According to research from the Kennel Club, one in four puppy buyers spend less than two hours to decide on their puppy, with thousands then being duped by rogue breeders and online scams

Instances of scams and rip-off merchants illegally selling puppies have sky-rocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, the Kennel Club has warned, as thousands make a quick decision to get a new four-legged friend – and miss the key red flags.

The welfare organisation has reported a 168 per cent increase in people searching for puppies via its ‘Find a Puppy’ tool since the beginning of lockdown (23rd March) until the end of May, compared to the same period in 2019. May saw the biggest increase – 237 per cent – as many people continued to work from home.

With so many looking for a coronavirus companion, even as the lockdown eases, the Kennel Club is concerned that more and more prospective owners aren’t doing their homework – meaning they are left completely vulnerable to being duped by rogue breeders and online scams.

According to the organisation’s research, one in three puppy buyers admit they are clueless about how to find a reputable source for their puppy and the scams that should ring alarm bells, while almost a third (30 per cent) say they could have bought from a puppy farm after not spending enough time doing their research.

Those who did little research – less than an hour – missed key red flags:

  • 44% didn’t see pup interacting with mum
  • 90% weren’t asked any questions by the breeder about their suitability for dog ownership
  • 83% didn’t see relevant health tests for the puppy’s parents

The Kennel Club is warning puppy buyers about making quick or superficial decisions about both the dog they choose and the source they buy it from, and the increasing amount of irresponsible breeders profiting from this.

“We are worried about this rather terrifying picture of a nation of people who are careless and impulsive when it comes to choosing where and how to buy a dog,” commented Bill Lambert, Head of Health and Welfare at the Kennel Club.

“The result is puppies with all manner of health and behavioural problems being sold via the internet or social media to people who don’t know the true background of the pups and who pay the price in vet bills and heartache, as they watch their beloved pet suffer.

“This situation has certainly increased demand for puppies – and we are worried about this alongside the massive gap in consumer knowledge. We need to help people understand what a good dog breeder looks like, and encourage them to take their time, and wait if necessary, so they bring home a happy and healthy puppy which has been brought up with love and care. At the very least we urge people to make themselves aware of the scams and tricks of the trade, so that they can spot the exploitative people who are putting puppy welfare at risk and simply cashing in on demand.”

Jenny Campbell, a Kennel Club Assured Breeder from Suffolk, said: “At the moment, there does seem to be more people looking for a puppy and I imagine many dedicated, responsible breeders will have long waiting lists. It’s worth the wait though for a happy, healthy new best friend, and you should expect to be screened as part of the process so the breeder knows you’re suitable for the pup and understand the commitment of a dog – especially in this current situation.”

The Kennel Club has compiled top tips for spotting a rogue breeder, as well as advice on how to get a puppy responsibly, which is available at


Melanie Thomas, Chairperson

Melanie Thomas, Chairperson

I live in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex with 2 Bolognese and I show one of my dogs.