More than a quarter of UK households have a pet dog, so in order to protect both animals and humans from mistreatment, harm and disease, various laws are in place and must be adhered to. If you are looking to buy a puppy then be aware of some of the pitfalls when it comes to buying.

Increasing numbers of puppies are being imported illegally in to 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 lead buyers to believe they have been imported legally or bred in the UK.

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

It is often at the first visit to a UK vet where it is found that the puppy has been illegally imported. 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.

Top 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 UK.
  • 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.
  • Ensure you are given the microchip transfer paperwork which should have the microchip number on it. This is a legal requirement. (If you can borrow a microchip scanner you can always scan the puppy to check a microchip is there before you buy it).
  • All paperwork should be available at the point when you purchase the puppy. Do not agree for the breeder to send it on later – it is doubtful you will receive it.
  • 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 the puppy in advance.


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 whilst too young which makes the vaccination ineffective.

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.

Micro Chipping

Obligation to microchip
From 6th April 2016 every keeper of a dog older than 8 weeks of age must have it microchipped. Microchipped means having the dog both implanted with a compliant microchip and the details set out being recorded by a database operator compliant with the rules set out in the Microchipping of Dogs (Scotland) Regulations 2016. Before a dog may be transferred it must have been microchipped and the current keeper’s details be correct.When a dog is transferred to a new keeper the new keeper must notify their details to the database.

Further information

If you have any doubts about a puppy you are planning to purchase speak to your vet or contact Consumer Helpline online or call 0808 1646000.