Finding the Right Cockapoo Breeder
Once you have made your decision to buy a Cockapoo and have chosen the type that you would like, the next step is to do lots of research into finding the right breeder. This is essential to ensure that you don't fall into the hands of unscrupulous breeders and puppy farmers. You need to take your time and feel confident that you have chosen the right breeder, someone you feel you can trust and will be on hand to support you throughout the whole buying experience and afterwards if required.
Where to look
Word of mouth and personal recommendations are a good place to start. Ask people you know who own them or you can use dog forums and ask on these too. Some vets may also know of local breeders.However, these are only recommendations based on personal preferences and should be used as part of your screening process.What one person may feel is appropriate in their breeder another may not, so always do your own research on breeders that are recommended to you. Jot down any names given and then start to investigate whether they will be the right breeder for you.
Sometimes you will come across them advertised on free ad websites and newspapers but a word of caution here, if you do see one advertised you are interested in, then you need to investigate the breeder further, as they can be used by puppy farmers and brokers.
They often use homes as a front to offload sick, very young, or unsold puppies or selling on puppies for other breeders.
Also ex breeding bitches and dogs that they held back to breed from but changed their minds, but not actually declaring they are breeders.
Or they could be illegally imported puppies, so always do checks and ask questions.
Google search the telephone number, it often comes up with other adverts, so sometimes you can calculate timing of litters, google search the name.. Also brings up several things sometimes, also check images against those searches,we have found sellers to post google images of pups, or to copy pictures from other breeders and post as their own, check with the council what license they operate under.
The most important thing of all TRUST YOUR GUT INSTINCTS, if you feel unsure, walk away and find a breeder you can trust 100%.
Should I get a puppy from a larger licensed breeder or a hobby breeder?
This is down to personal preference and what breeder fulfils your own personal requirements. Have a look at our guidelines on choosing a breeder for questions you may need to ask or consider.
A hobby breeder ( or someone saying they just bred the family pet)
A hobby breeder is either someone who breds just the once or not more than 3 litters a year for sale, otherwise they need a licence. However if they breed under 3 litters and are breeding profit they may still be required to be licensed. www.gov.uk/government/news/new-plans-to-crack-down-on-backstreet-puppy-breeders
Therefore availability of pups will be restricted .
A hobby breeder may breed from dogs as pets and usually they stay with them through their lifetime, although there may be times when a dog is re-homed.
A hobby breeder generally keeps the dogs in the house and not kennels.
A hobby breeder is more likely to use the services of a stud dog rather than own the stud, though not in all cases.
A licensed breeder
A breeder if licensed ( by council) will have more puppy availability, though you may have to go on waiting lists.
A licensed breeder may breed as a business and therefore dogs may be sold or re-homed when their breeding time has come to an end. This is due to not being able to keep lots of ex-breeding bitches on as pets and to allow new breeding stock to be acquired.
A licensed breeder may have several breeding bitches and or/studs and therefore due to larger numbers will keep them in kennels and not the home.
A licensed breeder is more likely to own studs therefore get to see the father as well. This also enables them to provide Stud services.
The breeding and sale of Dogs welfare Act : People who breed 3 or more litters in any 12 month period need to be licensed via the local authority. Even if you breed less than 3 litters per year, you may need to be licensed if the local authority deems that you are breeding for commercial gain.
Breeders who are licensed must undergo inspection, keep detailed records, must not breed from any bitch under 12 months old from when she last whelped .
When you visit a licensed breeder as well as the other questions and points mentioned below, also look at where puppies are kept and raised. Points to consider are whether the puppies and dogs are kept outside, is the housing clean and tidy and is their enough space?
Ask the breeder if puppies have access to other areas and how do they socialise the puppies?
Look at how the dogs and puppies interact with the breeder. Do they seem comfortable around them and not scared or nervous to approach them?
Do they have an up to date licence? If not on show then ask to see a copy.
Do they have any references from previous buyers to hand?
