Puppy Buyers Beware

The American Kennel Club is dedicated to helping potential dog owners acquire a dog responsibly. Dog ownership is a long term commitment that starts by researching the right breed for your lifestyle, finding a reputable breeder and being ready for the financial and emotional responsibility—and the many rewards—of owning a dog.

Purchasing a dog should be a positive and gratifying experience. Yet many potential pet owners may become so eager to bring a dog into their home that they might not be aware that some people are poised to take advantage of their enthusiasm. Below we have offered some tips to alert consumers to schemes involving dogs. You should also educate yourself on the hallmarks of a responsible breeder.

Puppy Buyers Beware
  • Because of the emotional investment in buying a puppy, scammers can take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. The AKC and the Better Business Bureau recently issued a warning about a specific internet scam and caution people to remember that con-artists will always invent new schemes to lure victims.
  • If you locate a breeder through a web site, do not send money without speaking to the breeder and checking references and credentials first. Ask if the breeder is a member of an AKC-affiliated club and contact the club to verify membership.
  • Don't be fooled by a well designed website, as unscrupulous scammers will often create a professional-looking, but fraudulent website designed to lure the potential puppy buyer in with cute puppy pictures.
  • Beware of scammers who offer to "re-home" their purebred puppy in exchange for transportation or vaccination fees. If a free purebred puppy sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Scammers will continually ask for more money for unexpected, and false, costs.
  • Make sure you have clear expectations—ideally in writing—of how and when the puppy will be paid for. If the puppy is being shipped long distance, the best approach would be to pay for half up front and half upon receiving the dog (and after getting a veterinarian to sign-off on its health).
Puppy buyers may also be confused about purebred "papers." They can be intentionally misled, or simply unaware of what to look for. Below are some tips about AKC registration papers.

More information on finding a reputable breeder

All Registrations Are Not Equal
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AKC Dog Registration application
  • When you buy a dog represented as "AKC-registrable," you will receive an AKC Dog Registration application, (pictured in the image at right) filled out by the seller
  • Be wary of excuses such as "AKC hasn't sent the papers yet." The AKC Dog Registration Form should be available at the time you pick up your puppy. If not, wait until the breeder receives it before you pay for and take home the pup.
  • The AKC is the only purebred dog registry which conducts kennel inspections to ensure the proper care and conditions of AKC-registered dogs. Make sure your new puppy's registration and papers have the official AKC seal.
  • AKC does not accept registrations from most other domestic registries, so don't assume that you can transfer your dog's registration to AKC after buying the dog.
  • Buyers should look for AKC registration, the only registry that offers the services, events and commitment to purebred dogs that buyers—and their canine companions—deserve.
More information about AKC papers

A Word of Caution to Breeders

Potential puppy buyers are not the only ones who need to be cautious when conducting financial transactions—scams exist which target breeders as well.

The AKC warns breeders to be cautious of buyers who contact them wanting to buy a puppy, and who pay by issuing a check or money order that is GREATER than the agreed price of the dog.  Unscrupulous scammers will invent an excuse for why the amount they are sending is greater than the price of the puppy, and then ask that the difference be wired to them via Western Union.  The result is that the check or money order usually turns out to be fraudulent, and the breeder ends up being conned out of hundreds of dollars they’ve already wired to cover the difference in price.

Beware of a puppy buyer who is overly concerned with payment options (money order, wire transfer), who communicates solely through a poorly worded email, gives a non-working phone number, or claims that their “agent” will pick up the puppy.   Anyone who has experienced a dog-related scam should report it to their local authorities as well as the AKC Customer Service department at 919-233-9767, and the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org).