New Consumer Direct figures reveal the number of complaints relating to animal and pet purchases have almost doubled in two years. In 2006 the Government watchdog received 2,793 complaints by 2008 this had risen to 4,627.


A puppy's welfare is compromised when sold from a pet shop.


If you have purchased a puppy that has become sick or died shortly after purchase please contact


Other useful links to contact:

It is also important to contact the local Council Environmental Health Department in the area that the puppy was purchased.

Licensed Pet Shops buying in puppies to resell 


Important points that you should know and think about before purchasing a puppy from a pet shop:

If you purchase a puppy from a pet shop you will not be able to see the puppy with its mother and siblings.

You will not be able to view the premises where the puppy was bred. This is important because all pet shops purchase their puppies from puppy farms/commercial breeders and sometimes back yard breeders.

 The pet shop will only have basic details of the breeder (name and address only), they will not have knowledge of the breeding lines used, or hereditary/genetic diseases known in the parentage of the puppy you are thinking of buying.

A pet shop will not give you the after care advice that you would expect from a responsible breeder.

Most pet shop puppies are not socialized or used to household noises.

The parents of the puppy are unlikely to have taken part in available health screening tests for hereditary conditions, for example eyes and hips. 

The pet shop will not be interested in whether you are making the best choice of breed for your domestic circumstances.

The puppy may not have a valid veterinary certificate. Check that the certificate has the veterinary name, address and vaccination batch number (usually a small sticky label) and is signed by a vet.

The puppies paperwork, such as registration document and its pedigree may not be authentic.

Pet shops encourage impulse purchase by offering payment by credit cards.  This is not advisable, as a puppy is a lifetime commitment,  not something to buy on a whim.

Too many adolescent dogs are handed into rescue or offered for re-sale by owners that have purchased a puppy on impulse and find after a few months the novelty has worn off, or the puppy was found to be the wrong breed for their domestic circumstances and they can no longer cope.    

Puppies are cute but expensive to look after, they grow up, they can live to 9 to 14 years and beyond, dependent upon breed.  They need your patience, your time and your commitment. 

Remember, many puppies from pet shops become sick soon after purchase.  Can you afford the veterinary costs?  

These are just some reasons why it is inadvisable to purchase a puppy from a pet shop.  

If you are still not convinced then please inspect the puppy for the following:

Does the puppy have a clean, shiny coat, or is the coat dirty, patchy and dull? Check for fleas, lice and mange. 

Does the puppy have a very fat tummy? If so it may have worms.

Does the puppy have traces of faeces on its rear end? This could be a sign of dirrahoea, the start of gastro enteritis or parvo virus.

Does the puppy have runny eyes or appears lethargic? Does it look shy, hiding in a corner? It may be unwell or harbouring a disease. 

If you are suspicious of any of these circumstances, please advise the seller and contact the Council's Licensing department. A shop should not be selling sick puppies. 

Is the puppy weaned?  The puppy should be not less than eight weeks of age when offered for sale.

Is the puppy wearing a collar and tag with the name of the breeder or details of the breeder clearly displayed nearby? All pet shops selling puppies from licensed breeders must have details of the breeder on the collar tag or displayed near the puppies pen, this is part of the pet shop licensing conditions.

A pet shop is not an ideal place to purchase a puppy but if after checking the above you still feel you are making the best choice, remember, before leaving the premises with your chosen puppy, that you have a signed receipt from the seller with a VAT registration number. The receipt is proof of purchase should your puppy become ill.  

If a puppy offered for sale looks unwell:

If you are not happy with the information you are given by the seller or the condition that the puppy is being sold in then walk away and report your experience to the local Council Environmental Health Department and the RSPCA.  

As hard as it is, please do not feel sorry for the puppy by buying it and thinking you are rescuing it,  you are not, all you are doing is making a space for another puppy to take its place. Every puppy purchased from a pet shop is subjecting more and more breeding bitches to a life of deprivation in disused barns, agriculture buildings, pig- stys and sheep pens, even large container trailers.  Rarely breeders that supply pet shops have  purpose built kennels. 

See link  Puppy Farming    

The more puppies sold from a pet shop the more misery the breeding bitches endure, an endless life of abuse and misery. 

Many breeding bitches live their life in near darkness, often a life of loneliness, isolation and deprivation or the reverse, overcrowding, in small pens or crates with inadequate room to move. Some have no excercise area or even a small outside run, they are made to remain in a confined area, not for a day, week or month but a lifetime. They are forced to suffer this, to allow to you buy their offspring, their puppies. Do not think of comfort for breeding bitches, such as a comfortable warm bed, blanket, good food, veterinary care and regular excercise. That is far from the life of the majority of breeding bitches, for most it is a barren concrete cell, often with no bed but a hard concrete floor. Excercise and freedom is non existant, fed just once a day, human contact at feeding time only, then silence, this is where your puppy is born.  Not in a pupose built heated kennel or a warm room, a cosy place with its mother and littermates to snuggle up to. 

Even Harrods* have bought puppies from a breeder whose puppies were bred in a concrete cell. If Harrods (London) a large well known departmental store will sell puppies from a  puppy farmer what hope is there for other retail outlets?        

 *Harrods no longer purchase puppies from this puppy farmer after the media expose but countless others still do.

No sooner had this puppy farmer (who was not licensed as a commercial dog breeder) been exposed by the media than he applied for a dog breeders licence.  This was immediately granted by Ceredigion County Council, Wales. Were any improvements or adaptions made to the living conditions of the breeding bitches prior to the granting of a licence to breed dogs from these premises?  Highly unlikely.

If you really want to help to stop the suffering, do not buy puppies from pet shops.      

Puppies that have travelled from a breeding establishment to dealer, to pet shop, at a very young age are known to suffer from severe stress. This, together with the mixing of litters, lack of proper veterinary care at some breeding establishments can mean that puppies sometimes harbour disease.  The most likely time this becomes prevalent is after purchase, when the puppy arrives in their new home.

Pedigrees: A pedigree is a history of a puppy's parentage going back several generations. If the breeder's name and address is on the pedigree together with a KC registration number under the name of the dam and sire, this can be checked by contacting the Kennel Club for authenticity.  The same applies if the puppy is bred in Ireland and registered with  the Irish Kennel Club.

It is against the  Kennel Club code of ethics for breeders to sell to third parties (such as dealers and pet shops) but many still do and the Kennel Club fails to acknowledge this fact and continues to take registrations from breeders that indulge in this practice. 

If the puppy is sold with a pedigree and a registration document issued by an alternative registration company (other than the KC or IKC), the parentage of the puppy cannot be checked and confirmed for accuracy. Whilst the puppy will be given a name and those of previous generations too, it does not mean the parents or grandparents are the actual blood relations of the puppy you are purchasing. They are the  names given to the company by the breeder/owner or chosen by the company to enter on the paperwork you are given.  You are in effect paying a high price for a piece of paper with names written on it, it has little relevence or actual meaning.

Only the Kennel Club keeps records and these can be viewed by the general public either by visiting the Kennel Club or by purchasing a Kennel Club record supplement produced each quarter.  This will give details of all litters registered with them, the names of the breeder, dam, sire and number of litters registered by the KC for that bitch and any health screening results undertaken.

Alternative registration companies and the KC charge the breeder/owner  when they register a litter of puppies. The difference being, that if the puppy is registered with the KC the purchaser can check that the parentage written on the documentation is correct by contacting the KC. But an alternative registration company does not produce records that are available for the public to view and verify the parentage of a puppy.

Vet checked:  Some pet shops say in their advertisements that the puppies they sell are vet checked, that may be the case but it does not prevent puppies being sold and becoming ill soon after purchase, or suffering from a hereditary disease. The vet can only check the puppy 'as seen'.  The vet will have no knowledge of where or how the puppy was bred and would not have seen the parents at any stage prior to the birth of the puppy or directly after.  