A licensed Breeder must undergo inspection, keep detailed records, and adhere to the licencing requirements and Animal Welfare Act
So a licensed Breeder will mean I will have protection then as they have been inspected?
Unfortunately that is not always the case as there are puppy farmers and bad breeders who have secured licences. Whilst there are many good breeders who are licensed, the inspections are not 100% guarantee that a breeder is a responsible and "Ethical" breeder. Do you checks and research and listen to your gut instincts.
Should I avoid those that are cheaply priced in comparison to others?
Price is not an indication of quality and assurance that a breeder is responsible and ethical. Price is often down to supply and demand and some breeders will charge what they can if there are willing buyers.
I would however be more wary of those that sound too "cheap" as often they will be from breeders who have not health tested etc... as breeding the right way is expensive. As always do you research, ask questions, listen to your intuition, if any doubts then walk away.
Look around at what an 'average' price would be, but don't rule out ones that may be somewhat cheaper, instead rule out ones that do not meet your requirements or have had no health tests etc... or set alarm bells ringing.
Breeders can be clever with their marketing, often drawing in people with the word "rare " in terms of colour and charging a premium. Please note often many colours will fade and the puppy you started off with could look completely different as an adult.
In our opinion colours and the sex should not affect price, one pups life should not be valued "more" than anothers. A good breeder will not be segregating their litter into which ones can be sold for a higher price, but would value all the pups in the litter equally, over any monetary gains.
What to look for in a breeder and questions to ask or consider.
Are the pups 8 weeks old and not younger?
Pups should be 8 weeks or older so that they have had plenty of time with mum and litter mates for the best start in life and to learn socialisation skills and bite inhibition.
Are the parent dogs of the pups advertised health tested and can this be proved i.e. copy of certificates?
Make sure they have been health tested for conditions such as Prcd-PRA which is a DNA test and the breeder will have a copy of the test results to show you. As a minimum for PRA you need to see evidence that at least one of the parents is tested clear. The Cockapoo Owners Club would like to see both of the parents having tests and we are beginning to see some breeders doing more than PRA.Health checked just means they have been given the once over by a vet. Please also read the Health Test Section on websitefor further information.
For info on Eye Tests:
There are two type of tests. One is a DNA test that is carried out once in dogs lifetime and is sent to a lab like Optigen, Labolkin, and you will get a certificate, the other is a health eye screen done yearly by BVA scheme. For poodles and Spaniels the DNA test that applies to both breeds and the one most frequently done is prcd-pra . Results are Clear, Carrier or Affected.
If parent is KC reg and on KC Health finder database it will be down as DNA eye test.
The other is a BVA eye test. ( The BVA/KC/ISDS Eye scheme) These are normally carried out yearly and give a result for the dogs current eye health.
In addition BVA eye tests can include Glaucoma for spaniels and Heriditary Cataracts and Multi-focal Retinal Dysplasia for American Cockers.
These are passed onto the KC health finder if dogs are KC reg and will be down as BVA tests, these results are either unaffected or affected. For Glaucoma for example there will be a G under the test.
When you see breeders advertising make sure you that you know which test has been done and the result. Some can be vague...."has been eye tested" for example, so always ask and check.
Some may be "clear by parentage" , this usually means that the grandparent/s were tested clear and the dogs parents have not had test themselves. So if in doubt ask, make sure you are happy with the answers.
If breeder doesn't supply , ask for a copy of the cert/test results. You pay good money for these dogs and are entitled for proof that these tests have been done.
Are the parents viewable?
You may not always be able to see the stud but should be given information about him.
The breeder now must show mum with pups. If mum is not viewable why? It could be that she has been overbred and in poor condition or maybe the breeder has not bred them, but is what is known as a puppy broker who is selling them on for others and often these can be puppy farmers.Therefore if they can't show the mum...walk away.
Look at how mum is in her condition, does she look healthy? does she look like she has given birth?, does she show interest in her pups?
how does the litter interact with each other and the mum ?
