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Advice about Buying a Puppy UK

You should be ready for a long commitment if you are thinking of giving a home to a young dog. Use this guide to check some basic legal advice and get some pointers before buying a puppy.

GETTING A PUPPY: There are several important things to consider before you buy a puppy. Besides committing time and money:

  • Most dogs will live for thirteen (13) years (some even longer).
  • Avoid buying puppies from the roadside or a ‘dodgy’ meeting point.
  • Puppies for sale need to be at least eight (8) weeks old.
  • Always try to see the puppy with its natural mother before you buy.
  • Check whether the dog has been microchipped before buying.
  • Ask to see the animal veterinary record of initial vaccinations.
  • Enquire about the puppy’s social activities (e.g. how well does it get on with the other puppies)

Note: You do not need a licence to keep most common domestic pets. But, failing to microchip your puppy in the first eight weeks can result in a fine of £500.

There are several places to get a new dog. It can come from a breeder, from an animal shelter, or as a result of a private sale. In fact, some councils also sell stray or unwanted dogs and puppies.

A dog breeder is a common ‘reliable’ source for a family to buy a small dog. The puppies will have been bred for selling. Even so, always be extra cautious when buying a puppy advertised in the media. It can be a risky option to buy a new dog via the Internet or a local paper.

Consider using a puppy contract from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Several websites from the RSPCA provide more details on buying puppies, including:

  • Get puppy smart offers advice to help you figure out what kind of dog would best suit you and your family.
  • The Puppy Contract has information on responsible puppy breeding techniques for buyers and for breeders.

Note: It is not uncommon for puppies bred ‘illegally’ to have health conditions. They may also have behaviour problems as well as infections and diseases.

Thus, buying an illegally-bred puppy can result in substantial vet bills. It might also limit the dog to a short and miserable life bringing heartache for the dog owner and the family.

In most cases, the way puppies are bred and raised has a lifelong effect. Buying from a responsible puppy breeder can help to make sure it has a happy and healthy life. So, before buying a puppy make sure it is eight weeks old and try to see the pup with its mother.

Buying a Puppy from Overseas

Before you consider buying a puppy born outside of the United Kingdom, you must make sure that the animal is:

  • At least fifteen (15) weeks old and microchipped.
  • Vaccinated against rabies and treated for tapeworm (unless the dog came directly from Finland, Malta, Norway, or the Republic of Ireland).
  • In possession of a pet passport or a veterinary certificate. It must confirm the dog was:
    • Treated for tapeworm.
    • Vaccinated against rabies at the right age and according to the manufacturer’s data sheet.

Note: A different section explains the process for travelling with pets abroad through the Pet Travel Scheme.


Dogs Welfare | Dog care tips, advice, and health information about owning one of ‘man’s best friends’.

Toxic Dog Foods | A long list of common foodstuffs that humans eat which are poisonous for canines.

Importing a Puppy ‘Illegally’

There would be consequences for a new pet imported illegally (not complied with disease control rules). As a rule, the owner would have to pay for animal quarantine and for veterinary charges.

In some cases, the authorities may have the young dog ‘put down’ if its owner cannot pay the costs. Along with the local council, they may also choose to investigate any potential criminal offences committed.

Advice on Buying a Puppy in the United Kingdom