How to Avoid Puppy Scams


Puppy lovers are always in a dilemma when they want to buy a puppy online. Are online puppy sellers legitimate? Will I be scammed? How do I order a puppy online safely? … Well, wonder no more. Here is a complete guide to help you avoid puppy scams.


How to Identify a Fraud Seller?

The first step towards avoiding being robbed while buying a puppy online is the ability to note the red flags of a scammer. Here are some of the signs that the seller is illegitimate.

  • Ridiculously low prices. 

    Most buyers will get excited at the thought of buying that brown puppy with droopy ears. Then you search on your browser, and this seller shows up at meager prices. Notably, the website will have all sorts of beautiful photos of your dream puppies. It almost seems like a dream come true, a dream you don’t want to wake up from soon. Well, here is the spoiler, if the vendor has weird prices in comparison with other sellers; most probably it is a scam waiting for you to get lured into buying. Often, these types of sellers steal pictures from legitimate sellers to act as a trap for unnoticing customers.

  • Pestering emails and messages. 

    A fraud will spam your inbox with all sorts of messages asking you to quicken your transaction. The seller will even threaten if you don’t seem to cooperate. However, do not let the threats move you. Take your time to do due diligence regarding the vendor. A genuine online puppy seller will not nag because they have other customers to attend to rather than seem desperate.

  • You get suspicious. 

    One major red flag is your conscious. If you feel something is not right with the seller, most probably it isn’t. Trust your gut because it always knows what is right and what is wrong. If you feel the deal is so sweet that it can’t be right, stop it right there, and you will save yourself from incurring losses. Most people who get scammed always regret not following their intuition.

  • The fraud sellers ask for payment prior. 

    The scammers are always quick to ask for cash even before you view the puppy in question. Notably, the sellers will shun away from any conversation leading to meeting up for viewing before sealing the deal. If you get yourself in such a situation beware you are dealing with an online thief.

  • Payment is made via quick methods. 

    The fraudsters insist on receiving payment through quick ways and especially that you can’t claim back your money. Such plans include but not limited to Western Union, Money Gram, Wire transfer and PayPal. Often, what happens is that the vendor will receive payment even before you realize you have been scammed. Of course, you can’t trace the money after sending. You can learn more about wire transfer scams in FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION Consumer Information.

Common Scam Cases

The online robbers have advanced in their tricks. Just like the demand for puppies has increased, the same way scammers have upped their game. Here are some of the cases that have been documented.

1.Wrong Vaccination

Some scammers will ship puppies with false vaccination microchips. When you receive the puppy, you will then discover that the pup’s age does not match the vaccination dates indicated. Thus, it could be that the shipment was illegal and you could easily land yourself in trouble.

2. Controversies regarding teacup dogs

Teacup dogs are appealing to everyone especially because of their small stature. The dogs could even fit in your purse. Is that not interesting? More so, they are preferred by pet owners who have restricted size of pets or want to carry their pets everywhere. Now, the problem is that some scammers have realized that teacup dogs are marketable and therefore breed them the wrong way. In some instances, the puppies are removed from the mother’s womb before the pregnancy is due. The puppy will look small but might get ill or even die. What happens is that the puppy is vaccinated using the wrong dates since it was born before its time. When you purchase such a dog, it may succumb to breathing illnesses, heart failures or blindness.

3. Shipping agent scams

Another common scam is whereby the fraudster creates fake emails using the details and logos of major pet shipping companies. Then the agent sends an email about some extra charges you should pay for even after clearing everything with the seller. Mostly, it will be about a poorly constructed kennel, insurance, or vaccination.

4. Use of videos

The fraudsters have advanced to the extent of even showing their prey some videos of the puppies they are selling. You may be wondering how the scammer has the videos yet they do not have puppies to sell in the first place. These liars usually approach the dog breeders and request for videos in disguise of buying. Once they get the videos, they then use them on their websites to lure unsuspecting clients.

How To Safely Buy A Puppy Online?

It is estimated that about 80 percent of the online pet sellers who advertise themselves are fraudsters. However, there still exist genuine sellers who deliver what you order for and without any hidden charges. But how can you protect yourself from the illegitimate sellers? Here is a guide on how you can safely buy a puppy online.

