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Thinking of getting a puppy? Make sure you know where your puppy comes from.

Buying a puppy is not as simple as you may think. Sadly, not all puppy breeders and sellers are reputable.

There is a dark side to the trade - puppy trafficking. This is where puppies are bred in large numbers for profit, often with little regard for animal welfare. Many puppies fall sick, and some die.
 

To avoid getting caught out by the puppy traffickers, here are some simple steps you can take:

- Be buyer beware -
Simple steps to buying a puppy


  • Always see a puppy with its mother

  • You should always see a puppy with its mother in the place where the puppy was bred. Ideally you should see the father too, or at least a photo of him. If the breeder cannot show you the mother or father, you should be suspicious.

  • Find out about the puppy's background

  • Get as much information as possible about where the puppy has come from, and beware if the breeder is from outside the UK.

  • Has the puppy REALLY been vaccinated?

  • Puppies should have received their first vaccinations before they leave their mother so always ask to see the vaccination card. Beware that vaccination cards are easy to fake - if the veterinary surgeon's contact details are not visible, or has an address from outside the UK, the card may be fake.

  • Pedigree certificates are not a guarantee

  • Bear in mind that pedigree certificates are not a guarantee for the condition of your puppy, and may not even mean you are being sold a pure-bred dog.

  • Always see a puppy in the place it was bred

  • Don't ever buy from someone who offers to deliver your puppy, or who arranges to meet you somewhere.

  • Concerned about the welfare of a puppy?

  • Never buy a puppy just because you feel sorry for it. If you are concerned about the health or welfare of a puppy, please contact the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty and advice line: 0300 1234 999. Calls are treated in the strictest confidence.

- Choosing a puppy -
Make the right choice

Puppies look cute and cuddly, but they may not be the best choice for all dog owners-to-be.

Dogs and puppies need house-training, can be very destructive and may not be ideal for families which have elderly people or very young children.

Puppies may make an elderly person trip or fall, or could be handled roughly or trodden on by a young child. An adult dog may be the best choice for people in these situations.



If you decide a puppy is the right choice for you, here is what to look out for when choosing one:

  • Check the puppy's age and immunisation record

  • Puppies must be at least eight weeks old and should have received their first vaccinations before they leave their mother.

  • Has the puppy's health been approved by a vet?

  • Purchase should be after, or conditional on, a satisfactory veterinary examination.

  • Health checks you can make yourself

  • - Avoid skinny dogs or puppies. Also avoid puppies with potbellies, as they are quite likely to have intestinal worms.

    - Never be tempted to take a puppy with runny eyes, a runny nose or a cough. Teeth should be clean and white. Gums should be pink and not smelly.

    - Make sure the puppy's bottom is clean without any signs of diarrhoea or soreness.

    - Check for fleas and other parasites. Many puppies have them but they can be treated. Brown or yellow deposits in the ears are one sign of ear mites.

  • Check the puppy's dietary requirements

  • Make sure you are given a diet sheet showing how the puppy has been fed so far - moving home is enough of an upset for a young puppy without adding to it by the stress of eating unfamiliar food.

  • Concerned about the welfare of a puppy?

  • Never buy a puppy just because you feel sorry for it. If you are concerned about the health or welfare of a puppy, please contact the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty and advice line: 0300 1234 999. Calls are treated in the strictest confidence.



Have you considered adopting a pet?
Many of the animals that come into our care have had a tough start in life. Some are victims of cruelty or neglect, others have been abandoned by their owners. So not only would you be giving an animal a new home, you would be giving a new home to an animal who really needs it.

What's more, the price you pay to adopt a pet from the RSPCA will include the cost of microchipping, neutering (when necessary), and vaccinations.

Find out more about adopting a pet from the RSPCA. 

- Your consumer rights -
What to do if things go wrong

If you buy a faulty fridge or TV you may want to return it, but you're unlikely to want to return your 'faulty' puppy.

The puppy traffickers know this and they'll use this knowledge to play on your emotions. And if the worse happens and your puppy dies, you may struggle to get a refund.

Here's what you can do:

  • Visit Consumer Direct for advice

  • If you have concerns about the way your puppy has been sold, visit Consumer Direct who will be able to give you advice and, where appropriate, pass details on to your local Trading Standards Service for investigation.

  • Has the puppy come from overseas?

  • If you suspect a puppy may have come from abroad and does not have a passport, it may be in contravention of UK anti-rabies legislation.

    Please contact either Trading Standards or the Environmental Health Service at your local authority (depending on where you live). Alternatively you can report the matter to your nearest Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Animal Health Office (Defra).

    [These links open in new windows.]

  • Concerned about the welfare of a puppy?

  • If you are concerned about the health or welfare of a puppy, please contact the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty and advice line: 0300 1234 999. Calls are treated in the strictest confidence.