What is a Puppy Farm?

Since Lucy's Law came into effect, all third-party sales of puppies six months or younger are banned. Puppies can only be sold by the breeder, from the place they were born with their mum.

However, it's still easy to be tricked into buying a dog that's a product of a puppy farm, especially as the people who run them are becoming sneakier at hiding what they're doing. Here are the things to look out for when purchasing a puppy.

What is a puppy farm?

A puppy farm is defined as “an intensive dog breeding facility that is operated under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs.”

Whilst we generally think of puppy farms as being large scale operations, other small volume breeders can also be considered puppy farmers. The dogs will be kept in poor conditions with the so-called ‘breeders’ simply not caring about the health or happiness of the dogs.

Simply put, puppy farms are bad for dogs and owners, as health issues are more prevalent in these puppies which can lead to more illnesses, massive vet bills and ultimately heartache for innocent and well-intentioned new owners.


The Breeder and the Environment Feels off

The breeder won't let you see the mother

Alarm bells should ring if you can't see the mother of the pups for any reason, even if you are given a seemingly legitimate excuse such as that the mother is just out for a walk.

This could either mean that the sellers don't have the mother, which would suggest they're acting as middle men for the puppy mills, or that the mother is in such bad condition or ill health that seeing her would put you off buying the puppies.

Stand your ground- refuse to go any further with talks until you have seen the mother in person.

The seller wants to meet you in a 'neutral' place

Puppies should always be seen in the environment they're being raised in so that you can check it is safe and appropriate.

Anyone wanting to meet you in a place such as a car park or petrol station is likely to be attached to puppy farming. This is either because they have imported the puppies illegally or to avoid having to show you the disgusting conditions the dogs are being kept in.

Be ready to hear excuses claiming they are meeting you halfway for your convenience. Don't take the risk. Only accept a meeting at the place where the puppies can be seen in their usual environment with their mother.

They have multiple breeds and litters available

Legitimate dog breeders spend so much time and energy on what they do that they will usually only breed one type of dog, occasionally two.

Sellers who are advertising multiple breeds of dogs are likely using puppy farms to 'mass produce' designer puppies without any care for the welfare for the dogs.

Equally, any seller who constantly has puppies available could be subjecting their dogs to constantly being pregnant, where they simply churn out puppies for their entire adult lives.

If you are unsure, ask how many litters the mother has had. An adult female should have no more than four in a lifetime and be older than one when she starts having puppies.

The seller doesn't know much about the breed

There are hereditary illnesses affecting certain breeds and health screening is available for a variety of conditions from hip dysplasia to heart disease. A good breeder will know exactly what tests are relevant to their breed and will ensure screening is done prior to mating.

Sellers who refuse to health test or don't know about the risks of the breed are likely to be breeding irresponsibly, without any care for the dogs themselves, or acting as a third party seller for a puppy farm.

The breeder doesn't want you asking questions

It can sometimes feel uncomfortable asking lots of questions about the puppies but any responsible breeder will be happy to answer any enquiries you have- after all, they only want the best homes for their puppies.

Breeders who are evasive when questioned or grow annoyed at your questions are likely to be trying to cover something up and could well be puppy farmers.

The seller is pressuring you

Legitimate breeders don't want their time wasted and so will be keen to know if you are genuinely interested in purchasing one of their puppies. That being said, a breeder should never pressure you into buying a puppy. If you find the seller trying to make you make the decision in a rush, often insisting that you have to buy the puppy there and then, alarm bells should ring.

A good responsible breeder wants the best homes for their puppies, they don't want the sale rushed. It's likely that someone pressuring you doesn't want you to have chance to think about the decision and wants the sale for all the wrong reasons.

The puppies' environment seems wrong

Check that the puppies are in a clean and safe environment and within the breeder's home.

On the other hand, check that the area looks lived in; puppy farmers have been known to rent out locations to show their puppies to pass off a loving, clean home environment.

Are you worried about Puppy Farms?

Tailwise takes the guesswork out of getting a puppy. We check and verify all our breeders and their litters before they can even be listed on our platform. That means no puppies from puppy farms - ever. Sign up today to be part of the fight against puppy farms.

The Puppies

A puppy is offered as a special or rare type

The most common case of this is the selling of 'teacup' dogs as though they are a special type of that breed. 'Teacup' dogs are bred purely for size and without any attention given to the health of the dogs and possible side effects of their tiny size. These are sometimes also runts of litters or a much younger puppy than is being claimed, either of which would most likely have a difficult time surviving if purchased.

Good breeders should be breeding for the benefit and preservation of the breed and with the breed standard in mind. Those claiming to have a special type are likely to only care about making fast money from the trade, rather than what is best for the dog.

A dog is being sold extremely cheaply/expensively

If you come across a breed that usually costs thousands for a couple of hundred pounds it is normally a sign that something is not right. This could mean you are being sold something different to advertised, that the puppy is in bad health or has even been stolen or smuggled into the country.

At the same time, puppies that cost far more than usual could well also be a product of puppy farming and someone looking to make a lot of money out of badly treated dogs.

The puppy is under 8 weeks

Puppies should not be separated from their mother under the age of 8 weeks as they are still weaning off their mother's milk and are dependent on her. If you find someone offering a puppy younger than 8 weeks, do not buy it, even if the seller assures you that this is ok.

The puppies/mother seem anxious

Whilst it's normal that the mother will be protective of her puppies, this should not come across as timidness and stress. The puppies themselves should be curious to meet you, as well as active and alert.

Anxiety in either shows a lack of socialisation, a common problem with dogs raised in puppy mills, meaning that they have no idea how to act around humans or even other dogs.

The mother doesn't seem interested in her litter

One of the ways a puppy farmer may try to trick you is by putting a healthy dog with the puppies and pretending it is the mother.

Don't just assume that the dog shown to you is the mother. Check that she is interested and attentive to her puppies. Her teats will usually be visible too due to nursing her young.


This is why Tailwise exists...

Tailwise takes the guesswork out of getting a puppy. We check and verify all our breeders and their litters before they can even be listed on our platform. That means no puppies from puppy farms - ever.

Sign up today to be part of the fight against puppy farms.

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