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How to Spot Illegal Puppy Farming

While buying a gundog puppy is an exciting process, many young dogs up for sale may not have come from a responsible breeder but instead, a puppy farm where illegal breeding practices take place. As well as breaking the law by implementing forced breeding methods, the dogs offered by puppy farmers are more likely to become ill or develop issues with both their behaviour and health once they reach adulthood. To ensure you are purchasing a healthy and happy gundog from a responsible breeder, we have provided a brief guide on how to spot illegal puppy farming:

Two young black and brown puppies jumping up behind a wooden gate.

What is a Puppy Farm? 

Unlike reputable dog breeding, a puppy farm is where dogs are bred regularly for the sole purpose of selling puppies. Instead of being loved and cared for as any pet should be, the dogs are usually housed in poor conditions with their owners having little regard for their health or wellbeing. Rather than breeding one or two of different dog breeds on a one-off or reasonable basis, puppy farms offer a wide range of breeds at all times, increasing the chance of illness for both the mothers and the puppies. 

How to Spot a Puppy Farm

Most puppy farmers are experts at concealing the truth about where their puppies were bred and will go to severe lengths to make themselves seem like reputable dog breeders. Consequently, it is often difficult to know when you are buying from an unlawful breeder. However, while puppy farms are not always obvious, there are some tell-tale signs you can look out for throughout the purchasing process that may indicate the breeder’s true identity:

Does the Seller Offer More than One Breed?

Puppy farmers can sometimes refer to more than one breed in their adverts, so this is something to look out for. A good way to check this is to search for different adverts on several platforms from the same breeder; if they are advertising numerous litters of different breeds all at once, they are likely to be a puppy farmer. 

Is There a Phone Number to Call?

If the seller has posted a contact number as part of their advert, search this number online. If the results show that the number is attached to several adverts offering different dog breeds, this is another good indication that these dogs are being sold from a puppy farm. 

Will They Let You Visit the Litter?

Usually, puppy farmers will arrange to meet potential buyers in a public place such as a carpark or service station, all the while portraying that they have chosen this location to make it easier for you, the buyer. However, you should always ask to see the puppy as part of a litter in their home environment. If the seller makes an excuse for why you cannot do this or straight up refuses your request, this is a strong indication that they do not want you to see where the puppies were born and may thus be a puppy farmer.

A litter of light brown and black puppies playing in their basket.

Will They Let You Meet the Puppy’s Mother?

It is common for puppy farmers to separate puppies from their mother’s as early as possible, which is usually too early. As such, you should always make sure that you see the puppy with its mother before purchasing. If the seller denies your request or makes excuses as to why the puppy’s mother is not there, e.g. she is ill, at the vet’s, staying with a friend etc. do not buy the puppy until you have met its mother. 

Is the Seller Inquisitive? 

Reputable dog breeders always ensure that their puppies are going to a good home where they will be properly cared for, so usually ask questions about you and your situation. If the seller you are looking to purchase from doesn’t seem that bothered and is instead eager to get rid of the puppy rather showing concern for its welfare, they are likely to be an illegal dog breeder.

Can You Take the Puppy Home Immediately?

Buying a puppy from a reputable breeder usually takes time. Not only does the puppy need to be of a certain age to leave its mother, but the breeder will want to find out more about you, your family, home, work and experience before handing over a little bundle of joy. As part of this process, they will usually invite you to go and see the puppy and its mother before you can take the puppy home. Alternatively, a puppy farmer will have no concerns about handing the puppy over on the day you meet it.

A black Labrador puppy sitting in some grass in a field.

What to Do if You Identify a Puppy Farm

While you may be tempted to buy a puppy if you think they are being sold from a puppy farm in order to ‘rescue’ it, it is best not to do this as it can just provide the breeder with more money to continue their illegal operation. Instead, take down the seller’s details and report them to your local authorities such as the local council, animal welfare officers or the police. You can also report them to the RSPCA. 

We hope this guide has provided you with the relevant information about puppy farming and what to do if you come into contact with somebody who is promoting this illegal practice of dog breeding. If you are looking to purchase a gundog puppy, always make sure that you are buying from a reputable breeder and remember these points when making your enquiries. If you’re searching for high-quality gundog accessories or would like some training tips for gundog puppies, visit our blog now!