How is mum around the breeder? is she clearly a much loved dog? or is she scared and nervous of the owner, and not used to being handled , that may indicate warning signs that she could be used only for breeding and not had any socialisation etc....or being a puppy farmed bitch.
Sadly, Puppy farmers can often use a bitch to pretend be the "mum" giving buyers false security. Or use a mum that has had one litter but use her as the acting 'mum" to show buyers of other litters.
Are the parents KC registered?
This is only applicable to F1 crosses and relates to the parents of the puppies, the Spaniel and the poodle. You can ask to see proof of KC registration. KC reg means that some of the health tests may be listed on the KC health test finder database and you may have more of a trackable family tree than dogs that are non KC registered. Being KC reg does not 100% guarantee the dogs are better or healthier, so having a KC reg parent is not the answer to not having no health tests done. To use the KC Health finder you will need the KC name or KC reg number of the dog. You simply key the details in and any BVA or Kennel club approved DNA tests will be shown. See here :
What age are the parents and how many litters has the mum had?
Although many clubs and societies are happy to recommend a bitch be mated from as young as 12- 14 months old.Our personal preference is for a bitch to be at least 2 years old before being mated. This is because we believe the dog to be emotional and physically more mature and ready, as cocker spaniels are slow to mature.
They should not breed every season, so no more than one litter per year and we would like to see no more than three or four litters in a bitches lifetime, and not not be bred from after the age of six years old.
Bitches that have one litter after another.i.e breed on every season is know as back to back breeding it means that the bitch has not had time to recover and usually indicates a breeder breeding for financial gain with no respect for the welfare of the dog. So if you see a bitch has had a litter in Feb 2012 and then the same bitch has another litter in say Nov 2012, then that is back to back breeding.
What happens to the breeding bitches after they are no longer required for breeding?
Licensed breeders tend to move a lot of the breeding dogs on once their breeding time is ended so that they can require new dogs to breed from. So you can ask "Are they family pets that remain in the home with the breeder or does the breeder rehome them?" How do they rehome them? It's always good to know that your breeder has a duty of welfare and care to the rehoming of her ex breeding bitches and stud dogs.
Ex breeding bitches should be spayed before rehoming to prevent someone continuing to breed from them if they are being retired from breeding.
Have the pups been wormed regularly?
Ideally the breeder should provide you with details and what wormer used. Pups are usually wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age. From 12 weeks to 6 months old they need worming monthly and after that every 3 months.( If using a conventional wormer)
Will the pups be vaccinated and flea treated?
Some breeders may de-flea pups at 8 weeks of age with a chemical de-flea spot on treatment like Frontline or Advocate and some may give their pups first vaccinations but this can be done by the owner when they bring them home. Some breeders may not agree with subjecting young puppies to chemical flea treatments, rather leaving the choice to the owner.
Vaccinations are given normally at either 8 and 10 weeks or 10 and 12 weeks dependant on the vet you use. If you breeder has vaccinated make sure they give you the vaccination record so you know the brand they use as vets like to give the second injection using the same brand, otherwise some vets may insist on vaccinations being done from scratch. Some breeders may not vaccinate, leaving that choice to the owner, and also due to vets requiring the same brand to be used which may not be available if your breeder leaves in different area to you.
Have the puppies been raised indoors?
A puppy raised indoors will be more use to household noise such as hoovers and washing machines and being around people, children and possibly other pets etc., this is a good start to their socilaisation which is very importnat stage of the pups development.
If raised in kennel, ask breeder if puppy has had any socialisation in home and around people etc...
Is my puppy microchipped?
From the 6th of April 2016, all dogs must be microchipped and registered to an approved database by the time they are 8 weeks old.
Further info here : www.gov.uk/get-your-dog-microchipped
Does the breeder offer on-going support?
Is the breeder willing to be on hand if you need advice? Would they take the puppy back if the need arises?: A responsible breeder will offer ongoing support for your puppy and will take back a puppy and look to re-home if a situation arises where sadly you are unable to keep it.
