Illegal puppy trade

The puppy trade is booming. Thousands are sold every day across Europe by unscrupulous dealers on the internet, in pet shops and in public spaces.

Bred in remote and filthy puppy farms, tiny pups may be separated too early from their abused mothers to be transported for sale across the continent. Puppies are often sick and accompanied by fake documents. In many cases the new owners are faced with high veterinary costs and, tragically, the kindest option for an unwell pup is often euthanasia.

Unregulated and illegal breeding and selling of puppies is the cause of massive animal suffering across Europe.
FOUR PAWS is calling on puppy buyers to research widely before buying a puppy and learn to recognise the signs of an illegal puppy dealer. We are demanding EU-wide legislation for the registration and identification of all dogs; and calling on online classifieds sites to improve practices to combat the cruel puppy trade.








Are you a victim of illegal puppy dealers? Do you know a dog owner who could share their experience? Did you recently notice a suspicious puppy sale or advertisement?

Complete this form and tell us about your experience. With your help we can expand our research, run investigations, and demonstrate the scale of the cruel puppy trade. Together we can make the world safer for dogs and their new owners.


Location where I bought my puppy/where I witnessed puppy trading

Your guide

Please follow our checklist before bringing a new puppy into your life. Also do not forget that there are puppies in shelters who desperately need a loving home! However, if you’re determined to buy, please follow our checklist to make sure you don’t accidentally buy a farmed puppy and by doing so, unwittingly support illegal traders.


Always buy from a licensed breeder

Always buy from a reputable and licensed breeder and ask to see their licence. Avoid buying dogs through advertisements, newspapers, online and through some pet shops.



Make sure the puppy is at least 8 weeks old

Check that the breeder has the correct paperwork for the puppy. Make sure the puppy is at least eight weeks old before it leaves its mother and check the paperwork for its first vaccinations.



Ask to see the mother dog

Spend some time with the puppy to make sure it’s the right temperament for you. If the breeder won’t let you view the puppy with its mother and the rest of the litter, walk away. 



Ask questions

Ask as many questions as you want – a reputable breeder should always be happy to not only answer all your questions, but offer you support with your new companion before and after the purchase.



Ask a vet in case of doubt

If you have any concerns, ask a local vet to accompany you when you make a second visit.