How to buy a puppy safely

How to buy a puppy safely

The trade in puppies has become a lucrative business, which has seen many people ripped off by puppy scammers. Here’s how to buy a puppy safely. 

Your legal rights when buying a puppy

Your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 when buying a puppy depend on: 

  • Where you bought the puppy from
  • How you paid for your puppy
  • What information the seller provided about your puppy
  • What record you have regarding the purchase of your puppy

This is the same law that covers purchases for household items such as a fridge or a television. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to determine if a puppy is of ‘satisfactory quality’ and’ fit for purpose’ as it is a fridge or a television. This is why many puppy buyers find themselves out of pocket and, sadly, in many cases with a sick or dead puppy. 

How to protect yourself

There are a number of ways to protect yourself and buy a puppy safely: 

  • Arrange to visit a litter of puppies when they are 4-6 weeks old, rather than ready to go. This will stop a puppy seller from trying to persuade you to buy a puppy from them there and then. It will also give you lots of time to properly meet the puppies, get a sense of how they interact with you, the breeder, their mother and siblings, and ask lots of questions before you decide to buy.  
  • Only pay for a puppy once you have seen it with its mother in the place where it was born. If you are asked to put down a deposit, make sure it is refundable. Don’t pay by phone or use Paypal or Western Union. 
  • Use the Puppy Contract when buying a puppy. It is a legally binding contract between you and the seller.

Read this helpful guide by Which? It explains your consumer rights when buying a pet

Common scams when buying a puppy

Rogue puppy traders rely on the ‘cute’ appeal of puppies to lure their buyers. They know how hard it is to resist a puppy and will do whatever it takes to get you to part with your money. Here’s some of the tricks that rogue traders and puppy scammers may use: 

  • You may be told that there is only one puppy left to try to persuade you to pay a deposit.
  • You may be given an excuse about why you can’t see the puppy’s mother.
  • The seller may offer to meet you somewhere, such as a motorway service station, to hand over the puppy.
  • The seller may offer to deliver the puppy to you, but the puppy never arrives.

Watch this short UK government film on how to buy a pet safely and avoid being ‘petfished’. 

You can protect yourself by always seeing a puppy with its mother in the place where it was born. Only pay money for a puppy in person and once you have seen the puppy, and use the Puppy Contract

Warning signs when buying a puppy

You should not buy a puppy from a seller if: 

  • You can’t see the puppy with its mother in the place where it was born.
  • The puppy has a pet passport. This would suggest that the puppy has been bred outside of the UK and possibly on a puppy farm.
  • The puppy appears unwell or lethargic.
  • You have a gut feeling that something just isn’t right.

Look for a puppy that has clear, bright eyes and clean ears that don’t smell. They should have clean teeth and pink gums, soft shiny fur, a clean bottom and no sign of fleas. Avoid puppies with pot-bellies. This is a sign that they have worms. Your perfect puppy will be confident and interested in you and what’s going on around them, not shy and anxious. 

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