The Wokingham Paper

How to spot a dog from a puppy farm

Simple tips can ensure your new puppy is safe and well

Puppy farms are unfortunately still far too common. Puppies from these farms tend to have increased health and behavioural problems and are often kept in appalling conditions.

However it is not always obvious that the cute puppy you are going to look at is not being looked after properly.

Before going to look at a puppy research the advert and seller. Check how many breeds and litters that they are offering.

Genuine breeders tend to stick with only a few breeds and will not have too many litters at once. Also check their information.

Puppies should be at least six weeks old before their first vaccination and are often older. They also cannot have a passport unless they are older than 12 weeks.

If you are suspicious about an advert report it to the website you found it on. 

While chatting to the seller they should be asking you questions as they will want to make sure that they are finding good homes for their puppies.

They will also know a lot about their breed and want to give you information about their puppies and the breed.


Genuine breeders truly do care for their dogs and often will have return policies in place. If you feel suspicious at all do not meet the puppies and report their advert.

When going to see the puppies you should visit them in their home environment. Some of these homes however have been staged with puppy farmers dropping a litter off in a house before they are picked up by buyers. Therefore have a look around.

The home should look like dogs have been living in it and ask to see the whole litter with the mum.

Check that the dogs are comfortable in the environment and with the seller.

Also check if mum has enlarged teats and if she is bonded with the puppies as sometimes a fake mum is used.

If you believe that the seller is not legitimate then please walk away and report them to the local authority. It is hard to leave a puppy but giving them your money funds the next litter.

#However if you feel there is a welfare issue phone the RSPCA or if you witness animal cruelty walk away to somewhere safe and phone the police.

I have worked with genuine breeders and it is always a pleasure to meet their puppies which are obviously loved and well looked after.

However I have also seen the unhealthy, poorly developed and poorly socialised puppies produced by puppy farms.

Heartbreakingly, I have also seen puppies from these farms who have been too ill to survive. Therefore I urge potential new puppy parents to please be aware, be vigilant and if you have any suspicion please report it.

St Vincents

Claire Turner is a Veterinary Surgeon at St Vincents Veterinary Surgery, a family-owned practice providing personal care for all your pets in and around Wokingham. Should you have any concerns about your pet please call the practice on 0118 979 3200 or visit to find out more about the practice.

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