My argument would be no. To me, there are many online platforms available where you are able to advertise your impending litter and find potential new owners for your puppies. These vary in all shapes and formats, if you have a Kennel Club (KC) registered breed, you can advertise through the KC via their online Find a Puppy facility.
You can also use other platforms such as Champdogs, Pets4Homes, Gumtree, Facebook groups or free papers like the Friday-Ad. You're not allowed to advertise live animals on Facebook Marketplace, but there are many Puppy for Sale groups. There is some snobbery around whether you should be using some of these platforms but personally, for me, you should use all that's available because you never know how you might find the perfect future puppy owner!
The more important thing is that, once you have the enquiries, that you do your best to vet these people correctly. You may need a more robust vetting procedure using sites that have high traffic but equally a high amount of unsuitable potentials, but sprinkled with the odd ideal person or family.
My recommendation to you is to start advertising as early as possible once pups are born. If friends and family have expressed an interest, then they shouldn’t be treated any different in your vetting process. The main focus of your time and energy should be in correctly vetting people and potential puppy owners so that puppies aren’t returned back to you with acquired problems or issues as an older dog. Typically because it hasn't been correctly trained or reared whilst in their ownership due to them being unaware or lacked the inclination to deal with pressing behavioural issues and initial causes.
By correctly vetting people, you hope to reduce if not eradicate this type of scenario. As a breeder it’s your responsibility to correctly dealt with puppies you’ve bred in this situation, and therefore also keep these dogs out of rescue. There's always big pushback and strong opinion on people breeding dogs because so many dogs end up in charities or breed rescues. As a home breeder, whether this mating was intended or not, you should do the utmost to find the best owners for your puppies and for them to be vetted comprehensively so the puppy has the minimal chance of ending up in any of these establishments.
What forms of vetting are there?
I personally really enjoy the simple solution of using a vetting form. If you have advertised on any particular online platform you're bound to get enquiries, whether that be through the phone, by email, or by text. Personally, any text messages and in fact any telephone calls received I always direct them to my online vetting form. This form is so I can gauge and gather some of their basic information, such as where they live, what their working hours are, what their experience of dog ownership is, what their experience is of this particular breed. Do they have any other animals? How many children do they have, if any?
I try to gather as much information as possible. What efforts have they made to find a puppy? What understanding do they have of the effort they need to put into this puppy going forward? What are their understanding of the grooming regime? This is a pretty easy way to be able to decline somebody if what they comment is not to your liking. Your preference may differ to another fellow breeder. For example some breeders that will not sell to people that work full time, where others will do given that they have arrangements with dog walkers or pet sitters and others may even be happy to do this as long as they already have another dog for companionship that shows no behavioural issues.
So the vetting really does come down to your own personal criteria. From this stage, I then have a telephone call with them having a frank and honest conversation, I definitely agree that you should always go with your gut feeling. At this point, if it doesn't feel right, then decline your offer for them to view the puppy.
If you are happy at this point then proceed to the next stage, I would always advise that there is a puppy visit prior to the puppy being sold/collected. Some breeders insist on at least two or three visits before the puppy leaves for their new home. Some see this is a good opportunity to be able to meet all of the family, partners and children along with any existing dogs as well. The benefits of seeing their existing pets (even in photographs if not in the flesh) enables you to gauge the owner's capability to be able to look after an animal. Are they in good condition? Are they the correct weight? How well behaved and trained are they?
I would also recommend that you take a deposit on first puppy viewing to prevent time wasters otherwise known as photo collectors or tire kickers! This deposit should be fairly substantial to the price of the puppy and should be clearly documented. The new owners should receive a receipt confirming the amount of deposit that's been left on which particular puppy, and this puppy preferably should be identifiable by microchip so there's no confusion, especially for the breeds that look the same. Also in this documentation, to save you any future inconvenience, that there is a collection date listed on this document so that the owners collect the puppy as agreed and you're plans are not disrupted from unexpected lack of availability due to holidays or other events.
To summarise, are there good and places to advertise? In my experience, no. Should you start advertising early? Yes. The earlier the better because, hopefully, that means you'll get more enquiries, which means you can be more selective with who you vet on to the next stage. Ultimately, your vetting procedure is what makes the difference into that puppy’s quality of life going forward and ultimately for the rest of its life.
I highly recommend an online vetting form (Google online form builder), then a telephone stage, and then finally a face-to-face visit. Some people will not use the online form and use a telephone call to do the vetting, which has its advantages because people won’t have the time to lie about possible answers but if you wish to decline a potential owner, having the online stage is a lot easier!
Ensure the paperwork is correct, that a sales receipt/contract and a deposit receipt is provided. Carrying out some of these simple stages will not only make your vetting procedure slicker and easier as a breeder but also that all parties are fully informed at each stage and have a clear understanding of the process. If it doesn't feel right, just don't sell them a puppy, don’t be bullied in to allowing them to have a puppy.
Many breeders nowadays offer a puppy for sale with four to five weeks free insurance. It feels a good thing to offer as a breeder as you're offering a beneficial service along with the puppy. This helps raise new owner’s awareness to the importance of ongoing pet insurance but also offers you short term coverage after initial purchase for any unforeseen illnesses or accidents at no cost to you.
If you have a Kennel Club registered dog, you'll automatically be provided the paperwork for Agria Pet Insurance Ltd. If the litter is not Kennel Club registered or are mix bred or you are seeking alternative suppliers there are companies such as Petplan and a newcomer to the market is also Buddies.
I personally would highly recommend when possible to use one of these companies to offer some peace of mind and assurance to the new owners. From my experience of the last 20 years breeding I recall having to use this interim insurance for two puppies providing peace of mind for the owner and you the breeder.
The insurance company are generous in offering this coverage in the hope the puppy owner will become a long term customer and continue the cover after the free period has ended. For this reason the insurance companies provide this coverage for free and also offer incentives to the breeder, typically in the form of shopping vouchers when Puppy Policies are activated and also if extended.
Buddies Insurance are currently offering a very, very, very good promotion. In fact, it’s no doubt the best that's on the market at this time! They are the only insurance company that will offer the breeder a cash reward, rather than the voucher system. This means you can spend the money on what you want!
Buddies are currently offering HomeScan customers a promotion of £50 Breeder registration for joining the scheme, then an additional £50 when you register your first litter for the ‘one month free (OMF)’ insurance. An additional £25 will be paid should the owners continue the insurance after the initial 4 weeks. This is super value compared to Petplan that will offer a £10 voucher for 10, yes ten puppy polices being activated and only £18 for 3 owners taking out the extended annual policies, whereas with Buddies you could easily have £100 in your pocket!
So how do you get in on this great promo?
If you are planning a litter this year you should call Buddies on the free number 0800 035 4775 and register with reference IB592, this reference is specific to HomeScan customers ensuring you get the full entitlement to this great offer!
I'm Sara otherwise known as 'Canine Family Planner' who founded HomeScan Breeder Services a premium pet-care business in 2014. I am an experienced and educated breeder, who specialises in domestic animal reproduction. I bred my first litter 20 years ago whilst in my teens and tend to breed annually. Breeding is pretty much in my DNA – a way of my life if you will! I've started this blog to share some of my knowledge and if possible help out a few like minded animal owners!