Does the breeder offer a contract?
Not all will, but at least make sure you get proof of sale. Also ask if the puppy comes with a health guarantee i.e. you have an allotted time to get puppy health checked by vet and if anything is medically wrong get a full refund. You can download a puppy contract here to use : https://puppycontract.rspca.org.uk/home
Does the pup come with free insurance?
Some breeders give you Petplan's insurance which is free for the first 4 weeks. Make sure that you have all the details in your name and remember to renew it or take out alternative cover before it expires.
Does the puppy come with a puppy pack?
Breeders can often give you written advice to take-home on puppy care, some give toys and blanket with mum's scent and hopefully they should give you some of the food they have been feeding so that you can continue to feed the same type until you decide what you wish to feed puppy. Also make sure if your puppy has had vaccination you take home the vaccination record and if microchipped the companys details. Some may you give you the pup's ancestry, this is usually a family tree of at least 3-5 generations.
Does the breeder require a deposit?
Many do and often this is not refundable.
Does the Breeder ask you questions?
Responsible breeders will ask questions of you to ensure that you are going to be the right owners for their puppies. Don't feel threatened by this, they may ask you about your lifestyle or working conditions. it is not to be nosey but to ensure that you are the right owner for their pups.
Once you have had your questions answered and feel happy- the next step would be to arrange a visit to see puppy and meet breeder:
I asked the breeder about health tests but they said there is no need due to hybrid vigour in crossbreeds?
Hybrid vigour or "heterosis" is the name given to theory that the mating of two different types will produce better health and longevity in the first generation cross. This is a subject that is split into two camps with those who believe it exists and those who don't.
It should never in our opinion replace the need for health testing as the dogs who are to be mated should be tested for the relevant conditions they can pass on and some breeds are prone to the same genetic conditions. Whilst it is true that some genetic diseases are recessive and would need both parents to pass on the faulty genes, always look for breeders that have had health tested their breeding stock. At present PRA testing in the poodles seems to be the one most Cockapoo breeders are doing although we are now seeing some breeders begin to test for other conditions.
Lucys Law : www.gov.uk/government/news/lucys-law-spells-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-puppy-farming
The age of the puppy at which you can visit can be different from breeder to breeder, but breeders have to take into consideration the welfare of their puppies being exposed to people coming in from outside and spreading potential disease such as Parvovirus.
Listen to your gut instincts, if something doesn't look or feel right then walk away!! The only way to stop puppy farming is to stop buying, that means you may have to walk away from that cute pup. Buying the pup means you are condemning the mum and dad to more litters and fuels this awful trade. We can only stop them by not providing them with an income.
Look at the parent/s and check their condition and general well-being and how they behave around people. Does mum look healthy? Does the mum look like she has had a litter and not one that has been subsituted? Ask the breeder about their temperaments and personalities.
if you are going to view a litter then ideally you should be seeing the whole litter together and seeing how the litter interact and play with each other and their relationship with their mum.
What is the housekeeping like? Is the place clean? Do they have access to clean drinking water? Where are puppies kept? Avoid dirty places and places where dogs are kept in cramped conditions without proper ventilation. A bit of untidiness isn't a problem as raising puppies can take a lot of work but filth and general bad housekeeping isn't a good sign.
Do you feel the breeder knows the dogs well? How do they interact with the dogs? Make sure the dogs don't seem nervous around the breeder or scared, look for happy and relaxed dogs.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, and likewise a good breeder will want to ask questions too.
The breeder would want to meet the whole family and welcomes you to make several visits.
To make the best match, the breeder may want to meet everyone who will be living with the puppy. They want you to take the time to make the right decision; a high pressure sale is a big no-no.
Other important things to check:
*Make sure you see the mum at the same location, with her pups, and be wary if excuses are made as to why she is not there.If so walk away.
* Look for clues that the puppy was actually born there.
