Warnings and Tips For Buying Dogs On-line.


In this Holidays4Dogs article we will look at the subject of buying dogs online and any pitfalls buyers should be aware of. There are many more people looking to re-home dogs – some genuine, some not so. Therefore, it is always pays to be aware of what you might be letting yourself in for. 

Dog and puppy sales have increased dramatically in the past couple of years. Many families opted to take on new dogs during Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. The demand for dogs fuelled a huge increase in people breeding and selling dogs, with a large percentage of these animals being advertised online.

In recent years, there have been many lock-down puppies up for re-sale or adoption. As families returned to work and school, hundreds of dogs found themselves being given up for adoption, or being sold on.

As a result lots of people looking for a new pet have a lot of choice when it comes to buying dogs online.

Sadly, many dogs found themselves up for re-homing because they developed behavioural issues, such as separation anxiety.

There a few things which potential purchasers can look out for when buying dogs online, especially in the wording of advertisements on-line. There are some genuine sellers on some of the major internet websites that deal with animal sales.

However, there are also many more dubious sounding ones. Here are a few phrases that we found on real puppy adverts and which might sound alarm bells;-

‘Full pedigree, but no papers’.

There may be a genuine reason why breeders choose not to register their puppies. However, whether you buying a dog online or not, it is a good idea to ask the seller why. If breeders are producing three, or more, litters annually, they will need a dog breeding license from the local authority.

Some unscrupulous breeders will not register their litters in order to avoid this. Under the license, they are subject to strict rules concerning the care and welfare of the dogs they breed, as well as periodic inspection of their premises.

Both parents can be seen’.

This is a tricky one because it sounds like a plus point. However, it doesn’t mean that the parents of the puppies are necessarily compatible. Reputable breeders will travel long distances to find a suitable mate for their female dogs. Some breeders do keep their own stud dogs but, equally, it could be someone who is breeding two pet dogs simply for monetary gain. Alternatively, it could have been a genuine accidental mating – so again, ask lots of questions.

Can deliver’.

Never purchase a puppy, or dog, where the advert says they will bring the dog to you, or meet you at a place other than the dog’s home. If you are buying a dog online and the person offers to deliver the puppy – walk away. Always see a puppy with its mother and littermates, in the place where they were born. As well as this, expect any reputable breeder to ask questions about your home and lifestyle. This will inform a good breeder of your suitability. This can occasionally involve a home visit, but this would be before you collect the pup from its home.

Here is a selection of adverts for older dogs which might equally raise suspicion;

‘Serious guard dog’.

This advert was for a two year old Belgian shepherd dog which the owner described as having to re-home due to a house move.

The advert went on to say the dog needed someone who knew about the breed as the dog was a, “serious guard dog”.

This suggests the dog is already aggressive with the owners, and is highly likely to be aggressive with strangers and extremely difficult to handle. The seller wanted £500 for the dog! Always be mindful of the wording when buying dogs online.

Lovely dog, but needs more time than we can give him’.

This is an extremely common statement in adverts for older dogs. It may well be genuine, but it is crucial to find out as much as you can about the dog.  This could mean, the dog is so out of control/boisterous/destructive that we can’t cope with him/her anymore’. It’s always a good idea to spend as long as you can viewing a pre-loved dog in a private home. Ask if you can take the dog for an accompanied walk so you can see his behaviour while out and about.

‘Good with other dogs and people once he gets to know them’.

This very much insinuates the dog is less than friendly with dogs and people. He, or she, may well be a challenging dog to own, unless you have a lot of experience. If you are a novice dog owner, it is even more important to find out as much as you can about the dog you are buying online.

‘My child has developed an allergy to the dog’. 

Once again, this is a common statement seen in online advertisements. Could it mean owners are no longer interested in the dog? Or, does it mean that it has turned out to be nothing but a handful?  It is possible to count dozens, upon dozens of adverts that claim a sudden allergy in the family. Some may be genuine, but it would be wise to dig a little deeper.

Free to good home’. 

A decade or so ago, this might have been genuine. However, with dogs fetching a lot of money these days, a free dog going begging may be too good to be true.

Genuine people are more likely to ask for a donation to charity, or a token outlay, in order to ensure the dog has a good home. Offering a dog for free these days sounds like a desperate desire to be rid of a difficult dog. Equally, beware of people who are asking a lot of money for dogs they admit have behavioural issues, (as in the Belgian Shepherd advert above).


Getting a dog or puppy isn’t as easy as picking one from a website. Therefore, it’s really important to do lots of research and ask lots of questions. If you have your heart set on a puppy, your first port of call might be the Kennel Club. The KC keep a list of registered approved breeders. Many reputable breeders have waiting lists for quality puppies and wouldn’t need to advertise anyway.

If you would prefer to give an older dog a home, head to your local rescue centre first. They will have assessed all the dogs in their care. Therefore, there should be fewer surprises when it comes to your dog’s temperament and behaviour.

Either way, there are plenty of dogs out there, but plenty of pitfalls by buying dogs online, so Holidays4Dogs would advise to proceed with caution.