Yes, there are plenty of puppy scams happening throughout New Zealand. However, you can buy a puppy safely from a wide range of reputable and legitimate breeders.
Many of these breeders use online platforms to connect with customers far and wide. Here’s how to check they are who they say they are.
Keep a level head
Don’t make a spontaneous, emotional decision based on a few adorable photos with a compelling story of a dog that needs to be adopted ASAP.
Do your research
Phone multiple breeders to get an idea of market pricing and expected wait times. Join breed-specific Facebook groups. Ask if anyone has heard of the breeder you’re looking at. If you’re flexible, or not set on one particular breed of dog quite yet, read our article on purebred dog pros and cons.
Research the breeder
Are they registered with Dogs New Zealand? Can they provide a verifiable physical address? Can you connect with other owners of their dogs?
Quality breeders often offer a lifetime return on their puppies, rehoming them or keeping them if you can’t at any stage. As well as keeping dogs out of pounds, this shows they care about their animals. Finding a reputable breeder is an important step in avoiding unethical and inhumane puppy mills.
Be aware of waiting lists
Most reputable breeders have one, particularly those selling popular breeds. Sometimes, the list is long – especially in 2020 – so be patient. If a breeder pops up saying they have a popular breed of puppy available ASAP, be suspicious. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Ask lots of questions over the phone
Reputable breeders will take the time to speak with you on the phone and will be happy to answer any questions. After all, the more questions you ask, the more interested and engaged you are. For them, that’s a good sign you’ll be a great pet owner.
Want to know how to be a rocking pet parent? Find out here.
Visit the puppy in person
Make the effort to visit the puppy prior to collecting her, say when she’s five or six weeks old. Even if it’s a few hours away, stop for lunch and make a day of it. It’ll be worth your time and energy to know you’re dealing with someone legitimate and that particular pup is what you’re looking for.
Visiting confirms the puppy exists and lets you check out the breeder’s facilities to make sure you’re comfortable with their operation. You may also get to meet the puppy’s parents – a good indicator of how she might be once fully grown.
Plus, it also gives you a chance to check out the pup and parents and see if they’re good examples of the breed you’re looking for. Read how to tell if a dog is purebred and how to prove your dog is purebred for more advice on getting papers, meeting breed registry standards, and more.
Collect the puppy in person
If you’re unable to visit the puppy before getting her, make a plan to pick her up in person. This is especially important if there’s any doubt as to the breeder’s legitimacy. Tell the breeder you’ll fly to wherever they say they are – even if you’re bluffing. If they back away or disappear, you’ll know it was a scam.
Check the legitimacy of photos
Puppy scam operators generally use photos of puppies they’ve found on the internet. Check the photos’ metadata to find information like the date and location the photo was taken. Not sure how? Click here. You can also do a reverse image search using this website. That’ll show you everywhere that picture has appeared online. You might get a shock!
Ask for more photos
A genuine breeder will be able to satisfy your request for more photos. Given most people have camera phones, it’s hardly a chore. If they can only provide the same small handful of photos, you’re right to be suspicious.
Being aware of online puppy scams (read more about this here) and how they operate is the first step to protecting yourself and your family. And with a few tricks up your sleeve to find a reputable breeder, you’ll soon buy a puppy safely and be cuddling your new fur baby in no time.
Finally bringing home a puppy? Click here for our tips on what you need to make your home as comfortable as possible for your new pup.
Once you buy a puppy, then remember to protect your new pet and your finances via pet insurance. That way you won’t need to make any head versus heart decisions when your dog needs crucial medical care.
Our dog insurance plans also cover various costs for when your pup is well too – things like vaccinations and boarding fees. Check out the PD Insurance dog insurance plans here.