To stamp out puppy farms we need to be able to spot the signs of a puppy farm or third party seller.

Some of the signs of a puppy farm or third party seller:

  1. The puppies cannot be viewed with their mother. Be prepared for all sorts of excuses as to why you cannot see the mother. Some are even quite elaborate! An simple example might be: ‘someone stole the bitch/let the bitch escape’. Often these excuses will pull at the heart strings. Excuses scream ‘liar’ and should be your first cue to leave immediately and look elsewhere for a puppy. You should also consider reporting the vendor using the proper channels.
  2. The puppies look pot-bellied and smell foul. Puppies which have a high worm burden often have a pot-bellied appearance. Also, if their coat or breath smells foul and looks dirty then they have probably been living in squalor and not been fed correctly, even if the area you are looking at looks clean. Remember, the puppies could have been moved from some kind of holding facility to the viewing location.
  3. The vendor is rushing you to make the purchase. Sometimes they will do this in subtle ways such as pretending to be elsewhere. If you were considerably late for your viewing this may be true. If you were on time and have only been there a few minutes consider this a red flag.
  4. The vendor does not care about the welfare of the puppy; it seems like just business as usual. All they want is the sale and for you and the puppy to go.
  5. They may encourage you to meet in a location convenient for you such as your home or half way point. Always meet at the animals’ home. This way you make it more difficult for the seller to conceal the puppy’s true origin and the environment it has been raised in.
  6. The vendor is not prepared to show you any documentation such as microchip details. They may even present you with altered or even fake documentation; again another red flag! The puppy could be stolen. If someone tries to give you fake paperwork report it to the police and don’t forget to check the stolen listings to check if the animal has been listed as stolen.  If it listed as stolen or lost then contact the police and the person who listed the animal as lost/stolen.

We now know some of the signs to identify a potential puppy farm third party seller. Lets look at what to do if you encounter a potential puppy farm or unscrupulous seller.

What to do if you encounter a potential puppy farm or suspicious breeder

Puppy farms thrive on income. Two common reasons people buy puppies from puppy farms are because they either didn’t know or they felt sorry for the puppy so purchased it anyway. Many people who buy a puppy from these sources end up having a puppy that is sick. This can either be at the time of purchase or that becomes sick within a few days of arriving home.

If you purchase a puppy and it becomes sick within a few days of arriving home it does not automatically mean your puppy was from a bad breeder. He or she could for example; have eaten something poisonous in your home. It’s important to seek veterinary advice if your puppy is sick and get their professional advice. Your vet may be able to identify if the puppy had the issue at the time of sale and/or if it was potentially related to the breeder and their breeding practices. A responsible breeder will be more than willing to help you if a puppy becomes sick soon after leaving them. They will want to find out what is wrong and to rectify the situation and ensure the puppy is safe. A puppy farm will not.

Important! Never buy a puppy from a suspected puppy farm or third party seller; no matter how sorry you feel for it! All you will be doing is saving one puppy only to condemn another which will takes its place. You’ll also be directly funding the puppy farming industry, helping to keep it alive…definitely something we don’t want! Instead, here are some proactive actions you can take to help stamp out puppy farms…

Important steps to take to stamp out puppy farms

  1. We have already mentioned it once but it is so important we are saying it again! DO NOT buy from someone suspected of operating an illegal puppy farm or hasn’t bred the puppy themselves – no matter what! If you have the slightest inkling something is no right then walk away!
  2. If you view a puppy and the puppy has documentation with it, then check the documentation thoroughly. Don’t get swept away by the excitement of the moment. Instead, be sure to concentrate on checking the information in front of you. Remain level headed and focused; it could save you and countless dogs of the future from a lot of heartache. Documentation should have the same name and address as the seller and match the animal in front of you. It is important to check that documents are not covered with stuck on address labels. These could be concealing the original breeders name and address. Criminals who steal puppies to order, selling them on to third party sellers have been known to steal or copy documentation then alter it accordingly. Always be on the lookout for documentation that doesn’t look quite right.
  3. If you believe somebody is operating a puppy farm then contact Nature Watch Foundation. They investigate information regarding possible puppy farms and compile their findings ready to given to local law enforcement.  Contact: or 07392 185 373
  4. Contact your local Police department. They will want to know of any illegal activity in their area.
  5. Contact the Kennel Club if the puppy is being sold as KC registered. The Kennel Club take puppy farming and bad breeding practices very seriously indeed. The Kennel Club operate an assured breeder scheme for breeders who adhere to best practices. Puppies sold as KC registered are just registered as a pedigree and are not necessarily been bred by an assured breeder. It does not guarantee the breeder is operating by ensuring best breeding practices or is trustworthy.
  6. If you saw the advert for the puppy in question on the we want to know about it! We can then take appropriate action! Each and every advert has a ‘report ad’ button situated to the bottom right of the ad. Please provide all the necessary details when using this reporting system. This greatly helps our team so we can investigate and take appropriate action. We will not tolerate puppy farming or animal cruelty on our site.
  7. If you saw the ad on another online classified ads site then contact the website owners/admin team to make them aware. They should take the appropriate action and if they refuse then you should contact The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG).
  8. Contact your local council if you have bought a puppy from a suspected third party seller or you believe a suspected a puppy farm is operating in your local area.
  9. If you visit a puppy from another county and suspect the seller to be operating illegally then contact the county council for that area in which you visited. You can find out what county council they belong to by visiting
  10. If you feel a council has licensed an unsuitable premises and has not adhered to the current animal welfare legislation then raise a complaint through their complaints procedure. You can also contact their local Government Ombudsman: or DEFRA:
  11. If you suspect the person is breeding for profit and is unlicensed then contact the relevant council licensing department.
  12. Contact the relevant council licensing department for pet shop licenses if you suspect someone is selling third party puppies without a license.

Some things to look out for in a good breeder

Hopefully, following some or all of the steps in this article we can help to stamp out puppy farming! If you are going to buy a puppy only ever buy from a responsible breeder; even if it means paying a bit more for the puppy! Good breeders health check and microchip their puppies. Adults and the puppies should be in good condition, free of fleas and wormed to date. Always view puppies with their mother; a good breeder will have no problem with this. A good breeder will ensure their puppies are correctly registered where appropriate and will also offer lifetime support. Many even come with 4-5 weeks free insurance. As a responsible pet owner and pet lover; do not willingly and knowingly fund puppy farms, no matter how cute or desperate a puppy may be.

If you are looking to purchase a new puppy, take on an older dog or even find a rescue then start your search by browsing our ads section of the site.