Advice on Buying a Puppy

Advice on Buying a Puppy

Purchasing puppies and dogs through marketplaces online, like, is popular and great way to find the pet of your dreams. It's a perfectly legitimate, legal and safe thing to do, if carried out in accordance with the law. Below, we offer our advice and recommendations for buying your first puppy. keeps up our end of the bargain, and to avoid trouble, we would recommend that you do too, by following our puppy buying checklist. So, we provide our advice on purchasing a puppy below, and doing it like this will lead to better outcomes for you and your new arrival. N.B. is not a breeder of puppies or have any affiliation with the adverts on our site, other than the fact that we offer a completely free marketplace service.


  1. Understand the law. Take a read of Animal Welfare Act 2018. We provide a summary below. There are some steps that you need to take to make sure you, as the purchaser, are not breaking the law.

  2. Make sure you are ready for a dog. Puppies and dogs can be expensive to keep and require lots of time. Ask yourself if your house is big enough, you can meet the financial implications and if you have time to exercise and keep the dog entertained. All of these will happen for roughly the next 12 years.

  3. Always go to the premises of the breeder. You should take a good look around the location, and see the puppy with its mother. We suggest you should feel 100% certain, with proof, of the location of birth and conditions of the premises of your breeder.

  4. Ask to see all relevant documentation around the puppy. Vet records, passports (if imported), etc. If your breeder has mentioned any health check or Kennel Club registration, ask to see these documents

  5. Ask all of the questions listed below.

  6. Get a contract of sale written up. This needs to be completed at the breeders’ premises with the sale happening here too. This is a UK law, and means the purchaser can break the law if they agree to receive a puppy without completing the sale at the premises of the breeder.

  7. Check for a licence. Whilst it is still legal in many circumstances to sell puppies without a licence, if your breeder does not have a licence you should check why not, and that it is still in accordance with the law. We give some advice below.

  8. Never send deposits before seeing the puppy.

  9. If anything makes you feel uneasy, consult a vet, or do not purchase.


What Should I Ask the Puppy Breeder?

By law, your breeder will disclose information from veterinary care to feeding, but you are also responsible for information gathering. This is not an exhaustive list but will get you started:

  1. Could I meet the litter’s parents? At a minimum, it's a good idea to view the puppies’ mother.

  2. How have you been socialising the puppies so far?

  3. Can I ask if the parents of the puppies are certified or health checked? This question will help specifically with matters concerning potentially inherited health problems from the parents such as hip conditions.

  4. How heavy are the parents of the puppies? This question could help you gauge just how big the puppy or puppies could grow to.

  5. What vaccines has the puppy had? What is its veterinary record?

  6. Have any of the puppies in this litter become ill up until now?

  7. Can you provide me with any recommendations from previous customers? A good way to establish the integrity and reputation of the breeder.

  8. What are you currently feeding the puppies?

  9. Do you offer a guarantee with the sale of the puppies? If so, it is a good idea to have a contract drawn up if one does not exist already and get it witnessed at singing.

  10. Do you belong to a dog breeding club?

  11. Where was this puppy born and kept until now? As mentioned previously, the sale should be complete at that premises.

Here are some things to be thinking about when you arrive at the premises of the breeder:

  1. Are there other puppies from other litters or breeds?

  2. Is the environment clean and does not smell of smoke?

  3. Is the breeder asking questions about you to ensure their puppies are going to a good home? This is part of their responsibility. If the breeder does not show an interest in you, this should be cause for concern.

  4. Apply common sense and do not be rushed into buying even if they do offer a “special offer”.


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. We will never exchange payment through our platform for the sale of puppies, after you have seen the puppy for sale, it’s between you (purchaser) and the breeder (seller).

  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.

We endeavour to catch scams, puppy farms or other illicit practices, however, some are still able to get through the net. Therefore, we have prepared the checklist above that we suggest you cover off before going ahead with purchasing a new puppy.

Report anything you see on our site HERE that makes you feel uneasy.

The Law

Due to high numbers of illegally imported puppies, along with farmed puppies in poor conditions, the government passed into law the Animal Welfare Act 2018. This legislation covers all forms of activities involving animals, to ensure the necessary care is taken with regard to their welfare. Not all breeders require a licence, but many reputable breeders will have licences. The section most important to become familiar with when looking for puppies for sale is Schedule 3: selling animals as pets.

There are many stipulations in this legislation including conditions of housing and what information your breeder is required to provide. But, here are the highlights:

  1. 'In the business of pets' is a term used to determine a requirement for a licence number. This is a slightly grey area, however, is widely considered to mean breeding activities which result in profit for the breeder. This is different to, for example, a one-off litter given birth to, with proceeds of the activity covering the costs of the litter and not being a supporting income for the breeder.

  2. You need to have a licence, regardless if you are in the business or not, if you breed more than 3 litters in 12 months.

  3. No puppy under 8 weeks old can be sold.

  4. All animals for sale must be in good health.

  5. The sale of a dog must be completed in the presence of the purchaser on the premises. (this ensures the conditions of breeding premises has been viewed by the purchaser).

If you are worried your breeder is breaking any of these fundamental laws, or any others mentioned in the Animal Welfare Act 2018 you should immediately report them to the police and local council.

'Rehoming Dogs is The Only Safe Way to Get a Dog'

This is, fortunately, completely un-true and can be a very harmful statement to the 99% of breeders who behave fantastically. The vast majority of breeders are loving people who care deeply for their craft of breeding puppies, and treat all their animals with the utmost respect.

Yes, rehoming dogs can be a wonderful thing but is no better or safer than new-born puppies sourced in the correct and lawful way. To add to this, rescue organisations often have onerous stipulations around children in the home, age of adopter and other things which mean sometimes adoption is not possible. Make sure you follow our advice above and become familiar with the law, purchase from a reputable and responsible breeder and you will have a pleasant, safe and happy experience.  

Further Advice

You can visit the following sources for more information on buying puppies and dogs. Dog Advisory CouncilKennel Club, the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA. Another avenue for any advice is your vet.

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