In the last few years internet puppy sales have
skyrocketed . More puppies are being purchased through
the internet than any other venue. Most web sites and
advertisers are reputable but there are some real bad
apples out there.
It has been estimated that 50% of internet puppy sales
are purchased sight unseen. This has always amazed me
that a person would choose such an important member
of their family from a complete stranger, without ever
meeting the puppy. Some don’t even talk to the breeder.
They do everything through e mail or the breeder’s
Using my guidelines may help you find the perfect new
family member . But you must use common sense. If it
doesn’t feel right don’t be pressured into buying. It is a
3. Do Your Research
Before you start looking make sure the breed(s) you are looking at fits
your lifestyle. Are your active, quiet, have children, allergy to dog hair,
or not wanting dog hair on your furniture. Do you have the time and
resources for a high maintenance coat. Do you live in and apartment,
condo or home? Time to train a puppy. Some breeds are more active .
Some are harder to train .
Once you decide on the breed(s) check out to see what health concerns
are genetic to that breed. All dogs mix and pure can have health
concerns. A good breeder will be able to talk about the problems and
will stand behind their puppies. Your Vet can also give you tips on what
to look for (health wise) when looking at a puppy.
What is your budget for a puppy. A well bred healthy young puppy can
run $900 to $2000+ depending on the breed, and quality . Lower than
that from a good breeder would most likely be an older puppy or one
with a major show fault or minor heath defect . Be very leery of baby
puppies lower than $900 without a reason. If they say they want to get
rid of the young puppies, that’s a major RED FLAG.
4. The Registries
The two best known registries are American Kennel Club (AKC) and United
Kennel Club (UKC) both were established in the late 1800’s . Both have dog
shows for both conformation and performance . The main difference is the AKC
registers all AKC breeders of dogs including the commercial wholesale breeders,
the UKC (under their code of ethics) prohibits their breeders from wholesaling to
pet shops and brokers
The AKC is the largest all breed registry in the world the UKC is the largest
performance registry in the world
AKC is a non profit registry made up of dog clubs . UKC is owned by Wayne
Cavanaugh an AKC judge and former Vice President of AKC.
There are many new dog registries out there. Most established the 90s . One of
which is Continental Kennel Club (CKC)
Continental Kennel Club and some other new registries will register dogs with
unknown pedigrees. If you find a dog and send a photo and add an additional fee,
if in CKC’s opinion it is a purebred they will register it and it can be bred or sold
as a registered dog. Because of this I only recommend purchasing from AKC or
There are registries for legitimate rare breeds (not mix breeds) , breed specific
registries (ie Australian Shepherd) and registries who will not register a pure
breed dog not already registered with AKC or UKC unless it is neutered.
5. Permits and Regulations
Breeders with a web sites, and ads on breeder
directories usually have kennel permits .Most would be
locally licensed , some also have statewide licenses.
Up until Nov.18 2013 only breeders who wholesale to pet
shops and their brokers (the middleman that sell to the
pet shops) had to have a USDA license. People who
would not buy from a pet shop would not want to buy
from their suppliers. All has changed as of Nov. 18 2013.
The next slide will explain.
Many states now have Puppy Lemon laws which regulate
the selling of healthy puppies requiring the breeder to
stand by the puppy’s health with health guarantees.
Most states require breeders collect sales tax.
6. USDA Rule Change a Brief
If a dog breeder has only 4 females capable of breeding they may : 1) sell
the puppies sight unseen (ship cargo) and 2.) wholesale the puppies to a
pet shop without requiring a USDA permit. They cannot sell any puppies or
dogs not born from those 4 females (no stud service or rescues )
Over 4 females the breeder must only sell face to face. The buyer must
come to the breeder. It can be at their place of business (home kennel ) or
meet at a designated place. They will be able to sell stud service puppies,
co owned or breeder terms puppies born off site, do rescue and a not
limited to selling puppies only born from their female dogs on the property .
