Five things to be aware of when considering buying a puppy online this Christmas

It has become common for Australians to buy animals online via classified ads sites, especially those breeds who are considered ‘designer’ and therefore attract a high dollar value.


Puppy farms and kitten mills contribute to 90,000 euthanised dogs and cats a year in Australia alone. These helpless pups and their parents (the breeding animals) are kept in dirty, squalid enclosures or cages, lacking the basic conditions for their welfare and comfort such as healthy food, proper veterinary care, a warm bed, or enrichment and toys.

Over the holiday season, companion animal sales skyrocket with a lot of Christmas purchases occurring on the internet to save time. 

Animal welfare campaigner Jeroen van Kernebeek, Country Director at FOUR PAWS Australia, says that consumers need to be very cautious when buying animals on online trading platforms. One of the major concerns is that the buyer cannot see whom she or he is buying from and how the animals are treated before they are given a loving home.

“Unfortunately, there are breeders who care more about the money than the welfare of the dogs and the online trade gives them a perfect platform to hide their poor practices. Sadly, the animals pay the price with severe health problems and accompanying grief and veterinary bills for the owners. Purchasing animals from such breeders comes with many risks for the health of the puppy and the parent animals.”

Jeroen van Kernebeek, FOUR PAWS Country Director Australia

Jeroen has shared the top five things to be aware of if you are considering buying your new family addition online in the lead up to Christmas.

  1. Think about it – Anyone considering adding an animal to the family should ask themselves if they are ready for the commitment. Being a guardian of an animal is a wonderful thing, but it takes a lot of work and responsibility, and is something that should be taken seriously. Make sure you have the space and the time to take care of your new animal friend, not just today or tomorrow, but for the long-term. Animals should not be considered as Christmas gifts or as a novelty item, but with the care and consideration of this lifelong commitment. Christmas can be taxing enough without adding a stressed animal to the occasion.”

  2. “Adopt – We strongly recommend that Australians first consider adoption from an animal welfare organisation. When welcoming a new companion animal into your life, choosing to adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue group not only saves the life of that animal, but also positively contributes to the ongoing fight against animal overpopulation and homelessness. Thousands of wonderful animals are brought to shelters every year not because of something they have done, but because their owners have had a change in situation such as moving home, which leaves these once beloved pets in desperate need of a new forever home. That’s why FOUR PAWS always recommends adopting an animal rather than buying one. And yes, you can do that online too:”

  3. Do your research –If you are buying online, ask yourself how you can ensure that the breeder you’re thinking of buying from is ethical. Unfortunately, the online trade is poorly regulated. All online trading platforms, including the popular Gumtree and Trading Post, are missing important systems such as seller identity verification to ensure the animals sold through their sites are offered by reputable breeders. You can really only ensure that you are about to buy a happy and healthy animal when you visit the breeder personally and insist on seeing where the animal was born and what the living conditions of the mother and father are. Too often we have seen cases where a puppy has come from truly horrendous conditions, suffering from disease and behavioural issues, due to treatment by bad breeders.”

  4. Avoid – Make sure to avoid puppy farms and backyard breeders. These breeders focus on producing high volume animals and making money. The conditions on these farms are terrible and inhumane. Females are used merely to breed and are treated very badly. As most of the animals are continually made pregnant before fully recovering, their offspring can be predisposed to disease. Such breeders are immoral and their practices are cruel to both the parent animals and their puppies. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realise that online pictures don’t always tell the whole truth.”

  5. Don’t be afraid to ask – Asking the breeder all the right questions will help you find the perfect animal to join the family. Ask as many questions as you can, such as about the microchip and vaccination papers. What can they tell you about the breed? Does the animal require a lot of exercise? Is the animal child-friendly? Essentially, people need to listen to their instincts. If something feels off, then find another option.”

if you choose to buy rather than adopt...

  • Always visit a reputable and licensed breeder, and ask to see their licence.
  • Check they have the correct paperwork for an animal.
  • Ask lots of questions! A reputable breeder should always be happy to not only answer your questions but offer ongoing support before and after you choose an animal with them.
  • Spend time with an animal before buying to ensure they are comfortable with you and have the right temperament for you and your household.
  • Check the animal's health and surrounding area, are they well cared for?
  • Make sure the puppy is at least eight weeks old before they leave their mother, and that they are fully vaccinated.
  • If the breeder won't let you view the puppy with their mother and the rest of the litter, walk away
  • Avoid buying animals through advertisements, newspapers, online and through some pet shops.

FOUR PAWS Australia on social media

Stay up to date on this topic and follow all FOUR PAWS activities on our social media channels:


FOUR PAWS press contact

Elise Burgess

Elise Burgess

Head of Communications

M: 0423 873 382

FOUR PAWS Australia
GPO Box 2845 

Main Phone: 1800 454 228

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.

Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.

With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

Share now!