We are looking to buy a puppy and I’ve read that it is important to see the mum with the pups. Please can you explain why, as I have heard of a lovely litter for sale, but the mum can’t be seen.

Sue Williams advises…

Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous people who profit by breeding dogs unethically, and they are extremely clever at hiding their lies. Under absolutely no circumstances buy a puppy from anyone who does not show you the litter’s mother. There is simply no excuse for the bitch not to be available to meet, and if she isn’t, alarm bells should ring loudly. The puppies could be from a puppy farm, or even have been illegally smuggled into the country.

When you do see the puppies’ mum, you need to check that she really is their mum; this becomes plainly evident by watching her interactions with the pups. Other signs to note: does she look like she is producing milk, or has been producing milk recently? Also remember to evaluate the mother’s mental and physical attributes. A puppy’s mother is not only responsible for 50 per cent of her puppies’ genetic make up, but she is also incredibly influential in shaping their temperament, as they learn and copy her behaviour. So, for example, if the mother is nervous of meeting new people, the puppies are highly likely to grow up with the same trait.

In the photo, I’m viewing a litter of two-week-old Labrador puppies. As you can see, proud mum Belle is more than happy for me to interact with her babies. This relaxed, positive reaction from a bitch is of paramount importance.

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