How to avoid buying an illegally imported puppy

“Illegal puppy imports ‘more than treble’ in three years” – BBC

Hundreds of puppies are being illegally imported to the UK to supply the increasing demand for puppies.  The problem is growing and is becoming more lucrative than the drugs trade.

Brindle puppy lying on floorPuppies arriving in the UK illegally bring huge risk, both to themselves and to the general population.  They are raised in poor conditions, travel long hours in cramped, dirty conditions and are at high risk of diseases such as parvovirus, distemper and rabies.  These puppies are likely to need expensive veterinary treatment, may die, or be seized by the authorities and either quarantined for 6 months at their new owner’s expense or euthanased.

Illegal importers are becoming ever more cunning, buying houses and furnishing them to make it look as though the puppies have been raised in a family home.  They may also have an adult dog of the same breed to make it seem as though the puppies are with their mother, although this dog will not be related to the puppies in any way.



German Shepherd feeding puppiesThere are some easy ways to ensure that you do not fall into the trap of buying one of these puppies.

  • Don’t buy a puppy from an online or newspaper advertisement – if you want a pedigree puppy, get breeder recommendations from the breed club or kennel club.  Rescue centres are a great way to get a dog of any age.
  • Never take a puppy home on the day you meet it – if the breeder is pressurising you into making a decision there and then, walk away.  They clearly do not have the best interests of the puppy at heart.  Try to see your puppy around 4-6 weeks of age and then take him home from 8 weeks of age.
  • Always see a puppy with it’s mother – look for indications that the adult dog present is the mother.  Her teats should be well developed, and she should be interacting well with the puppies.
  • Check the paperwork provided – if you are buying a pedigree puppy, make sure that the pedigree paperwork is genuine.  Pedigree puppies should be registered with the Kennel Club and have genuine paperwork provided by them.  All puppies should be microchipped before being rehomed.  If your puppy is sold with a vaccination certificate, check that it is from the United Kingdom.  Puppies cannot be legally imported from any other country before the age of 15 weeks.
  • Check the puppies over – if the puppies seem very nervous, or very quiet they may be poorly socialised or unwell.  Happy, healthy puppies should be lively, playful and wanting to interact with you and their mother.  They should have clean bottoms, eyes and ears.  If there is any evidence of diarrhoea, you should walk away.
  • If in doubt, walk away – all puppies are very cute and it is very hard to walk away, particularly if their future looks uncertain.  However, it is important to remember that if you hand any money over to an unscrupulous breeder, you are not ‘rescuing a puppy’, you are actually supporting this cruel and illegal trade.

By following these simple steps, you will give yourself the best chance of taking home a legal, healthy, puppy.


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