Whoever said you can’t buy love never bought a puppy.

Presumably you want a puppy which is healthy and has a good temperament. There are many kinds of breeders, at one extreme is the breeder who consciously aims to produce happy, healthy puppies - and who is very fussy about where they go. At the other extreme is the breeder whose main objective is to make money, who cares little about health and temperament and who will sell to anyone who has the cash. How do you tell the difference between these extremes? Not on price, for those who are in it for the money will charge at least as much as good breeders - they get away with it because few buyers know what to look for. So let’s look at these two extremes and find some pointers which may be helpful.

The ‘commercial’ breeder will typically offer puppies which have been registered at the Kennel Club, from parents which are not health checked. The puppies will not have been checked either, will be sold without written advice on rearing, and will usually be significantly younger than the eight weeks which should be the minimum selling age. Everyone advises buyers to see the parents - the dam should certainly be seen, together with any other dogs on the premises. However if the sire is also there, it may well be because going to a top stud dog is much more expensive than using your own (perhaps too closely related) dog, or a friend’s dog from round the corner.

The best breeders will offer a puppy from a nice natured, health tested dam (heart, kidney and hearing tested). The sire may not be tested because so few stud dog owners will have their dogs fully tested. The puppy will be at least eight weeks old, microchipped (or tattooed), have a BAER certificate saying it can hear normally in both ears, have been examined by the seller’s vet and possibly have had its first vaccination at the same time. The puppy will be registered with the Kennel Club, and full written advice on rearing to one year will be provided. The seller will be willing at all times to give further advice throughout the life of the dog, and to rehome if necessary (on the breakup of the purchaser’s marriage for example). Prices vary regionally, but in the Midlands a fair price for a puppy from a good breeder meeting the above criteria, would be about £850.

In practice, few breeders reach the standard of the ideal just described, but try to find someone who at least comes near. Check the temperament of the dam and other related dogs living there. Ask about the sire. Is he a top show dog, and if not, why not?

Where can you find breeders who have puppies? The Kennel Club has an Accredited Breeders Scheme and the breeders on it have to keep to KC standards. They are not forced to undertake the three health tests noted above but are recommended to - if the breeder doesn’t do these tests find one that does. The KC also keeps puppy lists for each breed. This does not imply KC approval - the breeder just pays a fee to go on the list. Contact the secretary of your local Bull Terrier breed club - see the Links page.

As in all transactions, ‘buyer beware’ should be your watchword. Remember that today’s cute puppy may grow into a charming adult, or an unhealthy and unreliable dog.

Please read the pages about health and about Bull Terriers.