Is buying puppies online a good idea? If you do a search for breeders or puppies online you will get literally thousands of hits. There are countless people advertising puppies for sale online. Some people will advise you to never buy a puppy or dog online and tell you that anyone who sells online must have a “puppy mill.” That’s certainly not true. Many active show and hobby breeders, proud of their dogs, have their own web sites and post information about litters when they have them. At the other extreme, there are sites which claim to have home-raised puppies and sell you puppies which are imported from eastern Europe and other foreign countries where animal care standards are not very high. Buying a puppy online can be complicated, but it’s often a great way to make contact with good breeders, as long as you’re careful.
Why would you ever buy a puppy online?
There are some good reasons why you might consider buying a puppy online instead of buying a puppy or dog locally or visiting a breeder. For instance, if you are interested in one of the rarer breeds, there may not be a breeder who lives near you. Most people don’t want to drive or fly across country to go visit a breeder in person to see a puppy, especially when you consider how expensive travel costs are today. Such a trip could add hundreds of dollars or more to the cost of getting a dog and that’s not realistic for many people. Likewise, if you see puppies you like online and you come to like a particular breeder, that breeder might not live close to you, even though they are well-known and very reputable. You might be very lucky to get a puppy from them, but you have to buy online without a personal visit.
If you develop a good relationship with a breeder over the phone or Internet, you can learn just as much about them and their dogs as you would probably learn by visiting them in person. Breeders can set up web cams to show you their puppies; they can send you photos of the puppies and their parents; they can send you information about the health clearances and pedigree of the parents; and they can send you to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals ( www.offa.org/ ) and other health clearance registries to see the health clearances of the parents online.
Virtually everything related to checking out a breeder can be done online, too. You should be able to join e-mail and chat lists for people interested in the breed and ask further questions about the breed. The breeder should be able to let you contact people who have some of their dogs. You should see a sample contract and health guarantee in advance. These are all things that show and hobby breeders typically do, though the details may vary from one breeder to the next. Contact breeders and develop relationships with them. If you are comfortable with a breeder, you should have few qualms about purchasing a puppy online from them.
Who should NOT buy a puppy online?
You should not buy a puppy online if you are browsing the Internet and you have not researched a breed or talked to any breeders. If you are just looking at various web sites that have puppies for sale and you feel the impulse to buy a puppy, it’s a bad idea to buy a puppy online. This is when you can run into trouble because you have not checked out the breed, the breeder, or anything about the puppies being offered. You don’t know anything about them or their parents. You don’t know if they are healthy, for instance. You don’t have a relationship with the breeder.
ALL puppies are cute. They will always be cute. Every puppy you ever see will be cute. Dogs are not going to stop having puppies any time soon. Do not rush into a decision to get a puppy without checking out the breeder and the dogs. Someone will still have adorable puppies available if you have to pass up one site. That is a promise. There are lots of good, reputable breeders with web sites online who proudly announce litters that they have worked hard to produce with puppies who will grow up to be loving and healthy dogs. That’s the kind of breeder you want to work with. When you visit web sites with puppies for sale you should take time to verify that you are dealing with this kind of breeder. Just as with everything else in life, there will always be some untrustworthy people so be careful when you look at puppies online, but remember that you can find good breeders and puppies if you look.