The decision to introduce a four-legged friend to your household is a big step for any family, and Christmas is a popular time of year to do so. However, prospective pet owners should be aware that illegal and unscrupulous puppy farms are in action in the UK. Here’s how to spot a puppy farm this Christmas and avoid contributing to this terrible practice.
What is a puppy farm?
While the popularity of breeds such as wrinkly English bulldogs or sausage dog Dachshunds has surged in recent years, the demand has fuelled illegal puppy farms, run by breeders who do not prioritise the health, well-being and socialisation of the dogs.
The Dog’s Trust – famous for their timeless slogan, ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ – recently seized 100 young pups in just one week from Folkestone and Dover ports. The UK’s largest dog welfare charity found the dogs living in ‘shocking conditions’, including many with infected wounds from having their tails and ears docked with scissors and vodka – all to achieve the ‘perfect’ look that buyers are looking for.
Puppies purchased from puppy farms are far more likely to have health issues, genetic problems and behavioural issues that may not become apparent until they are older. These breeders only care about profit, there is no thought for the dogs or the problems prospective owners may face later down the line.
What are the signs of a puppy farm?
These sellers are able to disguise the potential problems to well-meaning buyers by sprucing the pups up prior to a sale.
Look out for these warning signs and report suspicious breeders to the RSPCA as soon as possible:
- A pedigree pup with no formal breed paperwork or certification. Although, be aware that some farmed puppies can still be registered with the Kennel Club.
- A seller that offers multiple breeds and types of puppies instead of just a few, carefully bred and raised pups.
- Puppies shown without their mother or siblings.
- A seller who doesn’t seem knowledgeable about the breed.
- A seller who isn’t that interested in you. Expect to be grilled slightly by a reputable breeder – they just want to make sure you’re in it for the long haul and they care where their beloved puppies are going.
- A seller who has no bond with the mother of the puppies. Few dams and sires will even have names, they are simply tools to make money.
How to recognise a responsible breeder
Remember that responsible breeders won’t sell their puppies to the first person who shows up with cash in hand. They will have chosen the parents with care to ensure the best possible chances of a healthy litter, demonstrate passion and knowledge for their chosen breed and won’t always have puppies available – instead they will keep lists of interested folk until the next litter becomes available.
Additionally, a good breeder will always show you the mother and the litter-mates; provide roomy, clean living quarters; and take great care to meet the puppies’ socialisation and enrichment needs as well as the physical.
Rescue dogs can also make wonderful, loving pets – explore online charities and local dog shelters where the staff will do their utmost to find your perfect match.
We have a range of dog insurance policies for you to choose from, once you’ve welcomed your new addition into the fold. Vet bills can be pricey, so the right plan will ensure you don’t have to add financial stress to your worries, should your furry friend fall ill.