1. Learn the traits of a good breeder or seller. Here are some pointers that a seller is legitimate.

  • The seller has the medical history of the pet you want.
  • He also has important information about the genetics of the puppy and what can be done to avoid sicknesses.
  • The online seller or breeder allows you and your family time to visit the puppy and spend time with it.
  • The seller is not in a hurry to sell to you till they are sure you are satisfied.
  • The pet vendor may not always have the dog you want but will inform you when some are born.
  • Once you visit the home where the pets are kept, the house should be clean, and the poodles should be feeding on quality food brands. That means he is a dog enthusiast and not just there for the money.
  • Most importantly, the seller should have licenses and permits to sell dogs. You don’t want to get yourself into trouble of buying illegally.

2. Be Conversant

Knowledge will help you escape different traps. Ensure you learn all there could be to learn about the dog you want to buy. What are its temperaments? Is it suitable for your particular needs? Will it be ideal for your family? Once you have answers to these questions, then you can go ahead with your online search.

3. Obtain the health records

Before buying any pet online, ensure the breeder has all the health certificates indicating the vaccines that have been administered to the puppy. The seller should also have the health certificates of the parents. He or she should also be willing to declare any information regarding genetics, and that would affect the health of the puppy.

4. Ask for customized photos

As earlier mentioned, scammers can send you fake videos of a pet you intend to purchase from them. Now to avoid such a scam, ask the seller to submit a photo of the puppy with a tag written something you decide. Better still, you could video conference with the vendor. A fake seller will shy away from personalized videos or photos. Instead, they will come up with all sorts of excuses not to comply with your request.

5. Use Secure Payment Modes

The best option is always cash on delivery whereby you pay after you pick your puppy from the breeder. If the choice is not available, then pay via credit card because money can be traced. You could even ask your bank about the vendor before making the payment. The banker always knows about shady account holders who have weird transactions or complains from depositors. Do not fall prey to scammers who insist on wire transfers.

6. Buy from an online breeder Near You

Avoid online deals where your puppy has to be shipped from a different country or even continent altogether. It is best to order from your locality because then you can meet with the prospective seller, see the puppy and establish a relationship before you buy. Knowing where to locate your seller is good because you could even consult in the event of something you cannot handle without the help of an expert.

7. Ask for a recommendation from a veterinary near the vendor

Assuming the vendor is genuine and follows vaccination schedules for the dogs, and then it is likely that a vet near them can vouch for them. Search for the vets and ask around before committing your money. Most of the vets will be more than willing to help and will warn if the seller is illegitimate.

8. Realistic price

The deals that seem appealing to your pockets are scams. Most of the breeders selling cheaply will even claim they are cheap because they are raising funds for charity. Do not fall for such kind of talk most probably they are aiming at your money, and in return, you will have no puppy. Compare prices of different online sellers; they should almost be the same. The difference should make sense. For instance, there is no way other sellers are selling at about $ 2,000, but this particular breeder is trading at $ 200. These are scammers who want to make quick money. However, they are lovely and cooperative but wait until you click send on that wire transfer. You will not hear from them again.

9.Request for a written contract

Ask the vendor to draft an agreement indicating the health status of the pup, cost and the charges involved in the shipment. Also, the seller should declare that they would be willing to accept back the puppy in the event it is discovered to have some severe health conditions. The breeder should also sign that he will replace or give back money in case something happens to the pet before the health guarantee period is over. Both of you should then retain the copies of the contract. The contract should be signed before you even pay for the pet.

10. Stick to emails

Since not everyone on the internet can be trusted with personal information such as contact, use emails for your communication at the beginning. Once you establish that the seller is legitimate, then you can proceed to communicate on phone or video-conference. A genuine breeder will also ask you some questions to know whether the pet will be safe at your home.

11. Avoid agents

The contact person should be the breeder. If they insist on sending their agent for delivery, do not allow because they cannot be trusted enough even to know where you live. Insist that you will collect the pet from the shipping agent yourself. A genuine seller will not even talk of agents; they will stick to the procedure.


Despite the much-pronounced scandals of being conned when buying pets online, there are genuine online vendors. All you have to do is some due diligence before you make your payment. Beware of the red flags of scammers such as meager prices, stolen pictures of pets, sending money via wire transfer and buying teacup breeds that have defects. All in all, always trust your gut. If you feel you can’t continue with a deal, stop it altogether. You can visit a shelter near you and adopt a puppy who needs the love and care in a comfortable home and to be part of a family.

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