Owning a dog is a hugely rewarding experience but it also involves time and commitment. On average dogs live for around 12 years, but some may live much longer


A suitable living environment


A suitable diet


To be able to behave normally


To have appropriate companionship


To be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease



A suitable living environment



A suitable diet



To be able to behave normally



To have appropriate companionship



To be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Did you know?

The likely lifetime cost of owning a dog, including food, toys and veterinary costs varies dependent on the dog's size, breed and how long they live. Estimates range from £6,500 – £33,000. There are essential dog care items like food, collar, tag, lead, toys and bedding as well as routine veterinary care (annual health checks, vaccinations, neutering, de-worm and de-flea treatments). Your dog must be microchipped by the breeder, it is your responsibility to update the details on the microchip anytime your contact information changes. Pet insurance or similar is an important investment to help towards the cost of major illness and emergency treatment.

12 years life expectancy

£6,500 - £33,000 life time cost

Check before you buy

Please consider contacting your local animal rescue/rehoming centre

There are thousands of loving dogs and puppies all over the UK who are waiting for a forever home. By rehoming from a rescue centre you are giving an animal a second chance of a happy life. Visit to find your local rescue centre.

Research before you buy or adopt a dog, and make sure that a dog is the right choice of pet for you

Different types of dogs and individual dogs may have different requirements, personalities and temperaments. Be sure that the dog you are interested in is suitable for your lifestyle and environment. More information about dog breeds is available here: 

Research the adoption costs before adopting a dog

If you decide to adopt a dog, the adoption cost can include such things as a full veterinary and behavioural assessment, microchipping, initial vaccinations, a collar, identification tag and lead. In most cases your dog will also have been neutered or have an appointment arranged to do so. These costs represent a significant saving on the fees you could pay should you buy a dog from elsewhere.

If buying a puppy, consider going to a Kennel Club Assured Breeder

This is the only scheme for dog breeders in the UK with UKAS recognition. Buying a Kennel Club registered puppy means that you are getting a record of birth and lineage but buying from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder means that the breeder has personally been subject to extensive checks.

The Kennel Club only inspects members of its Assured Breeders scheme. If a breeder is claiming to be a Kennel Club Assured Breeder or inspected by The Kennel Club, you can check the validity of these claims with a quick search on The Kennel Club’s website. All current Assured Breeders can be searched by breed and location here:

If the breeder is not listed as an Assured Breeder, they will not have been inspected by The Kennel Club. If in doubt, you can contact The Kennel Club to check.

Utilise The Kennel Club Find a Puppy service

The Kennel Club Find a Puppy service provides contact details for all breeders who currently have Kennel Club Registered pedigree puppies available for sale and Kennel Club Assured Breeders will appear at the top of the search, with a KCAB logo next to their name. If you see an advertisement from an “Assured” breeder in a newspaper or on a website, it is strongly advised that you check with the Kennel Club that the breeder is a Kennel Club Assured Breeder before purchasing a puppy.

Download the Puppy Contract

The AWF/RSPCA Puppy Contract is free to download. It helps you ask the right questions and get the information you need to give you the best chance of buying a happy, healthy puppy.

Research the person (breeder) you are buying from

For more information on what to check before you contact the breeder, when you contact them and then when you visit them, visit

When buying a puppy, you must insist on seeing the puppy interacting with its mother and littermates in the location where they were bred and reared

It is now law that anyone wanting to get a new puppy in England, Scotland or Wales must buy direct from a breeder, or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead. When visiting a breeder, check for signs that this is where the puppy was raised such as a whelping pen, food bowls, bedding and toys and check that the litter appears alert and healthy. You should be able to handle the puppies freely under supervision. Make sure you visit more than once. When you do take your puppy home it should be at least 8 weeks old. See this infographic for more information on what to look for when choosing a puppy.

Always ask for a copy of the puppy’s medical records, including vaccination certificate and records of worming and flea treatment

Certain health conditions are more common in certain breeds, so its parents should have relevant health screening certificates, showing the likelihood of the pups being affected. If you are getting a crossbreed, where the parents are two different breeds, it is equally important to ask for the health test certificates relevant to the breed, for both mum and dad. You can find information on the health concerns to look out for on the Kennel Club’s Breed Information Centre and the Dog Breed Health's guide to genetic health issues. It is also important to look at the health implications of a breed's colourings, for more information visit the Kennel Club website

Currently in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland anyone breeding three or more litters of puppies a year must be licensed by the Local Authority

If you have any concerns about a breeder you can and should report them to the Local Authority they are based in.

Not only is having your dog microchipped now a legal requirement, it is one of the best ways to increase a lost dog’s chance of getting back home should they go missing

When buying a dog, make sure that it has already been chipped and the microchip has been registered on one of the microchip databases by the breeder. As soon as you collect your dog make sure to change the contact details on the microchip database to your own. It is important to keep your details on the microchip up to date any time your contact information changes, such as your home address and telephone number.

Consider insuring your puppy or dog in case of the need for expensive and potentially life-saving medical treatment

There are many different sorts of insurance available, so do your research to get the most appropriate one for your pet.

Common Scams

Puppies being sold with a ‘fake’ mum to make it look like they are in a family home

Sellers promising to post on medical or pedigree paperwork

Puppies being sold that have been imported from abroad often too young and without the appropriate vaccinations

Sellers offering to meet you ‘halfway’ seems generous but they probably just want to stop you knowing where they live or where the puppies have been bred

People asking for money for pet couriers or deposits upfront without you even seeing a puppy, which might not even exist

Sellers telling you that you can't see the mum because she's at the vet, or out on a walk

Sellers saying "It's normal for the breed" about any health issues such as snoring or back problems - all puppies should be born with the best chance of living happy, healthy lives whatever breed they are

Sellers offering a 'rare' breed colour

Government Codes of Practice on how to meet the five welfare needs for dogs: