Tips for buying a puppy: avoid puppy scams

November 10, 2019

Getting a puppy is easy – right? Sadly not. Many puppy buyers get scammed by rogue breeders or traders. Their only interest is to make a quick buck from a sale of a puppy to unsuspecting buyers. With a seasonal peak in sales anticipated, here’s our tips for buying a puppy and how to avoid puppy scams. 

According to new figures released by the Dogs Trust, online search queries about getting a puppy or a dog rise significantly in the run up to Christmas. These new statistics are released as the dog rescue charity issues its annual message that ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’. 

The summer months – particularly during the school holidays – are also a popular time for getting a puppy. The extended break over the summer holidays is a good time for getting a puppy settled into their new home. 

Puppy scams

Unfortunately, these seasonal peaks in puppy buying also means that people are susceptible to puppy scams. These unscrupulous traders play on people’s emotions, knowing how difficult it is to walk away from a cute puppy. According to the RSPCA, reports about puppy farms in the UK have soared by 390 per cent in the last decade. The UK puppy trade is big business. It is reported that puppy smugglers can make as much money as drug dealers. 

There is some good news, however, for puppy buyers in England. Lucy’s Law, which aims to crack down on unscrupulous puppy traders, is set to come into effect in spring 2020. It bans the sale of puppies from third parties. For example, pet shops or online traders – which means that buyers will need to deal directly with breeders. 

Scores on the doors

In 2018, tighter regulations for dog breeding were also introduced in England. Now, anyone who breeds three litters and sells at least one puppy in a 12 month period, must be licenced. The regulations also include a new star rating system. It scores dog breeders according to how well they meet certain welfare standards. The rating is from 1 – 5, with 5 stars being a high scoring establishment. The new scoring system aims to help prospective puppy buyers find a good dog breeder, as well as improve dog breeding welfare standards. Regulations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland currently remain unchanged.

Assured Puppy Breeder Scheme

To help prospective puppy buyers find good breeders, the Scottish SPCA has launched an Assured Puppy Breeders Scheme as part of its ongoing efforts to tackle the illegal puppy trade. Prospective puppy buyers will be able to search for dog breeders who meet certain criteria based on a framework for responsible breeding which has been developed by the SSPCA.

Buyer beware

Despite steps being taken to crack down on the puppy trade, caveat emptor or ‘buyer beware’ remains the all-important message to puppy buyers. To help puppy buyers prepare for and find their perfect puppy, without falling prey to the puppy scammers, we’ve created the Puppy Buyer 3Ps (tip: there’s 3Ps in ‘puppy’ to help you remember). These are:

  1. Prepare

2. Protect

  • Only ever buy from licensed and accredited dog breeders or adopt from good rescue centres.
  • Use the Puppy Contract to give you peace of mind that your puppy has been well bred, properly socialised and is healthy.

3. Pick

  • Know how to pick the right puppy from a litter. Always see a puppy with its mother in the place where it was born and only ever choose a puppy that has been bred in a family home. 

Read one puppy buyer’s experience: Choosing the perfect puppy for our family

Have you ever been caught by a puppy scammer? We’d like to hear your story