* Does it look like the breeder actually lives at the property?
*Ask to see certificates of screening for PRA and any other tests they claimed to have done, vaccination records and microchipping details
* Check pup for signs of good health : Clean coat, no matts, clear bright eyes, no runny eyes or discharge, clean ears, no odour, discharge or signs of ear mites. Clean bum, no signs of worms or upset tummy
* Ensure the seller knows what specific food the puppy is on
* If seller seems vague and not sure of things, only interested in getting a sale, they maybe a puppy vendor, selling on dogs for other breeders often puppy farmers.
* Beware if the seller asks which puppy you have come to see as it indicates they are breeding more than one litter or more than one breed , multiple litters and multiple breeds available often incidates breeders breeding purely for money.
* Beware if the sex or colour of the dog is different to your previous enquiries
If you are bringing in a dog from outside UK : www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/pet-passport
What to Avoid
Don't be rushed or pressured into choosing, paying a deposit or buying a puppy on the day.
Don't fall for gimmicks and marketing ploys such as rare colours. Cockapoos come in a variety of colours and one colour should not be more expensive than another.The same goes for sex, boys and girls should be the same price.
A health test is different from a health check. A health check is usually the once over by the vet and a health test is test carried out by specialists for certain genetic and health conditions such as DNA testing for certain condition such as PRA. Please ensure you clarify the tests or checks the parent dogs have had.
If the parents have been health tested make sure that you know the results. Health tested could mean that they have been tested but the results may be that they have carrier or affected status for the condition.* see health test section. Click Here
We don't recommend that you buy siblings unless you are an experienced dog owner used to owning siblings, especially if the breeder offers you a deal for buying two.Whilst it may seem appealing to buy two puppies from the same litter it is not advisable. They often end up either having a very strong bond with each other, and are therefore less interested in you. This can pose problems with training or sibling rivalry, where they can be aggressive towards each other.
Most people are aware that these horrid places do exist and unfortunately they do not all fit the stereotype of dogs being kept in sheds ,but often homes can be used as a front. Puppies can be transferred into homes to make it look like they have been raised in by a family, so all buyers must really be on alert when looking to buy a puppy or dog.
Follow the guidelines relating to choosing a breeder: ASK questions and if in any doubt walk away.
Make sure you always view the puppy at the breeders and do not agree to meet a breeder half-way. Puppy farmers and brokers often say they can deliver and arrange to meet you. When faced with a cute puppy in their arms it is hard to not want to take it. A responsible breeder will welcome you into their home to view puppies, parents and the environment they have been bred in. They will not want to offload a puppy half-way up the M1!
There are organisations working at trying to put a stop to puppy farming and there have been petitions to various councils and MPs' in a bid to stop them or to alert people to the dogs plight. If you look on the internet you can find numerous websites campaigning against puppy farming and they would be the best place to report any finding on puppy farming you may have.You can also contact Trading Standards.
What To Do If You Have Suspicions About a Puppy Farmer or a breeder that needs investigating.
Prospective buyers who suspect they are meeting a puppy farmer or agent should never agree to purchase the puppy – this simply fuels the trade, causing even more puppies and breeding bitches to suffer.
The following advice taken from PuppyLove Campaigns ( now closed 17/5/20 )
Firstly, it is very important you report your complaint to the relevant authorities and organisations as it will enable them to keep records of complaints against breeders/sellers.
RSPCA/SSPCA: If you believe there to be an immediate welfare threat to any pup you may have seen or your puppy became sick soon after purchase or your puppy developed a condition/illness later in life that you feel was directly linked to how your puppy was bred, log your complaint with the RSPCA/SSPCA. The RSPCA/SSPCA will prioritise an investigation into a breeder or puppy seller if they receive a number of complaints showing a pattern of selling sick puppies.
