In a digital age where social media platforms are rife with ‘cute’ puppy pictures, unsuspecting dog lovers are being lured into precarious purchases, warns The Kennel Club.

A recent study, unveiled as part of their ‘Be Puppywise’ campaign, reveals a concerning correlation between social media influence and the surge in unhealthy and unethical puppy buying in the UK. The Kennel Club, one of the largest dog welfare organisations, is now urging the public to exercise caution and be ‘puppywise’ amidst the rising deceitful practices by breeders online.

The research, released on 8 October, sheds light on the alarming statistics that one in four puppies (25%) found on social media platforms either fall sick or die before reaching their first birthday. This disconcerting data is further compounded by the fact that a third of these puppies are suspected to have been bred on puppy farms, with owners being duped by carefully crafted snapshots on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, thereby overlooking crucial warning signs.


The Unseen Consequences of Impulse Buying

The Kennel Club’s research underscores the unseen consequences of such impulse buying, revealing that 61% of buyers encounter unexpectedly high financial costs, while 25% discover unanticipated behavioural issues in their new pets. Regrettably, 18% end up regretting their decision altogether. The research also highlights a significant shift in buying behaviour, with twice as many prospective owners utilising social media to find a puppy compared to five years ago. However, this method provides unscrupulous breeders with a vast, easily accessible market, enabling them to sell puppies with minimal scrutiny, while simultaneously beguiling millions of unsuspecting buyers with strategically selected and irresistibly ‘cute’ images.


The Lure of the ‘Cute Factor’

The ‘cute factor’ seems to be a predominant driving force behind such purchases, with 52% of buyers admitting to choosing their puppy simply because it was ‘cute’, and 56% confessing that the ‘cute puppy photo’ was the primary draw in the pet’s advert. Furthermore, a concerning 24% of puppy buyers who found their new pet on social media platforms spent less than two hours conducting research into their puppy’s background, rendering them especially susceptible to scams and oblivious to the indicators of puppy farms.


Missed Red Flags and Lack of Awareness

The Kennel Club’s findings also indicate that many buyers are neglecting vital red flags during the purchasing process, resulting in a substantial knowledge gap regarding the puppy’s breeding and breeder:

  • 68% did not witness their puppy interacting with its mother and littermates.
  • 64% suspect they did not view their puppy’s breeding environment.
  • A staggering 81% were not questioned about their suitability for dog ownership by the breeder.
  • Over three-quarters (78%) did not see their puppy’s vaccination records.


A Plea for Responsible Purchasing

Mark Beazley, Chief Executive at The Kennel Club, commented on the perilous landscape of online puppy purchasing, emphasising the importance of responsible buying practices. He noted, “In today’s carefully curated digital world, enticing photos are the lifeblood of social media and pictures of puppies grab attention.” However, he warns that behind every adorable photo is a real puppy with genuine health and welfare needs that must be prioritised to prevent devastating consequences.

Beazley further highlighted the ease with which platforms like Instagram and TikTok allow dishonest breeders to access a mass market, selling puppies with scant scrutiny. He implores potential buyers to ensure they ask the right questions, see the puppy with its mother and in its home environment, and to step back if things don’t feel right. Failure to do so not only leads to heartache for the buyers but also perpetuates the rogue breeders’ business, while the puppies continue to bear the brunt of the consequences, as the research starkly reveals.

In light of this, The Kennel Club is actively warning that almost one in three puppies (32%) found on social media are suspected to have originated from a puppy farm, and is advocating for responsible buying through its ‘Be Puppywise’ campaign, in a bid to safeguard both potential dog owners and the puppies themselves from the unscrupulous practices unveiled by this research.

The Kennel Club is urging people to ‘Be Puppywise’, providing responsible puppy buying advice and practical resources on its website.