Find out which options are available to you when looking to sell gundog puppies

The task of selling a litter is best started before the puppies are born. It’s entirely possible to generate interest in your puppies before they reach eight weeks if you market the litter well. Decide where you want your advert to appear first so you can write it accordingly – there are plenty of options when it comes to advertising your puppies but each requires a different approach.

Magazines or online?

Classifieds adverts in magazines cost more than online adverts, but they reach a more targeted, qualified audience of actively-engaged buyers. It’s worth considering that buyers often think of breeders that promote their puppies in magazines as reputable, and these pages can generate a stronger response as a result.

That’s not to say online adverts should be overlooked. Classifieds websites offer exposure to a greater number of people, but these adverts are more often seen by casual browsers rather than dedicated buyers hunting for a decent puppy. A high number of responses means you can be selective in whom you sell your litter to.

The most effective way to market your puppies is to advertise both in magazines and on websites, tailoring each one to its target audience

Where to advertise

When narrowing down your choices for placing an advert in a magazine, it’s wise to balance the price with the number of people who will see the advert, giving weighting to the reputation of the magazine or newspaper too. Shooting Times, for example, has a circulation of more than 21,000 every week – head and shoulders above similar titles.

When choosing a website to advertise on, you should look at the other adverts to see if the puppies being marketed are of a similar quality to yours. If the site has just a handful of advertisements, or if the litters listed are poor, you may want to consider why other breeders don’t choose to list their dogs there.

On the other hand, while popular mainstream websites such as Gumtree – which lists as many as 6,000 dog adverts at any one time – may seem like a good idea at first glance because they offer access to a wide audience at a low price, you need to weigh up whether you think you will get genuine enquiries from the website and whether you want your litter to be working gundogs or family pets.

The Kennel Club operates an Assured Breeders scheme, which costs £50 (£20 for the joining fee, plus £30 for an annual membership fee). Part of the membership includes a free two-week online advert.

ShootingUK’s Marketplace offers listings with space for up to seven images, one of which can be swapped for a video, plus a lengthy description, for just £42. This website also gives breeders the opportunity to use relevant FTCh and FTW tags.

Having identified a suitable platform, write an accurate advert with the target audience in mind.

The title is vital
Buyers will read the title first, so you should make it short, simple and snappy. Conventionally, breeders will use this space to state the breed. The title becomes even more powerful online as it will be used by search engines; stating the breed here, without abbreviations if possible, raises the profile of your advert online.

Give detail in the description

When writing a classified advert for a magazine, you need to be clever with the limited space. Some breeders choose to use small text and squeeze as much information in as possible, while others focus on the key selling points to pique a buyer’s interest and provide more detail when they enquire.

The ability to offer a lengthy description, for example if you want to outline the litter’s heritage, is where the Internet provides real value. Most websites give you more space than you could ever need to describe everything appealing about your litter.

Just because you have all that space it does not mean you need to use it; buyers will switch off if you ask them to read through paragraph upon paragraph of irrelevant information.

Use photos
The old adage is true: a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when marketing something as photogenic as a puppy. Alongside a relevant headline, a photo will support the information included in the description, ideally while tugging at the reader’s heartstrings.

There’s no better way to back-up a statement of good breeding or good health than a photo of the sire or dam boasting their pedigree features and clean eyes. Some websites allow you to submit several photos – pictures of the puppies, the healthy, happy adult dogs and even photos of relevant certificates help present a compelling case to the buyer.

A strong photo complementing a thorough, well-timed advert will help you get a fair price for your puppies

DON’T FORGET

■ Online classifieds sites are susceptible to con artists. Beware of people trying to fleece you.
■ A well-written advert with no abbreviations and good spelling will leave a positive impression.
■ You can start advertising your litter well before eight weeks. Make sure you include the date they will be ready in the advert.

ADVICE FOR BUYERS
If you’re buying a gundog puppy:
✓ Always view the puppy with its mother – temperament is often inherited.
✓ Make sure the puppy is old enough to leave its mother. Each breed is different.
✓ How many litters has the bitch had? Six is the legal limit.
✓ Check that the puppy looks healthy.
✓ Make sure you get registration papers when you hand over payment – don’t agree to have them sent on.
✓ Can you return the puppy in 48 hours if your vet check is negative?
✓ Has the puppy been screened for hereditary diseases?
✓ Check which vaccinations the puppy has had.