a bit temperamental and prone to be a little bit nippy - especially when playing with smaller kids. My parents have one - lovely dog but a bit overzealous with young children. Cockers and Cavaliers are lovely dogs but you need to find the right breeder.

CastilianHhhhidalgo Tue 05-Aug-14 18:11:42

A vet check likely wouldn't find any indication of potential genetic issues at that sort of age. All a vet check would do is reassure you that the puppy is healthy then and there, it would give you no guarantees for the future.

It's impossible to completely avoid potential health problems (other than those for which tests exist which can guarantee the parent dogs as being clear from them) as even some heritable ones can't yet be tested for reliably. What you can do is stack the odds as much as possible in your favour by finding a decent breeder who not only does all appropriate health tests for that breed (and uses a fully health tested stud) but also knows a great deal about the health and temperaments of the lines they use in their breeding. They should have a clear idea of what they are hoping to produce from the mating and what weaknesses in each dog they're hoping to improve upon.

Look for a breeder rather than a puppy, be prepared to wait for a litter and be prepared to travel to a decent breeder. As daisydotandgertie says the breed clubs of your chosen breeds are a good place to start, they should be able to point you in the right direction. In the meantime consider spectating at dog shows, get to know the breed(s) and chat to owners/breeders there. Many people heavily involved in a particular breed are often more than happy to natter away about them given the chance grin

WienerDiva Tue 05-Aug-14 18:39:24

I'd be inclined to suggest Cavvy. They aren't like Cocker or Springer spaniels. Although they can be prone to health conditions (but most specific breeds are).

I'd suggest having a good long chat with a vet nurse. A good vet practice will offer you a free appointment with a nurse or to pop in and have a chat with what to look out for with breeders, signs that the pups are ok etc.

cafesociety Tue 05-Aug-14 19:02:43

I'd recommend a cavalier king Charles spaniel, gentle, happy quiet dogs which love children, and don't need hours of exercise.
Personally I'd go to the kennel club website and get a list of puppies in the area of the UK you are in and travel to view and talk in depth to the breeders.
I wouldn't go for a west highland white terrier.

Lilcamper Tue 05-Aug-14 19:58:18

No dogs are inherently good with children, they need to be taught appropriate behaviour around each other.

Kitsmummy Tue 05-Aug-14 20:06:40

My sister is a dog groomer and she hates westies! I'm sure there are some nice ones but the majority she sees are snappy little things. She loves pretty much any dog except westies

Kitsmummy Tue 05-Aug-14 20:07:21

Cavs are known for lovely temperaments; I'd be inclined to go for one of those

JustAShopGirl Tue 05-Aug-14 20:08:52

We have always had Westies and they are lovely - or we have ONLY had lovely ones, or we have trained ours to be lovely......

dillite Tue 05-Aug-14 20:29:43

Thank you everyone! Wonderful advice- I will be spending a few hours on the KC website now.

I am rather surprised by how many of you wouldn't recommend a westie! My previous childminder had two and they were lovely, which was one of the reasons I've been thinking of one.

I know that a vet wouldn't be able to tell anything that might happen in the future, I was more thinking of finding out what's happening now- in terms of any cancer, or something like that- I may have been reading too many horror stories here.

LostInWales Tue 05-Aug-14 20:33:34

Had you thought of getting a whippet? They are really lovely, even better still a rescue dog? How about a rescue whippet grin wink <only mostly tongue in cheek?

dillite Tue 05-Aug-14 20:57:15

A whippet would be too big, I am after a small dog as it's a small house. I have looked into some local rescues, but all of them have said that they would be unable to consider me as I have a young child and no direct garden access from the house. They also mainly had large dogs.

mermaidstale Tue 05-Aug-14 21:01:58

It's more important that the parents have had vet checks, and the breeder should have certificates to say they are free of any inherited conditions. Many breeds are known to be affected by one or several of these.
As a generalisation, Westies tend to have bad skin, Cavaliers have bad hearts, little terriers are snappy. You may avoid heartbreak by insisting on fully tested parents but nobody can guarentee the pups will be clear.

Really, no 8 week old puppy is likely to have cancer. I cannot imagine that to be possible and cannot imagine where you might have read it!

And I don't think any breed can be dismissed - temperament is mostly down to breeding, and socialisation. A Westie can be hideous if badly bred, but well bred ones are charming. It is all down to the breeder tbh.

There are lots of welfare issues with Cavs. I'd strongly recommend that anyone thinking about which breed to choose has a look at the breed health website here. It lists the key genetic illnesses for each breed and identifies the tests that breeders should be doing. It also gives you a heads up of what to expect from your breed.

If you are going to get a puppy, have you thought through the practicalities of not having direct garden access? Puppy will need to be taken out very frequently, including in the middle of the night when little. Rescues would say no to this, not to be awkward, but because they recognise the practical difficulties it will cause, especially if you are going to be leaving a young child unattended in the house while you are elsewhere with pup.

tabulahrasa Tue 05-Aug-14 23:56:40

Um...whippets should only be about 4 inches taller than a westie though.

Anyway, apart from that, lol.

Websites and yorkies are proper full on terriers, high energy, high prey drive and tend to be fairly opinionated. They're not negative traits, but they're busy wee dogs who need more exercise than most people assume they do.

Cavs are lovely dogs, they really are all the nice points of spaniels without the hyperness...but they have terrible terrible health issues and it's not just a case of finding a good breeder with them, they really do have way more major issues than other breeds.

If you don't mind a bit of grooming bichon frises are nice dogs.

tabulahrasa Tue 05-Aug-14 23:57:32

Websites was obviously autocorrect for Westies

SistersOfPercy Wed 06-Aug-14 00:21:10

Westie owner here (he died last year), he was a grumpy little sod but the kids knew to leave him be. He came when dd was 2 and they grew up together. He never bit but dd respected when he needed his peace.
We also had (and now have another) a Scottish terrier who are both polar opposites of the westie in terms of temperament. Bouncy, fun loving, loyal, daft and very loving little dogs.

pigsDOfly Wed 06-Aug-14 01:36:09

You mention the possibility of getting a pom OP.

As you say they have the reputation of being a bit territorial and yappy/snappy little dogs.

Mine is now 3 years old and is an utter joy. She's intelligent and lively, loves people but prefers to play with her ball rather than other dogs, she is also pretty independent. She hardly ever barks and she has never ever snapped at anyone.

Training is the key, and properly trained they can be wonderful dogs. Unfortunately a lot of small dog owners treat their dogs like babies and that's what causes the snapping and possessive problems. Small dog have the same needs as far as training goes as any large dog.

My pom is quite large for the breed being just over 9 pound so is a bit sturdier than the tiny show type poms.

With young children around you have to be very careful with any small breed puppy in case the children get too boisterous as a very small breed puppy can be easily hurt.

As someone said up thread, if you're buying from a breeder very careful research is vitally important.

Most breeds do have their own rescues but I would imagine the chances of getting a very young puppy through a breed specific rescue might be pretty slim but always worth a try.

Camsie30 Wed 06-Aug-14 04:55:53

How sad that the suggestion of a rescue dog is something to be mocked. I have a German Spitz (same family as the Pomeranian) that I rescued 7 years ago when he was six months old and he is the most wonderful dog. No issues, loving, loyal, hilarious and sweet. All breed societies will have a rescue contact and it's worth checking them out.
The only thing with Spitz breeds is that they do love to bark! But, hey, they're dogs! They are super bright and love learning.
Google Marc Abraham, a vet who campaigns against puppy farms and has great advice on buying a puppy.
Good luck!!

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