Publication - Research publication

Sourcing of pet dogs from illegal importation and puppy farms 2016-2017: scoping research

Published: 9 Nov 2017
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate
Part of:
Farming and rural, Research

The report describes research into the scale of the trade in imported and illegally bred puppies.

Sourcing of pet dogs from illegal importation and puppy farms 2016-2017: scoping research


1. According to the Pet Food Manufactures' Association (2017) there are more UK households with dogs (24%) than any other pet.

2. The IBF International Consulting (2015) report valued the EU trade in dogs and cats to be worth 1.3 billion Euro.

3. For example, Dogs Trust 2014 and 2015; Four Paws International 2013; International Fund for Animal Welfare [ IFAW] 2012; PDSA 2016; Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [ RSPCA] 2016


5. Presumably, most respondents were from Glasgow as it is the largest city in Scotland and had the most stakeholders.

6. The limited number of males as focus group participants can be explained by the fact that many of the female owners purchased a dog with their male partners. However, the female owner was more likely to lead in the search and purchase and thereby choose to represent the couple in the research.

7. We expected to have a higher portion of younger consumers as the research was advertised extensively on social media. It is not possible to identify how representative the sample is of the overall puppy consumer population.

8. The Pet Travel Scheme regulates the movement of companion dogs (and other animals) between EU member states. It was updated in the UK in 2012.

9. Organisation name removed to ensure anonymity.

10. It is important to note that the same seller is likely to be using alternative names, email addresses, and/or phone numbers to avoid being identified as a repeat seller by the website hosting his or her advertisements. Furthermore, an extended period of observation may have facilitated the identification of repeat sellers.


12. TRACES is an EU-wide online veterinary database for monitoring the commercial movement of animals.

13. It is important to interpret these results within the remit of this small-scale study, which aimed to provide a cursory view of the nature, prevalence and use of PAAG standards in the online puppy trade.

14. Although professional breeders are also responsible for harms linked to selective breeding, which may increase the incidence of inherited diseases or harmful exaggerated features, these breeders are not commonly associated with the illegal puppy trade.