RSPCA Cruelty Hotline – 0300 1234 999 - Wales and England Only
SSPCA Cruelty Hotline – 03000 999 999 - Scotland Only
Online Reporting – http://www.rspca.org.uk/utilities/contactus/reportcruelty
LOCAL AUTHORITY: If you have bought a puppy that very soon shows signs of illness or have any concerns about a breeder or puppy seller, contact your Local Authority. The Animal Licensing or Environmental Services Department deal with all matters relating to breeders and puppy sellers, specifically the licensing of these business. Contact details can be found on your Local Authority website under Animal Licensing or Environmental Services/Health.
CONSUMER RIGHTS: The Consumer Rights Act 2015. Sales of puppies are covered under consumer law including the Sale of Goods Act. If you have bought a sick puppy or have been misled in any way (false documentation/false information about where your puppy was bred), it is imperative you contact Citizens Advice who will provide advice and forward your complaint to the proper place.
SMALL CLAIMS COURT: Puppies are considered ‘goods’ in the eyes of the law and are therefore treated in the same way as any other goods under the Sale of Goods Act. The ‘Small Claims Court’ covers claims up to £10,000 and the time limit for a Small Claims Court is 6 years from the date of purchase.
ONLINE CLASSIFIEDS: If the breeder or puppy seller is using online classifieds, please contact the online classifieds company immediately (all have a Report facility) so that they may undertake their own investigation and if necessary remove the advert and block the seller.
KENNEL CLUB: If the breeder or puppy seller states their puppies are KC registered or the breeder is part of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, please contact the Kennel Club immediately. Remember, Kennel Club registered is different to an Assured Breeder as the registration only applies to the puppies and not the breeder. KC Registration is a registry of puppies bred – nothing more. Do not lose sight of the fact that the Kennel Club are happy to register certain breeds from many puppy farmers.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Contact your local MP about your concerns as he or she may be able to assist. Also do not forget that Scotland and Wales have devolved parliaments so you need to ensure you contact the right person.
UNLICENSED BREEDERS/DEALERS: If you suspect someone is breeding and selling dogs as a business i.e. it is a profit making enterprise irrespective of the number of litters, and they are doing so without a breeding licence, contact your Local Authority Licensing Department.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: If you wish to obtain a list of licensed dog breeders and licensed pet shops selling puppies in your area, you can do so by sending a Freedom of Information request to your Local Authority. All Council websites have a section on Freedom of Information requests.
HMRC: If you suspect the breeder/seller is not paying tax and should be, report them to HMRC.
BENEFIT FRAUD: If you suspect the breeder/seller is claiming state benefits and have not declared their breeding/selling activities to the authorities, report them to the Department of Work and Pensions.
ILLEGAL PUPPY IMPORTS: If you suspect someone is illegally importing puppies, please contact your local authority Trading Standards Department.
LOCAL POLICE: If you suspect someone is operating an illegal puppy farm, pet shop or is illegally importing puppies, please contact your local police and either RSPCA or SSPCA.
Preloved, Gumtree and online adverts.
You will find all types of breeders uses this means to advertise their puppies. If you choose this method then you need to be careful and do your research. There are good breeders who do advertise on these places, but you have to sift them out. As with any breeder, make sure that the questions and guidelines we have provided have been met and you feel this is the right breeder for you.
The dangers of these sites are :
1. They can be used by puppy farmers to sell puppies either as themselves or using families as a front.
2. Breeders may just be offloading older puppies /sick puppies they couldn't sell, whilst this is not a problem if the breeder is open and honest and the criteria is met ,dodgy breeders could be offloading by again using families and a sob story.
3. Lucys Law came into effect April 2020 : www.gov.uk/government/news/lucys-law-spells-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-puppy-farming
Always, Always ask the same questions whether it be a personal advert or a breeder website. You pay a lot of money, make sure you get a healthy puppy, bred well, tested for a minimum of PRA. It could save heartache down the line.
If in doubt or your instincts are telling you something is not right..then walk away.
Anyone owning a dog should observe the Animal Welfare Act : www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/45/contents
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