My daughter and I recently had a touch of puppy jealousy. Two of our friends recently brought home an adorable cavoodle puppy, Molly and Scruffy. These puppies were $6000 and $4500 each. Like all puppies they are so cute. We wanted our own little bundle of joy.

A google search instantly found a site that was offering 10-week-old cavoodles for $1500 each. With that price we thought we could have two puppies for less than the price of one! After choosing the puppies and writing emails backwards and forwards to the breeder it occurred to us that maybe this deal was not legitimate. We had already fallen in love with our puppies, and we remained hopeful. We googled “puppy scams” and discovered the tricks that puppy scammers can use.

The internet has made it very easy for puppy scammers to operate. If you are thinking about buying a puppy online, considering the following information will prevent you from being scammed and from falling in love with a puppy that never arrives.

 One or more of the following may expose a puppy scam. 

  1. The advertised price of a puppy is well below the average retail price.
  2. The photo of the puppy has been copied from another website. To check this, you can do a reverse image search of a puppy photo using google image search. Save your photo by right clicking on it then drag it into the search. The result will show you where else the puppy photo has been posted.
  3. The website has  recently been created. Most legitimate breeders have been breeding for a considerable amount of  time. To find out when a website has been created use
  4. The website does not give a contact number or address.
  5. The contact number starts with 04800***** or 04888*****
  6. offers a free reverse look-up service for mobiles and landlines within Australia. Their service allows you to enter a phone number into their system and return any details they have about its owner. You may access details such as the names associated with the number and where they live.   
  7. A WhatsApp contact number is used. Scammers tend to use WhatsApp because all calls and texts are encrypted . This prevents police from accessing their data and makes it difficult to prosecute them.
  8. A google search can find existing scam alerts. Enter the breeder's  email address, website address or phone number plus the word ‘scam’ in Google. 
  9. Puppy scammers may have had their breeder registration number cancelled. Check your state’s dog breeder register website for this information. Scammers can otherwise steal a breeder registration number from an unsuspecting  legitimate breeder. Check that the breeder registration number belongs to the person selling you your puppy.
  10. Puppy scams occur more frequently when you cannot or choose not to meet your puppy and their breeder in person.
  11. Sometimes scammers will directly copy testimonials or content from another website. Type the testimonial or content you are checking into google. This will tell you where else they have been posted.
  12. Legitimate breeders usually have a waiting list for puppies while puppy scammers tell you the puppy you want is available but may sell quickly.
  13. Puppies usually sell quickly. No changes to the puppies listed for sale on a website over a few weeks may show that it is  a puppy scam. 
  14. publishes a list of puppy scam websites in Australia. Puppy scammers can operate from other countries too.
  15. Puppy scammers typically ask you for more money after you have already paid for the puppy in full. They give reasons that lead you to believe that your puppy will be distressed if you don't. These extra requests are made just before you are expecting your puppy. If you refuse to pay extra, they will tell you they will not send your puppy and that you are cruel for risking the wellbeing of your puppy. Buying a puppy is an emotional decision. At this stage you just want your puppy, and most people would pay a little more. Sadly, the puppy doesn't arrive anyway.
  16. Ask to have a Zoom , Facetime or Messenger Video Call to meet the puppy, his mother and to see what conditions the puppy has been living in. If they refuse or make up excuses this is the most significant indicator that the deal is a scam. Don't settle for a pre-recorded video of your puppy. Checking this point first may save yourself time, effort, and heartache.

 After considering all this information, we had to figure that we were dealing with a puppy scammer. With just a tiny shred of hope we sent one last email to the breeder asking for:

  • a copy of his driver’s license
  • his telephone number
  • his breeder registration number ,the name and state that the register is in
  • a copy of all vaccination and health certificates for each dog
  • the name of the treating Vet and their contact details including physical address
  • the name and contact details of three people who gave testimonials on their site
  • a zoom video call to meet our two puppies, the other puppies for sale and their mother

 It was no surprise that I did not hear from him again!

December 11, 2021 — Mary Richardson