They cannot wholesale puppies and all sales must be face to face.
Otherwise a USDA permit must be gotten or risk fines up to $10,000.
The only other exemption is selling breeding stock, hunting dogs , guard
dogs, and working dogs (herding, bomb or drug detection, search and
rescue). They can ship sight unseen, but can only sell for these purposes
not for pets. If they also sell pets they must sell all face to face or get a
USDA permit unless that sale is not a normal sale.
Rescue organizations also must sell face to face or become USDA
licensed. USDA has determined donations are no different than any other
payment and fall under the same rules at pet breeders and rescues may not
ship sight unseen.
7. Cargo Shipping Pros and Cons
Pro : Convenience you just have to go to the airport and pickup.
Price may be less than going to the breeder to pick up
Con: You don’t get to choose the puppy best for you .
Weather embargos may limit when you can get your
You may have to pay for additional health certificates
weather delays in areas where the plane lands It may be
Los Angeles but too cold in Denver.
Puppies in the hold will be shipped with other puppies
shipped to the pet shops.
It is not uncommon for cargo mishaps : on the wrong
injuries, or escapes .The airlines must report
Also delayed or cancelled flights
8. Picking Up Your Puppy Pros and
Pros: In most cases you can choose your puppy.
You get to meet the breeder and the puppy’s
parent(s) and siblings .
The puppy in the cabin is as safe as you are. They
are not exposed to other puppies in cargo or the
the elements, frightening experiences , or being
lost in transit.
You need to take time off to pick up the puppy . One
possibly two days
Cost may be more than the average shipping charge of
$350 to $400. If 2 days are required there is an extra
expense of a hotel
9. Tips on Internet Puppy Shopping
Never buy from a person via just email You want to talk to the breeder
and any reputable breeder will want to talk to you
Always ask questions : what types of vaccinations, do you provide
health guarantees, how long have you bred dogs, references, who is
your Veterinarian, do you have the parents. Ask about genetic problems
associated with the breed. If you did your homework you know what they
are, does the breeder? Are the parents checked for health concerns
prior to being used for breeding Are the puppies registered.
If you must purchase sight unseen buy puppies that have Micro chips or
tattoo identification which should stop bait and switch.
When buying, unless you really know the seller, use only a credit card.
If something goes wrong (sick puppy ) credit card companies will try to
resolve the problem and if they side with you, you will get your money
The next slide is the CA puppy lemon law on sales of dogs. Many states
have a similar law. Check with the state you are buying from . It usually
applies to Pet shops and some breeders. In CA 3 litters or 20 sales per
10. California Puppy Lemon Law
"A STATEMENT OF CALIFORNIA LAW GOVERNING THE SALE OF DOGS The sale
of dogs is subject to consumer protection regulation. In the event that a California
licensed veterinarian states in writing that your dog is unfit for purchase because it
became ill due to an illness or disease that existed within 15 days following delivery to
you, or within one year in the case of congenital or hereditary condition, you may
choose one of the following:(1) Return your dog and receive a refund of the purchase
price, plus sales tax, and receive reimbursement for reasonable veterinarian fees up
to the cost of the dog, plus sales tax. (2) Return your dog and receive a dog of your
choice of equivalent value, providing a replacement dog is available, and receive
reimbursement for reasonable veterinarian fees up to the cost of the dog, plus sales
tax. (3) Keep the dog and receive reimbursement for reasonable veterinarian fees up
to 150 percent of the original purchase price of the dog plus sales tax on the original
purchase price of the dog. In the event your dog dies, you may receive a refund for
the purchase price of the dog, plus sales tax, or a replacement dog of your choice, of
equivalent value, and reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees for the diagnosis
and treatment of the dog, if a veterinarian, licensed in this state, states in writing that
the dog has died due to an illness or disease that existed within 15 days after the
purchaser obtained physical possession of the dog after the sale by a dog breeder, or
states that the dog has died due to a congenital or hereditary condition that was
diagnosed by the veterinarian within one year after the purchaser obtained physical
possession of the dog after the sale by a dog breeder. These fees may not exceed
the purchase price of the dog, plus sales tax.In order to exercise these rights, you
must notify the dog breeder as quickly as possible but no later than five days after
learning from your veterinarian that a problem exists.
