Red flags when buying a puppy

Here are some things you should watch out for if you're planning on buying a puppy from a breeder.

Buying a puppy is a big commitment, with many factors to take into consideration. So we have identified some of the red flags when buying a puppy and what to look out for, to help you make the best, and most informed decision!

According to research by the Kennel Club, the coronavirus crisis has led to a surge in puppy ownership across the UK. However, a rise in puppy and dog sales also means a rise in false advertisements, scams and puppy farms. With so many breeders currently online to choose from, how do you know which ones are legitimately legal, morally acceptable or even real? Here are some of the warning signs to be aware of when going to buy a puppy from a breeder.

“Any breeder that cares about the welfare of their puppies will ask you questions.”

Breeders asking for money deposits or bank transfers before seeing a puppy.

If the breeders are asking for a deposit, or the payment to be paid straight away without letting you see the puppy, whether via in-person or video call then this is one of the biggest red flags when buying a puppy. Without having proof of the puppy you’re enquiring about, how do you know that it is even real and not a scam? If the breeder gets funny about you asking to see the pup, or simply refuses, then walk away.

Not asking you questions

Any breeder that cares about the welfare of their puppies will ask you questions. As much as you have a duty to find a responsible breeder, they also have a duty to find a responsible buyer. Someone that will look after the dog and give it a happy life. If they don’t ask you anything then this is a clear warning sign.

Puppies leaving the mother too early (before 8 weeks)

Puppies being sold before they are old enough is another red flag. Pups need the first 8 weeks not only to survive off their mothers but also to learn from them and be taught how to socialise with the rest of the litter. If a breeder offers you a pup before this then turn them away.

Poor living conditions and bad health

When you arrive to see the puppies pay attention to the living conditions and their health. The puppies should have access to food and water, be kept in a clean and comfortable living area, not in cages, and be visibly healthy-looking in general. The puppies themselves should be clean and have access to the mother. If you are not allowed to see the mother with the rest of the litter, they are living in poor conditions, or it just doesn’t feel right, then don’t buy the puppy.

“So what should you do if you see something wrong? Walk away, report the puppy farm or scam to your local authority, the police, or the RSPCA.”

Regularly advertising litters online

Bitches are only allowed to have 4 litters, and any litters after that will not be registered by the kennel club. It is cruel and unhealthy to make a dog have lots and lots of litters and so if a breeder is regularly advertising litters online then they are either breeding their bitch too much or selling lots of different breeds of dogs. A big red flag is when breeders promise they “always have puppies available”.

Is something wrong?

So what should you do if you see something wrong? We’re all human, and as dog lovers we all want to save and help a puppy if we can, however, saving one dog won’t help them all. In fact, if you do save one, then you’ll be contributing to the puppy farm business and subjecting more dogs to pain. Instead, you should walk away, report the puppy farm or scam to your local authority, the police or the RSPCA.

Alternatively, it is always worth buying from a reputable breeder. Paying a bit more but with proof and documents that you’re getting what you asked for will give you the confidence that they have been raised the right way. Or better still, consider getting a rescue dog instead.

Further advice

For more information and advice about buying puppies, please click the links below: