How to avoid buying from puppy farms

Rebecca Elliott / 15 May 2019

Unfortunately puppies are all too often seen as a quick way to make some money, with some breeds going for hundreds of pounds, leading to them being bred on a massive scale. Find out how to avoid buying from a puppy farm.



Care must be taken when buying a puppy. Look for a reputable breeder with the welfare of the dogs their primary concern, and avoid backyard breeders and puppy farms which are driven only by profit. These puppy farms will be selling through online listings, local newspapers and adverts in shop windows.

Why avoid puppy farms?

Dogs from puppy farms are bred in horrific conditions, often just dark, dirty sheds or caravans. They are not treated like a member of the family and there is no interest in breeding for their health, meaning dogs can often end up with a lot of unforseen health conditions. They are often taken from their mothers much too early which can cause developmental and social problems later in life. The bitches used don't have any love or affection and spend most of their life being forced to give birth to litter after litter, to the detriment of her own health. The lucky breeding bitches will get dumped once they are no longer of use, the unlucky will have their lives cut short. Find out how one such breeding bitch named Lucy has gone on to change the law on buying and selling puppies and kittens with the introduction of Lucy's Law.

Puppy farm warning signs

The seller has a large amount of dogs for sale

If you notice a seller keeps advertising new litters of dogs, often of different breeds, it is a clear indication of a large-scale breeding programme.

Dogs are immediately available

Good breeders have often sold their litters in advance so it’s very unlikely you will find the breed you want available immediately. This would be a sign that there is a high turnover of dogs and that they are sourcing their puppies from a farm, possibly even bringing them in from abroad.

Unwillingness to meet at the puppy’s home

Many puppy dealers will suggest meeting at a halfway point in a public space but you should always travel to see the puppy in its home. Even so, backyard breeders are finding a ways around this, such as renting AirBnB properties to sell puppies from.

Other dogs are not present when you meet the puppy

You should meet the puppy with its mother and littermates in a home environment.

Lack of knowledge

Many puppy farms breed multiple breeds and are not knowledgeable about the dogs they are selling. Hopefully you’ve already done your research on the breed you are buying so don’t be afraid to ask questions specific to that breed.

The seller does not take an interest in your circumstances

A responsible breeder will want to know that their dogs are going to a good home and will be vetting you as much as you are vetting them.

The mother dog is not bonded with her owner

If you notice that the puppy’s mother does not respond to her name and is not affectionate with her owner it may be that she is not a looked after family pet and she might have been brought into the house to give the illusion of being a loved family pet.

The puppy is much too young

Puppies should never be separated from their mothers before eight weeks old to allow proper socialisation. Some unscrupulous breeders will try and tell you that because the puppy is weaned it is ready to be rehomed – don’t be fooled.

Don’t get tricked by paperwork

Many puppy farms will have ‘papers’ but this does not guarantee the health of the puppies.

A focus on money

Whether it’s stressing the importance of a large cash deposit, insisting on cash payment or their only requirement being that you can pay for the dog, a focus on money is a huge red flag.


Finding a reputable breeder

Kennel Club Assured Breeders

The Kennel Club has a list of accredited breeders under the Assured Breeder Scheme. This is in place to ensure puppies have the best chance of leading a healthy, happy life and that parent dogs are treated well.

Even when buying from an accredited breeder always look out for warning signs and know how to spot a good breeder.

A reputable breeder will…

  • Ask questions about you and your home
  • Allow you to see the puppy’s mother and littermates
  • Be knowledgeable about their specific breed
  • Always be willing to take a dog back if things don’t work out
  • Offer training tips and diet recommendations
  • Be open to discussing any genetic issues that dog may have
  • Probably have a waiting list
Try 12 issues of Saga Magazine for just £12

Subscribe today for just £12 for 12 issues...





The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.