How to safely buy a puppy during coronavirus pandemic

Border Terrier puppy outside in the grass

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Just after Christmas David and Alison Green lost their 13-year-old Border Terrier and were desperate to find another. In the New Year, they decided to look for a new puppy and followed the advice from all the large animal charities. This was BEFORE lockdown.

  • They asked friends with Borders it there were any litters available in the area and got recommendations on which litters would have been fully health checked.
  • They identified a local breeder and had a long discussion over the phone with him and subsequently arranged to view the litter.
  • On their visit, David and Alison were shown the puppies’ health records, microchip details and Kennel Club registration documents before going to meet the bitch and all her puppies.
  • They looked at all the puppies and their mother and saw that they were bright and alert, clean and obviously healthy.
  • After handling each puppy and the bitch, they were lucky to be introduced to the puppies’ father and see how calm and sociable he was.
  • They made their choice of puppy and arranged to collect him the following week, giving them time to prepare for their new arrival.
  • On collection, David and Alison were given Dazzle’s Kennel Club registration papers, his vaccination and worming records, microchip documents and details of his insurance.
Happy Border Terrier Puppy

Obviously, this is a textbook case of buying a puppy sensibly from a reputable breeder, but what about now we are IN lockdown? Prospective puppy owners beware!!!! The current social distancing regulations mean that it is near impossible to go and see a litter of puppies, resulting in many people resorting to the internet and these unsuspecting purchasers will be at the mercy of unscrupulous dealers.

Puppy dealers very often acquire puppies from puppy farms, both in the UK and across Europe, and in their adverts, claim that they have bred the puppies and will deliver the puppy as and when required. The puppies and the breeding dogs in puppy farms are kept in disgusting conditions and frequently suffer from long term health and behaviour problems, leaving the new owner with a lifetime of vet bills and heartache.

How to spot a puppy dealer advert.

  • Check social media, general online selling platforms and specific pet selling platforms to see if the same advert appears.
  • Look to see if the same phone number is used to advertise several litters or more than one breed of puppy.
  • Photos may have been copied from other sites. Right click on the image and search Google.
  • Ask to see a scan of any Kennel Club papers if the dealer claims the puppy is KC registered.
  • Confirm the age of the puppy. A puppy should be at least six weeks old before being vaccinated.
  • Can they provide a video of the puppies with their mother? If not, why?

If in doubt, then do not buy a puppy!

In addition to the above, there is another criminal issue for potential buyers to be wary of. Many people posting adverts do not have any puppies to sell but will ask prospective purchasers to pay a deposit for a puppy to secure the purchase. Using the coronavirus outbreak, they capitalise on the fact that people cannot see the litter first nor come and pick the puppy up. Following the initial payment, more payments may be requested to cover things like vaccinations, worming and delivery.

After payments have been made the seller then deletes their post and cannot be contacted. This is a matter of fraud and is something which should be reported to the police.

Please WAIT until AFTER lockdown before considering getting a puppy. Take time to prepare, research carefully and do not rush into any impulse purchase. There will be plenty of puppies and lovely rescue dogs waiting for a home once life returns to normal. Do not line the pockets of dealers or contribute to the terrible trade from puppy farms.

Do you need further advice

If you need any further advice, please contact the Breakthrough Helpline Team on our freephone number 0808 168 3344 or by email


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