Puppy farms, dealers and pet shops

Puppy farms

Puppy farms are like factory farms where dogs are bred purely for profit.  The dogs are normally bred too often and many are kept in unacceptable conditions resulting in ill health and in poor welfare. The stress will adversely affect the level of immunity of the bitch, even if vaccinated, and so the protection passed on to the puppies may also be reduced.

The puppies are generally removed from their mothers far too early and sent by rail or van to ‘dealers’ or pet shops in the big cities to satisfy the public’s demands.  Many are severely traumatised by the transition, and some do not make it alive. Mixing stressed puppies from different sources is a recipe for producing a disease outbreak. This traumatic early start is likely to have an impact on their early behavioural development, leading to possible longer term problems.

Many ‘puppy farm’ puppies come with complete pedigrees, however, a pedigree in itself, is not necessarily an indication of quality. Vaccination certificates may also not always be what they seem!
The Puppy Farm Study Group (see below) defines puppy farmers as intensive volume breeders who have little regard, or consideration, for the basic needs and care for the dogs concerned.

They state that puppy farmers will:

  • Separate puppies from their mothers too early
  • Ignore guidelines about the maximum frequency of litters
  • Sell puppies at ‘neutral’ locations instead of from their own homes
  • Keep the puppies in poor conditions in order to save money
  • Fail to socialise the puppies
  • Fail to follow recommended breed specific health schemes
  • Fail to ensure their pups are immunised and wormed
  • Sell their breeding stock to pet shops

The clear advice is therefore:  Do not buy a puppy or a dog from these sources, as they will have had the worst possible start in life, and are far more likely to have health and temperament problems. In addition the dogs used in the breeding chain are very likely to be kept in sub-standard welfare conditions that are illegal under the terms of the UK’s Animal Welfare Act (2006).

Puppy Dealers

‘Dealers’ are often simply agents for puppy farms.  They buy puppies and sell them on, advertising them in newspapers and magazines, often masquerading as breeders.  If an advert lists more than one breed of puppy for sale, then the person placing it is probably a dealer (but not always).

The Kennel Club advice is to ask if you can see the mother with the puppies. If an excuse is made about why the mother cannot be seen, be very suspicious and refuse to buy a puppy from them.  Certainly never buy a dog from the back of a van at a motorway service station or from an airport (such as Heathrow) car park, as this is how many dealers operate.

Pet Shops

It is always difficult to generalise as all pet shops are not the same. However, the Kennel Club advice is to avoid buying a puppy or a dog from a pet shop as it is likely to have originated from a puppy farm.  Good breeders are very unlikely to sell their puppies via a pet shop, despite what you may be told.

The Puppy Farming Study Group

The Puppy Farming Study Group comprises of representatives from the Kennel Club, animal welfare organisations across the whole of the UK, Local Government and members of the Government.  The Kennel Club acts as the secretariat of this group and is actively campaigning to end this cruel practice. The Kennel Club website is a good source of information about this trade. To find out more about their campaign to stop puppy farms check out:

To find out what you can do to ensure you do not buy from puppy farms, follow the link to how to avoid problems, or check the Kennel Club website.

Pet Advertising Advisory Group

The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) was created in 2001 to combat the growing concern amongst animal welfare organisations regarding unethical classified advertising relating to pets. There were examples where such adverts were illegally offering dogs banned under the Dangerous Dog Act, endangered animals or advertising establishments which were not fit for the breeding or boarding of animals.

The UK’s Animal Welfare Act (2006) imposes on the owner or keeper of an animal, a legal duty to ensure the welfare of the animal[s] in his/her care. A pet’s welfare needs include a proper diet, somewhere suitable to live, and any need to be housed with (or apart from) other animals. Animals should be kept in a way that allows them, as far as is practicable, to express normal behaviour and be free from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

The PAAG is comprised of the following organisations: Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, The Blue Cross, Cats Protection, The Kennel Club, The Mayhew Animal Home, Wood Green Animal Shelters, DEFRA, Metropolitan Police, Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund and the RSPCA.

The PAAG website )offers downloadable advice booklets, practical tips and fillers for consumers and publishers alike and aims to promote best practice, provide uniformity, transparency and ultimately improve the welfare of the animals being bred, bought and sold via newspapers and online.

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