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How to make sure you’re not buying a stolen gundog

Sadly gundog theft is on the rise. So how can you make sure your new dog comes from a reputable source?

male or female dog

So you’re looking to buy a gundog puppy or part/fully-trained gundog. But how do you avoid buying a stolen dog? Dog theft is on the rise so how can you make sure you’re not unwittingly supporting it?

How to avoid buying a stolen dog

Follow your gut instinct. There are a few signs to look out for if you come across a dog that makes you wonder about its origins.

  • Is the dog priced inexpensively? Would you expect to pay more for the breed?
  • Is the seller in a hurry? If so, why?
  • Don’t take your children along to look at puppies. Your judgement will be flawed and you’ll be put under a lot of pressure which a dodgy seller will take advantage of.
  • Be suspicious if the seller isn’t asking you any questions. You should be asked about the sort of life you lead, your work, what the dog will be doing, where it will sleep and the sort of work it will be expected to do. A reputable gundog seller will want to know all of this.
  • If you’re buying a puppy ask to see the mother and ask to have a short demonstration of her abilities. Is she really capable of what the seller claims? Is she clueless about retrieving a tennis ball in the garden? If so, she’s almost certainly not a true Field Trial Champion.
  • As a buyer you have the right to know and understand everything about your potential dog’s heritage. Don’t feel a nuisance by asking searching questions.
  • Be very suspicious if the seller won’t let you see the dog at home. It is vital that you see a puppy’s mother in the home environment. Firstly you need to be clear you aren’t buying the dog from a puppy farm and secondly going to the home allows you to make a quick assessment. Don’t go alone, take an adult family member or friend with you.
  • The seller should be happy for you to visit the puppy as many times as you like before it is ready to leave at eight weeks. Puppies should stay with their mother until this time and if the seller suggests you taking the dog before then you should be suspicious. If the puppies have been bred from a stolen bitch then the owner will want to convert them into cash as soon as possible.
  • Make sure your puppy comes with all the necessary paperwork. Has it been microchipped? Has its tail been legally docked by a vet? If it is Kennel Club registered do the certificates match up?
working cocker spaniel puppy

Always make sure you see the puppy with its mother

Reader experience

West Sussex-based Marc Catchpole bought a working cocker puppy he’d seen advertised online. However, he made sure that he did plenty of background checks prior to seeing the dog:  He comments: “We originally found our new puppy on a website. Before we even contacted the breeder, we Googled her name to see what popped up. As she was fairly local to us, we then asked a couple of gamekeepers whether they’d come across her. So far so good, but we still went with our eyes open for our first visit. We soon had a good understanding of what sort of person the breeder was, and felt comfortable that we were buying a puppy from someone that clearly adores her dogs and looks after them well. The fact that we were able to see both the mother and father was a real bonus too. Buying from an online advertisement is no different from responding to something pinned up on the noticeboard at the vet’s or elsewhere. As long as you apply common sense, you should not get stung.”