pug puppy

Puppy Scams on the Rise in Australia

Australians are being left heartbroken and out of pocket by these sophisticated puppy scams


Dogs are much treasured and loved family members in households across Australia, providing love, companionship and immeasurable joy.

It has become increasingly common for Australians to buy puppies online, however, and ads placed online are unregulated1. There has been an alarming rise in nefarious and sophisticated online puppy scams preying on Australians hoping to find a new furry family member. These scams have been spurred on by the increasing demand for pets brought on by the Coronavirus lockdowns2. The Australian Competition and Consumer Authority Commission (ACCC) has reported that in 2021, Australians lost a shocking $4.2 million dollars to puppy scams, an increase of 1000% since 20193.

What are Puppy Scams?

Puppy scams exploit Australians searching for a pet by placing fake ads online for puppies that do not exist, and often accept payment from multiple people for the same dog4. The breeds most commonly used in these fake listings are cavoodles and other poodle breeds5. These ads are often placed on fake websites or online classifieds, with scammers impersonating businesses and stealing ABNs to set up websites6, 7. Police have noted a pattern in which victims are asked to make cash deposits which includes costs for transport between states, insurance and registration fees8. There are reports of scammers also contacting buyers after payment for further “emergency” needs9.

These scams take a huge financial and emotional toll on those that have been defrauded, with reports of individual losses up to $25,00010. So many Australians have fallen victim to these scams that there is now a dedicated support group11.

Five tips on how to avoid puppy scams

a brown -puppy

The Link Between Puppy Scams and Puppy Farming

By shopping online for pets, Australians are inadvertently supporting the unethical and cruel practice of puppy farming. Many puppies sold online come through the puppy trade12. Dogs in puppy farms are intensively overbred, and kept in unhygienic and overcrowded conditions that lead to poor health outcomes for both parents and pups13.

Australian puppy farmers have capitalised on this increased demand for dogs, with a rise of 25% in reported puppy farms across the country as of 202114.

Clamping down on this unethical practice, stricter laws on puppy farming have been introduced in Victoria and Western Australia15. To dodge these stronger laws, puppy farmers have moved to NSW, with a marked increase in intensive dog breeding applications in some NSW border towns16, 17.

The puppy trade in Australia

How You Can Make a Difference

Avoid the heartbreak and supporting animal suffering. Our new campaign #CuteQuickSick is here to help dog lovers from getting puppy-scammed and to end puppy farming in Australia and around the world.

The best choice for any person looking to add a dog to their family, is to enquire with your local animal rescue groups and shelters.

Sadly, there are common misconceptions about rescue animals but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Animals in shelters come in all breeds, ages and sizes, they have been given full veterinary care, and their temperaments assessed, so you will be able to find the best animal for your home and lifestyle.

By choosing to adopt, you are not only bringing a beautiful animal into your home and out of a shelter, but you will be also be creating a safe space for more animals to find their place at the shelter until they too are adopted.

sad puppy

looking for a new furry family member?

Check out our free guide on “How to Prepare and Care for Your New Puppy”. 

Download now
cute puppy

puppy trade hurts puppies.

Visit Cute. Quick. Sick. to learn how to help dogs and puppies from unscrupulous traders.

Learn more


[1] Yahoo!News [Accessed 7/12/2022] https://au.news.yahoo.com/dogs-trapped-in-horrific-upright-tombs-as-puppy-farms-explode-090644775.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAMAWN9EY5nLxHWl-L8_ZKwIShikHkKElGn9HBiPGJMxACs3KZiFLXGZWVzwG_Ijftxy69DI9ZuTcTPsGPBCD8v13pwe-LHDiqGPj1TEB9TzCt524E2FakQn36owkJZt5OpGACZQNw5QtVRBKLSZSrvwkibJFh1TKfuAMAsHq9a2T
[2] The Guardian [Accessed 6/12/2022] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/sep/05/losses-from-heart-wrenching-puppy-scams-increase-1000-over-last-two-years
[3] Choice [Accessed 6/12/2022] https://www.choice.com.au/outdoor/pets/products/articles/pet-scams
[4] 9now [Accessed 6/12/2022] https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/coronavirus-puppy-scams-surge-as-experts-warn-aussies-against-buying-pets-online/63e79237-f678-4153-9712-9d9abab548bf
[5] Choice [Accessed 7/12/2022] https://www.choice.com.au/outdoor/pets/products/articles/pet-scams
 [6] News.com.au [Accessed 6/12/2022] https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/warning-over-spike-in-puppy-scams-causing-42m-nightmare-for-australians/news-story/6bc47a41ce3af84cc10bbc5b99208722
[7] Choice [Accessed 7/12/2022] https://www.choice.com.au/outdoor/pets/products/articles/pet-scams

[8] The Guardian [Accessed 6/12/2022] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/sep/05/losses-from-heart-wrenching-puppy-scams-increase-1000-over-last-two-years
[9] News.com.au [Accessed 6/12/2022] https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/warning-over-spike-in-puppy-scams-causing-42m-nightmare-for-australians/news-story/6bc47a41ce3af84cc10bbc5b99208722
[10] News.com.au [Accessed 6/12/2022] https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/warning-over-spike-in-puppy-scams-causing-42m-nightmare-for-australians/news-story/6bc47a41ce3af84cc10bbc5b99208722
 [11]  Puppy Scam Awareness Australia [Accessed 6/12/2022] https://www.puppyscamawarenessaustralia.com.au/
[12] FOUR PAWS [Accessed 7/12/2022] https://www.four-paws.org.au/campaigns-topics/topics/companion-animals/buying-a-puppy
[13] ABC [Accessed 7/12/2022] https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/puppy-scams-how-to-know-if-breeder-is-dodgy/12947050
[14] Yahoo! News [Accessed 7/12/2022] https://au.news.yahoo.com/dogs-trapped-in-horrific-upright-tombs-as-puppy-farms-explode-090644775.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAMAWN9EY5nLxHWl-L8_ZKwIShikHkKElGn9HBiPGJMxACs3KZiFLXGZWVzwG_Ijftxy69DI9ZuTcTPsGPBCD8v13pwe-LHDiqGPj1TEB9TzCt524E2FakQn36owkJZt5OpGACZQNw5QtVRBKLSZSrvwkibJFh1TKfuAMAsHq9a2T
 [15] 7 News [Accessed 7/12/2022] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-10/puppy-broker-banned-from-selling-pets-continued-to-operate/100894396
[16] 7News [Accessed 7/12/2022] https://7news.com.au/politics/the-cruel-ways-puppy-farmers-are-evading-animal-protection-laws-c-8001647

[17] Sydney Morning Herald [Accessed 7/12/2022] https://www.smh.com.au/business/consumer-affairs/they-fell-in-love-with-the-puppies-australians-lost-2-5m-in-pet-scams-20210909-p58qcf.html
Isilay Kizilcik

Isilay Kizilcik

Former Supporter Relations Coordinator, FOUR PAWS Australia

Isilay is a member of the Supporter Relations Team at FOUR PAWS Australia, having joined in 2019 to help make the world a better place for animals.

She is passionate about animal welfare and protection, and has worked in this space for six years. She has also volunteered with various animal protection organisations.

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