​​​​​​Where NOT to buy a dog: puppy farms, puppy dealers and pet shops

Where not to buy a dog © Caroline Miles


Puppy farms 

Puppy farms are like factory farms where dogs are bred purely for profit. The dogs are normally bred too often, many are unhealthy, and often live in unbearably poor conditions. The puppies are generally removed from their mothers far too early and sent by rail or van to 'dealers' or pet shops to satisfy the public's demands.

Many are severely traumatised by the transition, and some do not make it alive. Do not buy a puppy or a dog from these sources, as they will have had the worst possible start in life, and are far more likely to have health and temperament problems.

Many 'puppy farm' puppies come with complete pedigrees, however, a pedigree in itself, is not necessarily an indication of quality. Find out more about the Kennel Club's Stop Puppy Farming campaign.


Puppy dealers 

'Dealers' are agents for puppy farms. They buy puppies and sell them on, advertising them in newspapers and magazines, often masquerading as breeders. If an advert lists more than one breed of puppy for sale, then the person placing it is probably a dealer (but not always). Ask if you can see the mother with the puppies, and if they make an excuse about why the mother cannot be seen, do not buy a puppy from them. Never buy a dog from the back of a van at a motorway service station or from an airport (such as Heathrow) car park, as this is how many dealers operate.

Pet shops 

Do not buy a puppy or a dog from a pet shop as it is likely to have originated from a puppy farm. Good breeders would never sell their puppies via a pet shop, despite what you may be told. with the dog you have purchased? 

Problems with the dog you have purchased?

The purchase of a puppy is one of the most important decisions that a new owner may make. In the vast majority of cases both the breeder and new owner will be happy. However, what happens when things do not go as smoothly as they should and particularly where there is some doubt over a puppy's pedigree?

The Kennel Club does not register breeders, and therefore we are not able to become involved in disputes arising from the purchase of a dog.

Your rights as a purchaser are going to be based upon the contract with the breeder. The sale of a dog might be covered under the general terms of the Sales of Goods Act 1979and as such there will be legal rights and remedies available.

However, it may be better first to approach the breeder and attempt to openly discuss any issues and to try and reach an amicable solution to any problems.

It may be that there are also statutory rights under the Trades Description Act to explore and therefore your local Trading Standards Office or Citizens Advice Bureau should be able to give you some guidance. This applies both for breeder and owner. Alternatively, advice can be sought from a solicitor, although undoubtedly it is best to resolve any problems directly with the people concerned. 

Advertising Advisory Group 

The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) was created in 2001 to combat the growing concern amongst animal welfare organisations regarding unethical classified advertising of pets. In certain cases, such ads were illegally offering dogs banned under the Dangerous Dog Act, endangered animals or advertising establishments which were not fit for the breeding or boarding of animals.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 a pet owner has a legal duty to ensure the welfare of their animal[s]. A pet's welfare needs include a proper diet, somewhere suitable to live, any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals, allowing animals to express normal behaviour, free from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

PAAG is comprised of the following organisations: Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, The Blue Cross, Cats Protection, The Kennel Club, The Mayhew Animal Home, Wood Green Animal Shelters, DEFRA, Metropolitan Police, Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund, and the RSPCA.

PAAG also works closely with: Loot, Auto Exchange & Mart and the Pet Care Trust.

The PAAG website offers downloadable advice booklets, practical tips and fillers for consumers and publishers alike and aims to promote best practice, provide uniformity, transparency and ultimately improve the welfare of the animals being bred, bought and sold via newspapers and online. It also offers a growing library of resources to help answer questions, download fillers and links for publications and websites.

Are you ready for a dog?

Dog ownership is a decision that brings many rewards with it. These can include a healthier lifestyle, improved sociability and sense of community, as well as companionship.

To ensure that you are able to enjoy these benefits it is essential that you ask yourself the following questions before getting a puppy or dog:

  • Can I afford to have a dog? Ongoing expenses such as food, veterinary fees and canine insurance can cost roughly £25 a week.
  • Can I make a lifelong commitment to a dog? A dog's average life span is 12 years.
  • Is my home big enough to house a dog?
  • Do I really want to exercise a dog every day?
  • Will there be someone at home for a dog? Dogs get lonely just like humans.
  • Will I find time to train, groom and generally care for a dog?
  • Will I be able to answer YES to these questions every day of the year?

If you have answered 'NO' to any of the above, you should think again before getting a dog.