Advice on buying a puppy

Increasing numbers of puppies are being imported illegally into the UK from puppy farms in Eastern Europe. These puppies are being sold via adverts on the internet and in newspaper small ads.  These puppies are accompanied by false and forged documentation which leads buyers to believe they have been imported legally or bred in the UK.

The UK is a rabies free country and the rules and regulations surrounding animal imports are in place to protect this rabies free status.  Puppies are being smuggled into the UK without first having been vaccinated against rabies or they have been given the vaccination too young therefore making it ineffective.

Puppies are normally discovered by UK vets after they are taken for their first check up.  If UK vets have any doubt about the legality of importation paperwork or if the microchip originates outside of the UK, they have a legal obligation to report this to the local Trading Standards Service to be investigated.

If found to have been illegally imported the puppy will be taken into quarantine and the fees must be paid by the owners of the puppy, not the seller.  These fees could be in excess of £1000.

Tips to remember when buying a puppy

  • Be suspicious if the seller cannot show you the puppy with its mother and litter mates.  View the puppy where it was bred
  • Get as much information about where the puppy has come from and beware if the seller is from outside the UK
  • If the puppy has been vaccinated ask to see the documentation.  This must clearly state the veterinary practice where this was carried out.  Be suspicious if the address of the veterinary practice is outside the U.K
  • If the seller informs you that the puppy has been brought in from another country it should have a pet passport or a veterinary certificate
  • NEVER agree to have the puppy delivered to your home address or to meet the seller to collect the puppy.  If the seller wants you to do this be very suspicious
  • NEVER pay for a puppy in advance, make payments face to face and request a receipt
  • Trust your instincts – be on the lookout for warning signs that something is amiss

If you have any doubts about a puppy you are planning to purchase speak to your vet or Cheshire East Regulatory Services and Health.

If you suspect a puppy you have bought may have come from abroad and does not have a Pet Passport it may be in contravention of UK rabies legislation.

The RSPCA have a short guide on questions to ask the breeder when buying a puppy


From 6 April 2016 puppies over 8 weeks of age are required by law to be microchipped and owner details registered with puppy and owner details registered on an approved database.  Ensure that any puppy you buy is microchipped and that your details are registered.

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0300 123 5015

Page last reviewed: 05 August 2021