How to spot a puppy scam

DoggyDoor • 21 November 2021
Est. reading time: 4 mins
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Why are Australian puppy buyers being scammed?

Lockdown had differing challenges for different people across Australia. Months of isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with an increased flexibility of working from home has pushed many individuals and young families to introduce a four-legged family member into the fold as things start to finally open up again.

Whilst this is incredibly exciting for these families, many Australians haven’t been so lucky in their quest for a new dog. It is believed that Australians have lost approximately $2.5 million to opportunistic puppy scammers.

As the demand for puppies and dogs continue to rise, families become increasingly desperate, often willing to pay thousands of dollars for a deposit online for a pup they have not met in person.

What are some common examples of puppy scams?

  1. The dog which you were sold was not of the breed which you paid for.
  2. You unknowingly bought a dog that was previously stolen.
  3. You thought that you were buying from a legitimate ANKC registered breeder, however in reality you were not.
  4. You paid a deposit for a puppy but then you never heard back from the breeder and have never been able to recover your deposit.
A picture of a happy dog owner

How do I know if a "dog breeder" is trying to scam me?

Here are 8 telltale signs to be aware of when approaching dog breeders.

1. Does the breeder encourage prospective buyers to meet with them and visit their stock?

Viewing and interacting with the litter is an important part of assessing the conditions and cleanliness of the environment. Of course, in recent years of COVID-19 it has been quite hard to do so. If it is not possible to meet with your breeder, ensure that you have lengthy video calls with the breeder where they can show you the pup's environment, and get to know one another. You are also able to make a judgment on the personality and health of the litter. The pups should be socialised and playful with the other pups in the litter as well as guests like yourself. If a breeder is making excuses as to why they are unable to meet in person, or at the minimum have a video call it is cause for alarm bells.

2. Why is the breeder having this litter?

Responsible breeders breed for the continuity, health and excellent standards of their breed. Breeders spend a considerable amount of money and time ensuring that their breed’s lines remain healthy. Often, breeders do not make money from their breeding practices. They do it for the love of their breed. Proceed with caution with breeders that are seemingly breeding to make a profit.

3. Is the breeder trying to get to know you, and your family?

Breeders love their pups. Many breeders see their pups as part of their family. They want to make sure that the families that their pups go home with are going to provide years of love and companionship. They want to make sure that the family and their pup are a good fit for each other. If the breeder asks no questions about you, your family or your lifestyle, this means that this ‘breeder’ is just trying to sell their pup. And in many cases, this will result in a family paying a deposit and not receiving a pup at all.

4. Does the breeder give you any information about health testing of the pups and/or parents?

Responsible breeders breed for the health, continuity and excellent standards of their breed. This means that they should be conducting all the necessary tests in order to minimise the risk of genetic health conditions. Research the relevant breed specific testing that the breeder should conduct on their pups and parents and then ask your breeder what testing they conduct, and what the results mean for their litter. If they are unable to give you information on the testing, or why these tests are important, then there is a high chance that are you are talking to a scammer.

5. Is the breeder registered with the ANKC or state member body of the ANKC?

The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) aims to promote excellence in breeding, showing, trialling, obedience and other canine related activities. Registered breeders of the ANKC and state member bodies are bound by their Code of Practice for the breeding and welfare of puppies. Registered breeders also confirm that they are able to provide you with registration papers for your new purebred (pedigreed) puppy. Ask for the breeder membership number and cross check their details with the state member body they belong to. All breeders on DoggyDoor have been cross checked already.

6. Does the puppy come with any other information on worming, feeding and vaccinations?

Legitimate breeders will provide you with all the necessary information to ensure that you are well prepared for the time when your pup arrives. Legitimate breeders will also provide a helping hand whenever you need advice, or have any questions after the pup is at your home. If you are receiving no information from the breeder you are talking to about the breed, temperament, worming, feeding, vaccinations and more before payment be wary.

7. Is it too good to be true?

Breeders plan approximately when their bitch will be having a litter. And they will know when their bitch is coming into heat. A litter should not be an accident or a fire sale in the case of a sad story. Demand for pups is incredibly high. Breeders should be carefully selecting the best home for one of their pups. They should not be trying to get rid of a pup as quickly as possible.

8. Are you talking to the breeder on Gumtree or Facebook?

DoggyDoor cross checks breeder details with their relevant state member body of the ANKC as well as has a chat with the breeder to make sure they are who they say they are before allowing them on the website. Other websites like Gumtree or Facebook are not solely for the purpose of dog breeding. They do not oversee scammers on their website. By using Facebook, Gumtree or other general marketplace solutions you are leaving yourself vulnerable to puppy scams.

A picture of a happy sausage dog owner

With these signs in mind, you'll be sure to differentiate legitimate breeders apart from others with bad intentions. DoggyDoor lets you browse only verified ANKC registered breeders. Good luck on your puppy search!