11. Lemon Law Cont.
You must tell the dog breeder about the problem and give the dog breeder the name
and telephone number of the veterinarian providing the diagnosis.
If you are making a claim, you must also present to the dog breeder a written
veterinary statement, in a form prescribed by law, that the animal is unfit for purchase
and an itemized statement of all veterinary fees related to the claim. This information
must be presented to the dog breeder no later than five days after you have received
the written statement from the veterinarian. In the event that the dog breeder wishes
to contest the statement or the veterinarian's bill, the dog breeder may request that
you produce the dog for examination by a licensed veterinarian of the dog breeder's
choice. The dog breeder shall pay the cost of this examination. In the event of death,
the deceased dog need not be returned to the dog breeder if you submit a statement
issued by a licensed veterinarian stating the cause of death. If the parties cannot
resolve the claim within 10 business days following receipt of the veterinarian
statement or the examination by the dog breeder's veterinarian, whichever event
occurs later, you may file an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to resolve the
dispute. If a party acts in bad faith, the other party may collect reasonable attorney's
fees. If the dog breeder does not contest the matter, the dog breeder must make the
refund or reimbursement no later than 10 business days after receiving the veterinary
certification. This statement is a summary of key provisions of the consumer
remedies available. California law also provides safeguards to protect dog breeders
from abuse. If you have questions, obtain a copy of the complete relevant statutes. -
12. Local Breeders
Most people buy local. Many ads locally are on EBay , Oodle and
Craig's List. On EBay and Oodle there are very good breeders and very
bad sellers. Craig's list is not supposed to allow dog breeders to
advertise and many sellers are “rescues”.
In many places, due to breeder restrictions we are running into illegal
puppy importers to fill the void for especially small breed puppies. The
importers bring puppies in from countries such as Korea, Russia and
Mexico . They are usually produced in mass production kennels and are
shipped to the USA as young a 3 to 4 weeks of age. In Los Angels CA
alone over 250,000 annually.
If a person has puppies for sale, especially if they have more than one
breed and do not have at least the mother for each puppy or the father if
it is a stud service, they are probably brokers which are required to
have a USDA permit . Brokers purchase their puppies from kennels that
stock the pet shops. In the case of illegal importers they are required to
put the puppies into full quarantine until they reach 4 months of age and
have had their rabies vaccine at 12 weeks of age. No contact with other
dogs or humans other than their caretaker. The CDC is in charge of
enforcement . The fear is a rabies outbreak. Most of these countries
have rabies in the dog population. In the USA rabies is found in wild
animal. Rabies can have up to a 1 year incubation period.
13. RED FLAGS
Payment via Western Union, 3 rd party checks, or gift cards
Only will deal through email
Puppies but no parents or just one or two adults running around with several
litters and breeds of puppies. Most likely a broker, illegal importer or puppy
Meeting you in a parking lot or back street with several puppies. Some will give
you directions which you think is to their home and end up being this. At that
point leave. If you can, grab the vehicle plate and report to the local animal
Unregistered purebred or IMO not UKC or AKC registered unless a very rare
breed not yet recognized but registered with their parent club or organization .
Two prices one with papers or cheaper without. (registration cost about $ 20 to
$30 for a litter)
Imported puppies. This has been illegal since 2008 if bought in under 6 months of
age for resale .
Third party brokers. There is one that runs multiple web sites for almost all the
breeds. You call and get a seller who may never have seen the puppies you
purchase through them. Kind of like a puppy boiler room. The breeders working
through them may be fine but I would be very careful and ask to talk directly to
Buy it now sites. Puppy picture with a link to a shopping cart . You buy it and
they ship it to you
14. Puppy Telemarketers
Only difference is you call them. Technically they are puppy
They are well trained in the art of selling puppies. Odds are
they have never seen or touched any puppy from the breeder
they are promoting.
