Thousands Fooled into Buying Unhealthy Puppies

Living Magazines Kennel Club Be Puppywise

Research from The Kennel Club leads experts to urge the public to be ‘puppywise’, as unscrupulous breeders use social media to dupe owners in the region.

New research, released by one of the biggest dog welfare organisations, has revealed the disturbing influence of social media on puppy buying in the region and the consequences for canine welfare.

Revealed as part of The Kennel Club’s Be Puppywise campaign, statistics show four times the amount of puppy buyers in the East of the UK are turning to social media sites to find a pet compared to five years ago. However, The Kennel Club is warning that platforms like Instagram and TikTok give unscrupulous breeders easy access to a mass market, where they are selling puppies with little scrutiny, and deceptively appealing to millions of unaware buyers with ‘cute’ and cleverly curated pup pictures and posts.

Shockingly, across the UK, the organisation’s research found that one in four puppies (25%) advertised on social media get sick or die before their first birthday.

Thousands more unsuspecting owners in the East experience complications when buying a puppy, with over half (55%) facing unexpectedly high financial costs, more than a fifth (17%) admitting their pup had behavioural issues they weren’t expecting, and one in five (20%) regretting the way they purchased their dog.

The research indicates that instead of conducting thorough searches about their puppy’s background, would-be owners in the region are drawn in by ‘cute’ photos:

  • Two in five (40%) owners in the East bought their puppy ‘because it was cute’
  • And more than one in four (26%) admit it was the ‘cute puppy photo’ that most appealed in their pet’s advert
  • A further quarter (23%) worryingly spent less than two hours doing their research, leaving them particularly vulnerable to scams and unable to spot the signs of puppy farms.

The Kennel Club is warning that duplicitous breeders are exploiting this lack of awareness – more than one in five puppies (22%) bought in the East are suspected to have originated on a puppy farm, after owners are captivated by puppies advertised on sites like Instagram and TikTok and miss warning signs: three in five (58%) didn’t see the puppy interacting with their mum or their puppy’s breeding environment, and more than two thirds (68%) didn’t see any vaccination records.

The research also highlights that, despite the worrying consequences of making hasty and uninformed decisions based on what has been seen online, social media has an increasingly powerful influence; more than half of puppy buying decisions (51%) in the East of the UK are influenced by social media and nearly one in four (23%) owners in the region said that when buying their puppy, their main information source was either social media, influencers or celebrities – over vets, dog welfare organisations and breed experts.

‘In today’s curated digital world, enticing photos are the lifeblood of social media and pictures of puppies grab attention – so there is an obvious appeal to buying and selling puppies using these platforms,’ commented Mark Beazley, Chief Executive at The Kennel Club, which is urging responsible buying via its ‘Be Puppywise’ campaign. ‘But if people forget that behind every cute photo on social media, there is a real puppy, and a real need to ensure that their health and welfare has been prioritised, then there can be truly devastating consequences.

‘Platforms like Instagram and TikTok can give unscrupulous breeders easy access to a mass market, where they can sell pups with little scrutiny, so it’s down to the puppy buyer to make sure that they ask the right questions, see the puppy, with their mum and in their home environment, and step back if things don’t feel right. Failing to do so can lead to a world of heartache for puppy buyers and keeps rogue breeders in business, whilst puppies continue to suffer the consequences, as this research shows.’

Following this urgent warning, The Kennel Club is urging people to ‘Be Puppywise’, providing responsible puppy buying advice and practical resources on its website:

Image 2023 credit The Kennel Club, Eleanor Riley