Pet Insurance:  Many pet shops will offer pet insurance, offered by insurance companies to cover the first six weeks of the puppy's life.  Some pet shops may insist that you bring the puppy back to their premises to be treated by their vet if it has become sick during this period of time.  Some customers have felt this to be impractical, especially if they have travelled some distance to purchase the puppy who is now too sick to cope with a return journey back to the shop.

A puppy can become sick very quickly and may need immediate veterinary treatment, a pet shop is not open 24 hours a day with a vet available to treat a sick animal.

It does not take away your consumer rights if you do not use the shop's chosen vet but use a vet of your choice instead.

Vaccination:  Some pet shops offer puppies for sale with vaccination.  It is advisable for puppies sold in pet shops to be covered by a primary vaccine before the puppy leaves the breeding establishment.  Some are not and the puppy is not vaccinated until it arrives at the place of sale. The puppy by this stage is highly stressed and if the vaccine is not kept  at the correct temperature,  or not administered correctly this could cause an adverse reaction.  Only a vet  should administer the vaccine and sign the paperwork with the practice name on the certificate. The  batch number of the vaccine should be clearly written (sticky pad from vaccine phial) on the vaccination certificate. This can then be checked for accuracy should the puppy become sick, if a faulty vaccine is suspected or information given on certificate is incorrect.

Puppy Alert is aware that purchasers of puppies are some times  given very dubious vaccination certificates.  Under these circumstances the puppy may or may not have been vaccinated. The puppy may have been vaccinated by a lay person not authorised to acquire or to use vaccines.  Vaccines are strictly regulated but it is known sometimes to get into the wrong hands. In Eire a vaccine can be legally purchased over the counter of a pharmacist but it is illegal to bring it into the UK and use it. Vaccines can also be seen advertised  over the Internet.  A vaccine is a POM, a prescription only medicine, if anyone is found to be administering, purchasing or selling a vaccine without authorisation they can be dealt with very strictly by the authority concerned (VMD, Veterinary Medical Directorate).

Summary:  Mass produced  puppies are at risk and very vulnerable, they are often bred irresponsibly when sold from a third party. The stress of travelling from breeding establishment, dealer  to pet shop, mixing of litters,  vaccination, a new home, often causes the vulnerable puppy to become suddenly quite unwell. Within a few hours of purchase the puppy may become very sick,  dehydrated and need urgent veterinary care if it is to survive. A puppy with an already weakened immune system can harbour a disease that only becomes prevalent after the puppy arrives in its new home. Even with hospitalization and the very best of veterinary care some puppies are just too sick and weak to survive. 

It is important if you have purchased a puppy and it becomes ill to treat it as urgent, particulary if it has diarrhoea and is vomiting.  Puppies dehydrate very quickly, it needs immediate veterinary treatment, do not wait 12 or 24 hours, your puppy may not survive. Call a 24 hour vet if your puppy becomes ill during the night.  Delay can kill a vulnerable puppy very quickly, even more so if they have been purchased from a pet shop.   

It is very traumatic to purchase a puppy costing hundreds of pounds to find that within 48 hours, a purchaser can be left without a puppy and very large unexpected veterinary bill. It is no consulation to be offered another puppy or a re-inbursement of costs. The grief of losing a puppy within a few days or even months is for most purchasers very difficult to come to terms with.

Puppies are sentient beings and should not be allowed to be sold from a pet shop.  It causes the puppies welfare to be compromised.

The trader will have little or no concern for the loss of your puppy or your grief. Puppies sold from pet shops are acquired cheaply from undesirable sources and sold to you with  a very high mark up.  Profit for the seller, could mean heartache for you if it all goes wrong. 

You could do far better by selecting a puppy from a reputable breeder or considering adopting a puppy or dog from a reputable rescue. 

A reputable rescue will offer you a dog for a donation that has been spayed or neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, health checked and tested by an animal behaviourist for temperament problems before offered for adoption.  You will be asked many questions and you will be home checked but you will be given ongoing advice and help if needed. 

Surely it must be kinder and more satisfactory to offer an unwanted dog a home than to line the pockets of unscrupulous puppy farmers and pet shops. 

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