The Illegal Puppy Trade

As demand has grown for fashionable, designer breed puppies such as pugs and French bulldogs, it has been met by increasingly unscrupulous breeders ready to make a huge profit, with no consideration for the welfare of the pups.

This, coupled with the relaxation of EU quarantine laws has led to a vast increase in the number of puppy farms being set up in Eastern Europe to supply private buyers, pet shops and puppy dealers, or to sell directly via the Internet, in the UK and other parts of Western Europe.

Bred in horrendous conditions, kept in tiny, cramped cages with little access to ventilation or light.  The puppies are removed from their mothers after 5-7 weeks, and then transported thousands of miles to be sold to unwitting consumers in the UK, often when they are still too young to be legally transported. Some of the puppies will die during these journey’s, but the profits made on the surviving puppies means this has little impact on the traders.

The mothers are used as breeding machines, bred from time and again. They often spend their lives chained up in darkened sheds, not given any exercise and are underfed and mistreated.

Sadly, many are totally unaware of the depressing reality behind the puppies they are buying. The puppies are often transported on falsified passports, are unlikely to have been properly socialised and may have behavioural problems. Some of the puppies will have medical conditions and may even pose a risk of rabies!

People might think they are getting the bargain designer-breed puppy until they are left with a hefty vet bill. And if a puppy is found out to have been illegally transported, its new owners may even be forced to pay the quarantine costs!

Despite widespread reports of this major animal welfare problem, puppy traders are rarely caught, and when they are the punishments are minimal.

Agree this has to stop?

Write to your MP and DEFRA urging them to end this cruel trade once and for all!


We always recommend adopting a rescue puppy or a dog rather than buying one. However, if people are determined to buy, we suggest reading our guide to buying a puppy. 

Your guide to buying a puppy