Looking for reputable Cocker Spaniel breeders?
How can you be sure you're dealing with a professional breeder and not a puppy farmer? These great tips on what to look for and, more importantly, what to avoid, will help you find the best breeder for you!
Okay, so you've decided to plump for a Cocker Spaniel puppy - congratulations!
Getting a puppy is so exciting, but before you go out and choose your pup, let me recommend you choose your breeder first.
By making sure you have a good breeder, you'll almost certainly be guaranteed that your puppy will be healthy and well-bred with parents that have been DNA tested.
And as an added bonus, the breeder will have already begun the socialization process. In short, your puppy will have had the best possible start in life!
There are two types of breeder; a professional breeder and a hobby breeder.
Do you know the difference?
Below, I explain the differences between the two to help you decide which type of breeder you are going to use.
A professional breeder will breed and rear Cocker Spaniel puppies as their primary business focus. So they're likely to be producing puppies from several Cocker bitches at any one time.
If you choose to use a professional Cocker Spaniel breeder, try to pick one specialising in breeding only Cockers, if possible, and someone who breeds on temperament.
They may or may not have their own stud dogs, but their choice of stud dog will have been chosen very carefully.
There may well be many young puppies at any one time. They usually have too many to be reared in the family home, so they're often bred in kennels on their premises.
Most professional breeders' kennels will be immaculately clean and spacious, with small outside runs, and their puppies will be loved and well-cared for.
The pups will be checked by the vet and wormed and vaccinated; their puppies' health and happiness will be paramount.
The downside (if there is one) to puppies being reared in kennels is that they could be slightly under-socialised, which means the puppies may not have had as much human contact as they would, had they been raised in the family home.
However, a good breeder will try to make up for this and put extra effort into socialising their puppies so that when it comes to bringing home your new puppy, he'll be almost ready to fit into his new 'human world'.
This type of breeder will typically have two, perhaps three, pedigree bitches living in the home as domestic pets.
Some hobby breeders may not be as knowledgeable or have as much experience as professional cocker spaniel breeders.
Most hobbyists become breeders purely for the love of their dogs and of the breed itself.
It should be noted, though, that many hobby breeders are very professional in their approach to breeding; they're incredibly knowledgeable and take the breeding process very seriously.
Hobby breeders, like the professionals, are often very particular about who they let their puppies go to (after all, they're giving away their 'babies'!) and will vet a prospective buyer very closely.
Their puppies are often raised in the home with the rest of the family, which means their puppies will be socialised well.
When dealing with a hobby breeder, it's always good to ask how many litters they've bred to give you an idea of their experience.
The Kennel Club guidelines state that the bitch must be over one year old when mated, have no more than 4 litters in her lifetime, and certainly no more puppies after she's 8 years old.
Both professional breeders and experienced hobby breeders will be very helpful and offer you lots of advice about caring for your puppy before and after taking your puppy home.
Okay, so you've done your research, and you're holding a shortlist of Cocker Spaniel breeders in your mitt. It's time to telephone one of them and ask for further details about themselves and their puppies.
It's essential to show your breeder that you're knowledgeable about Cockers and have done at least a little research.
You'll need to satisfy them that you'll make a responsible owner and that you can give a loving home to one of their puppies. They will be really fussy about who they give their babies to, and who can blame them?
The tips and advice given here will give you an idea of informed questions to ask Cocker Spaniel Breeders and help you get to know and understand them better.
Best of all, it will ensure you find a breeder to suit you!
If you can't find a breeder near you and you're not prepared to travel, there are alternatives available to you.
You could visit local dog shows or contact the Cocker Spaniel Club for details of local breeders with Cocker Spaniel puppies for sale.
Your local vets' practice may also be a good source for puppies because they may be able to put you in touch with good Cocker Spaniel breeders.
And if you don't find someone near you, you could also try contacting the UK Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club, depending upon where you live, to see if they can offer any details of breeders registered with them.
Whatever you do, please, please, don't buy your puppy from a puppy farm!
Puppy farms (also known as puppy mills) are where puppies are bred purely for profit. Standards are low, and the welfare of the puppies and dogs are secondary.
No matter how sorry you feel for these puppies (and believe me, I understand how hard that will be), please be strong and walk away.
If you buy a puppy from a puppy mill, you may be saving one puppy, but you will be keeping a puppy farmer in business in the longer term!
Learn more about puppy farms and why you should avoid them at all costs.
I would never recommend you buy a puppy from a pet shop either because the chances are that they've sourced their puppies from a puppy farm!
Look for a responsible breeder before choosing a puppy; first, choose your breeder, then select your puppy.
Decide whether you're going to use a professional or a hobby breeder.
Remember that no matter which you decide to choose, you will still need to do a little research about the particular breeder you choose. You need to be sure that you're dealing with a reliable breeder and not a puppy farmer.
Don't buy from pet shops, as you can never be sure where these puppies originated. Usually, they come from puppy farms.
In addition, ask as many questions as you can.
If they are a responsible breeder, they'll welcome your questions. In fact, they'll expect lots of questions from you about themselves, their dogs and their puppies as it will confirm to them that you really care.
Whatever you decide, I wish you lots of luck!