They have slick websites . With the option to buy on impulse
using the buy it now option .
I had a customer who just purchased a puppy for $2500 plus
shipping of $400. The same puppy was advertised by the
breeder on another site for $900 . Nice markup
Always Google their name and check with the BBB. In this case
the BBB had in bold red a consumer warning and a phone
number to call if you had problems. They had almost 800
The breeder selling the puppy may be fine, but I would never be
able to talk to the new owner knowing they paid more than
double what I wanted for my puppy .
15. Puppy Flippers
Newest of puppy peddlers.
Puppies and adult dogs they can easily sell that have
more than likely been stolen
Favorite place to sell Craig’s list and other free venues.
Most are sold out at low prices ($50 to $300) to move
them out quickly
Some flippers pose as rescue groups to help move them
Others owners needing to re home.
If you purchase one of these dogs, you may be charged
with receiving stolen property . You will definitely have to
give up the pet and testify against the thief
16. Illegal Imports
Thousands bought into the USA annually . Mostly from Korea,
Croatia, Mexico and other Asian countries
In 2008 a law was signed that no puppy under 6 months of age
could be bought to the USA to be resold .
Enforcement is CDC which fears a major Rabies outbreak and
other diseases that are not found in the dog population
They come from the Puppy Mills in their countries of origin and
are sold through a network of brokers.
Most are shipped in under 8 weeks of age . Some as young as
4 weeks of age and are immediately put up for sale .
CDC dose not have the manpower to enforce. The importers
now are required to put the puppies in full quarantine until 4
months of age and to have a Rabies shot done at 3 months .
Any puppy for sale under 4 months from another country is an
illegal import and has broken quarantine. The fine is $200,000.
17. Nothing Wrong with This
Some breeders will have you fill out a application before calling you.
Limited registration or non breeding contracts
Spay or neuter contracts
Non refundable deposits. (Very common. If you are serious about buying
a puppy ,there should be no problem )
Some breeders will sell only as co-owner. They stay as ½ owner on the
Some reputable breeders will meet you at dog shows, their handlers or
friend’s kennel or go to your home to deliver your puppy . (now required
Cash only. Most small breeders cannot take credit cards. In this
economy paper checks from strangers may be a liability .
Asking a decent price for their young puppies. Out of pocket expenses
for a healthy well bred puppy can easily run $800 up PER PUPPY. Many
breeders will have over $3000+ invested in their 4 pup litter before 10
weeks of age. If you truly cannot afford more than $600 or less for a
young puppy consider an older pet puppy or private adult adoptions
from a breeder or club member associated with the breed.
18. In Conclusion
With the new federal rules and ever evolving State and Local laws , it has
made it more difficult for the consumer to find a new family member.
Many breeders will stop breeding, many will try to adapt. One thing is
for sure finding a well bred puppy has just become more difficult.
The void is being filled in part with illegal puppy sellers, brokers and
thieves . They don’t worry about regulations, they just move to a
At the very least, if you can, purchase face to face. Only buy puppies
where you can see the parents. If you must ship only purchase with a
credit card and only with the breeder you can talk to on the phone.
If you will not purchase a puppy in a pet shop then do not buy from their
suppliers which include USDA kennels that do both wholesale and retail,
puppy brokers or imported puppies which come from kennels not
regulated as we do in the USA.
19. Important Links
USDA kennel search . Type in the State and all USDA kennels will
be listed along with their current status and inspection reports.
User friendly genetic disorders of purebred dogs
Center for Disease Control CDC document signed by puppy
Although a law was passed in 2008 re puppy imports ,enforcement
has been difficult. This is information on new rules to help
inspectors. As of 2013 the USDA has not adopted regulation to
enforce the 2008 law