How to Buy a Puppy

How to Buy a Puppy

Before You do Anything

Decide if you're ready for a puppy. A puppy is a huge time and monetary commitment for the next 15 years. Are you in the right place to make such a big move?

Watch the RSPCA video. Are you Puppy Smart?

Step by Step How to Buy a Puppy

To use our website responsibly, you must follow these steps. already performs a lot of these scam/fraud checks but you can never be too careful.

The power is in the buyer's hand to rid the world of poor breeding practices.

Buying a puppy is not an exact science. It is all about information collecting and dealing with the risks when you find potential red flags.

1. Before Contacting the Seller:

a. Make sure the puppies are over 8 weeks old. It is illegal to separate the puppies and mother under 8 weeks old
b. Search the seller online. Put the phone number and description into a search engine to see if the details can be found on a number of puppy adverts. If multiple adverts are found on different sites this could be a red flag.  
c. Check for health tests/ vaccinations/ socialisation. Whilst this is not a legal requirement, all reputable breeders will get breed-relevant health tests for the parents or one of the parents at the least. The puppies also should leave vaccinated. On, all of our adverts are marked to confirm this. If you decide to proceed regardless, make sure you are comfortable with the risks. NOTE 'Vet checked' does not mean 'health tested'. Health tests are very specific genetic disease checks that 'vet checked' does not cover. You can use the kennel club search to confirm this if the puppies are KC registered. If not you should receive a copy of the health test results from the organisation that undertook them. To learn more about which health tests are needed for the breed you are interested in, we suggest consulting the breed club to learn more. It is our strong recommendation that for most breeds you search a dog with health tested parents.
d. Be careful of pet passports. Puppies with pet passports are often imported. Whilst there is nothing illegal with a properly imported puppy. Puppies should be 15 weeks old to travel from the EU and some other countries, or even older in some cases. Proceed with caution when importing.  

2. When you contact the seller:

WARNING: checks the phone number on each of our breeder's accounts against a fraud database. Never start messaging a phone number that doesn't match the official one on the breeder's account. Never use email because is unable to provide support and/or ban breeders who act irresponsibly on our messaging system but not on 3rd party systems. Excuses such as 'it is easier for me to email' or 'my phone is broken' could be potential red flags.

a. Make sure you ring the seller first, ideally on WhatsApp video to see the litter and mother. Once you’re comfortable to proceed, make sure to get the seller on the phone. If they will not provide a mobile this can represent a problem. Ensure this number matches the official number on the breeder's account and on the listing. If they have asked you to message a different number for any reason you should be careful and report to If a breeder wants to avoid the phone this could be a red flag
b. The seller should never be 'pushing' you. Imagine what it's like to deal with a car salesman. You should never feel that buying a puppy. A responsible breeder should be checking your eligibility and suitability as much as you check theirs. The breeder must ask you questions to check your background and if they are not, but instead feel like they are 'selling to you', this should be a warning sign. 
c. Ask if they bred the puppy themselves. The introduction of Lucy’s Law now means that it is illegal for people to sell puppies and unless they have bred them.  
d. Ask about medical history. Make sure you ask about the medical history the puppy will have before leaving. Ask the following: Which vaccinations has the animal had? Which vaccines or boosters are still required, and when are they needed? Has the animal been neutered? Does the animal or its parents have any health issues? Ensure the puppy has a microchip as this is a requirement for the owner to have done before 8 weeks.
e. Ask about behaviour and environment. Ask where about the environment and socialisation of the puppy. Poor quality breeders often won’t socialise animals, which can lead to behavioural issues for your new pet.
f. WARNING: There is never a reason that a breeder needs to see a copy of your ID and so if you are asked please decline and report to

3. Placing a deposit

Once you have discussed some of the specifics with the breeder, you may be encouraged to place a deposit to reserve your puppy.

Using the deposit scheme in partnership with Trustap, you can do that completely safely. Just look for the 'place a deposit' button on the page of the listing, or in the messages with the breeder.

Above: Example of deposit button

Using the deposit scheme our trusted partner, Trustap, will securely hold your deposit until both you and the breeder are happy that you have seen the puppy and are happy to release the funds. For your safety, you should never send deposits in any other way.

You can read more here.

4. When you visit the puppy for the first time:

a. Don't skip this. It is a requirement of Lucys Law to see the mother and puppies at the premises of the breeder. We also recommend using a traceable payment method and getting a receipt for any money paid.
b. Only agree to meet at the breeders premises. It is illegal to complete the sale anywhere else. Never agree to meeting in a park, or meeting half way, and never agree to a puppy courier. No matter how good or kind it seems. These are all red flags and you should back out. We would even recommend getting proof of address from the seller as a common scam of importers is meeting new puppies in an AirBnb.
c. Really watch the way the mother interacts. Sometimes puppy importers will use a mother which is just a random bitch. Take a look, does the mother seem to be caring for the pups as her own? The breeder will never offer you to see the puppy without mother if they are reputable.
d. Ask to see the copy of medical records. Before 8 weeks, the puppies need to get microchipped and registered officially, you should ask to see records of these. Other important records to see are vaccination schedules and worm and flea treatments.  A good breeder will share these with you before sale. Don't accept anything less.
e. Is it a pedigree? For puppies being claimed as pedigree, you should ask for the registration certificate of the litter, to see the parents certificates also and also do a quick search on the kennel club site:
f. Discuss the puppy contract. Most responsible breeders will sign a puppy contract, which is endorsed by the AWF and RSPCA. This covers key terms like ownership, health profile of the puppies, returns due to ill health etc and we highly recommend this.
g. Release deposit. Once you are happy with the above, now you can release the deposit to the breeder. At this time you can agree the next steps such as when you can collect the puppy.

5. Next steps:

a. Get ready to bring your puppy home. There are a few things to be considered here such as puppy proofing your home, removing things you don't want to be chewed or messed on, perhaps installing puppy and dog gates, finding a bed or crate for the dog to have their area, buying a bowl, choosing a vet, choosing pet insurance.
b. Upon transferring the remaining funds to the breeder, you will need to ensure the microchip is transferred into your name
c. Collect your puppy and bring them home

The Promise

  1. We (humans, not robots) pre-check all listings that are submitted to our site. We check listings versus a fraud database, cross-check against other listings on similar websites, and from time to time request identity checks.

  2. We will remove adverts and ban breeders who are breaking the law and/or presenting ‘scam’ listings. These cases are also reported to Action Fraud.

  3. The deposit scheme with our partner Trustap is the safest way to handle your deposits.

  4. has taken all steps under our control (with regard to the advertisement of pets) lawfully, and each breeder has the opportunity to display their adverts in accordance with the law.

Further Resources

A number of brilliant campaigns have been created in the UK recently which recommend studying:

  1. Defra Petfished Campaign- CLICK HERE

  2. RSPCA Get Puppy Smart- CLICK HERE

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