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Scam safety: How to avoid puppy scams

Pet scammers prey on your emotions and push you to buy. Find out what to look out for.

By Trust and Safety 6 September 2023

Know what to look out for – Maude the Griffon would hate to see you ripped off!


Nothing tugs on the heartstrings like a cute baby animal. Sadly, there are some scammers out there that take advantage of this.

Some breeds can sell for thousands of dollars, so puppy scamming can be lucrative.

Here's how to protect yourself from these scammers.

Scammers are pure-breed enthusiasts

Puppy scammers mostly go for purebreds, because:

  • They're often super cute.
  • They usually are the most expensive.
  • They're less common than many crossbreeds.

This doesn’t mean that all purebred sellers are scammers. But make sure to do your research and be extra vigilant.

Suspicious photos

Are photos of the seller’s litter looking a bit too professional?

  • Try a reverse image search.
  • If you use Google Chrome, right-click on the picture and select ‘search Google for image’.

Scammers will regularly steal photos from Google or even legitimate, unaffiliated kennels when creating a fake listing.

If you find a listing where the photos don’t seem right, let us know via Community Watch.

Don't let them rush you

Ever heard a salesperson say “I only have one left” or “I have lots of other interested buyers, so get in quick”?

These are designed to pressure you into making a decision without taking the time to think it through.

While it’s common for puppies to sell quickly and sellers to list with a ‘first come, first served’ disclaimer, don’t hand over any cash until you’re satisfied the person you are dealing with is legit.

Take your time and do your research

Getting a puppy is a big commitment, one which will have a significant impact on your life. Be sure to take your time and ask yourself if you’re ready for the responsibility of owning a dog.

  • Read our buyer’s checklist.
  • Get to know the seller, their breeding practices and the temperament of their dogs.
  • Check their feedback, as this is often a good indicator of a member’s behaviour and integrity.
  • Check to see whether the seller is complying with our Code of Animal Welfare.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If you aren’t comfortable, hang on to your cash. Report the listing to us through Community Watch at the bottom of the listing page so that we’re aware of the member and can take action.


Trust and Safety
Trust and Safety