How to spot a puppy dealer

Puppy dealers are sourcing puppies from puppy farms across Europe at an alarming rate. These dealers have no concern for the appalling conditions that the pups were born in and often transport them whilst they are underage and in unsuitable conditions (i.e. the boot of a car).

Dealers often rent houses to sell the puppies they’ve bought. These normal looking homes are a shop front for unscrupulous puppy dealing rings who want to sell you a likely sick and traumatised animal.

The warning signs

Worried that you may be buying from a puppy dealer? Look out for these signs.

  1. You may be rushed into parting with cash in exchange for a puppy.
  2. Do not pay a deposit for a pet you haven’t met in person.
  3. They may try to fob you off by saying that the puppy’s mother is at the vets, asleep or out for a walk. If the mum isn’t there, then the puppy wasn’t bred there.
  4. If mum is present she should be interacting with the pups, an unrelated mother will not.
  5. They might offer to deliver a puppy to you or meet you somewhere random – like a car park.
  6. Excuses will be given for why they need to drop the puppy to you – beware of those blaming coronavirus.
  7. They may say that any concerns you raise about the puppy’s health issues are ‘normal for the breed’ – but puppy farming can lead to major and in some cases lethal health issues.
  8. They won’t have paperwork or certificates for puppy vaccinations, microchipping (which is a legal requirement), worming and results for health tests where relevant. Do not accept being told paperwork will be forwarded on at a later date.
  9. They won’t produce a local authority license or any evidence that they are a member of the  Kennel Club assured breeder scheme.

What to look for in a healthy puppy

You can reduce the chances of buying a puppy from a dealer by not only looking for the warning signs, but by visually assessing the puppy’s health and wellbeing.

  • Eyes should be clear and bright, with no sign of dirt or redness.
  • Ears should be clean with no smell or signs of wax inside that could mean ear mites.
  • Nose should be cold and slightly wet, with wide open nostrils.
  • Breathing should be quiet and effortless with no snoring, coughing, grunting or wheezing.
  • Skin should be clean and dry, with no signs of soreness or folds that can become infected.
  • Mouth should be clean, with white teeth and pink healthy gums.
  • Fur that’s shiny and soft with no sign of fleas.
  • Legs should be strong and sturdy, with no limping or difficulty walking.
  • Bottom should be clean and dry under the tail.
  • Ribs should not be visible.
  • A well reared and socialised pup should be inquisitive and should not show any nervous behaviour.