The 2024 Absolute Guide on Pet Scams and How to Avoid Them

With the increase of people buying puppies online, pet scams are more common than ever before. 

If you’re looking to buy a pet, especially a dog, thinking you’ve found the right one, paying for it, and not getting it is probably one of the worst things you can imagine. 

But, how can you know who to trust? Keep reading for the answer.

Essential Information on Pet Scams

Statistics show that around 80% of puppy-selling sites and online profiles are fake. Other animals are also a part of scams, but puppy sales are most affected. 

Cat scams are also a big problem, but they function the same as the puppy ones. So, we’ll focus on puppies — but everything we mention can be applied to cat scams, as well.

To avoid falling victim to these scams, and to actually get the puppy you want, read on.

What’s a Puppy Scam?

Puppy scams include people trying to sell you puppies that are not what the sellers claim they are. More precisely, there are three main types of pet scams:

  1. Scammers trying to sell the puppies they don’t even have. This is the most common scam online.
  2. Breeders selling sick pets with underlying problems. The pets usually come from the infamous pet mills, where dogs are bred without any health-related control
  3. Pet shipping scam, where breeders ask you to pay for non-existent shipping features. These can often be puppy adoption scams too, where scammers offer a puppy for free if you only pay for shipping. In reality, the puppy doesn’t exist. 

With so many scammers on the market, it’s essential to stay safe by following some rules.

How to Spot a Puppy Scammer?

To be able to see the difference between a scammer and a reputable breeder, you should pay attention to the following red flags:

1. Isn’t interested in direct contact

If the seller doesn’t want to contact you in any other way than by email, rest assured they are trying to scam you. Scammers prefer email because it allows them more time to construct their replies and avoid giving you any actual info.

2. Posts sketchy pictures

Pictures that look too generic, as if they could be found on any other site, are usually a sign of puppy scams

Scammers will also take realistic photos from somebody else’s site. In fact, the whole listing can be copied, so be sure to check their validity. Google reverse image search works wonders for this.

3. Offers unbelievably low price

A price that’s a lot lower than the market average is always a sign of a dog scam. No accredited breeder who takes care of their dogs will lower the price below a certain point. With pet ownership numbers rising all the time, they don’t have the reason to do so.

This is why paying $300 for a puppy that is normally worth $1,000 is impossible. 

4. Uses odd payment methods

Sellers that ask you to pay with Venmo, gift cards, and similar unsafe payment methods are not to be trusted and are definitely a part of puppy sale scams. Once you pay, you won’t be able to get your money back. 

Especially avoid sellers that ask for full payment upfront.  

5. Sells the puppy too easily

Genuine breeders will want to know more about you. They want their puppies to go to a good home and be compatible with their new owners. 

Online puppy scams will most often include breeders that are ready to sell the puppy to anybody who will pay as soon as possible.

6. Asks for additional shipping costs

The puppy shipping scam is one of the most common ways of getting money from innocent buyers. Sellers will claim there are additional shipping fees, such as air-conditioning, extra tickets, and similar. And they’ll expect you to pay for them.

A pet delivery scam can happen with both regular scammers and some unreliable breeders.

Keep in mind that most states do not have any additional costs when shipping a puppy. Still, if you’re interested in buying a puppy, it’s always a good idea to check the laws. 

7. Using an anonymous shipping company

If the seller uses a shipping company you’ve never heard about, it’s probably one of the fake pet shipping companies. There are many false shipping companies, and if your seller is using one, they are trying to scam you.

What to Do if You Notice a Scammer?

If you run into a scammer looking to cheat you into buying puppies or get away with puppy shipping scams, you should stop contacting them immediately. 

You can report a puppy scammer to sites tracking scams in the online pet market and prevent them from hurting somebody else. If they’re on a pet e-market, report them to the site, too.

Where Pet Scammers Can Be Found

Scammers can be found everywhere on the internet, but there are some specific places you should be aware of. Besides the sites you can see in our puppy scammer list for 2021 at the end of the article, these are some usual culprits:

Social Media

Unfortunately, social media and buying/selling sites are not the best places to buy your long-wanted puppy. Puppy scams on Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks are flourishing. 

Scammers can create many different accounts, close the ones that get banned, and delete the negative comments reviewing them. 

This means that you cannot check anything about the seller — nor do anything if you get scammed. 

Advertisement sites, such as Craigslist, where anybody can market the product without any supervision or background checks are also a place where many scammers try their luck. 

Craigslist puppy scams have been out of control for some time. Many pet owners have been tricked. Craigslist doesn’t control the sales and doesn’t guarantee any kind of protection. This is why puppy scams there are pretty common. 

This doesn’t mean that all offers are scams, but make sure to do your own research if you find a seller there.

Commercial E-Marketplaces

No e-markets that sell consumer goods will allow selling dogs. So, if you find a dog on eBay and similar sites, it’s probably a scam. 

Big marketplaces like eBay cannot control every seller and item. Sometimes, a scammer may try to sell a puppy there besides strict rules.

Guide on How to Safely Buy a Puppy Online

With the number of online scams increasing, it’s important to know how to recognize an actual breeder. So, let’s start.

Where to Shop?

Now that we know buying a dog on Craigslist is not safe, where can you safely buy a dog? 

The best, but most expensive sellers, are Kennel Clubs. They are completely legit, come with certificates, and you can be sure you’ll get your pet in good health.

Buying a dog from other places online always comes with a dose of insecurity. However, pet-only e-markets are a good place to start. These sites often have verified pets you can choose from. 

If you can, the best way to avoid pet shipping scams is to buy from a breeder you can visit in person, actually see the puppy, and pick it up personally when the time comes.

How to Know if a Dog Breeder Is Legitimate?

To make sure you’ll get the real deal, these are the steps you should take:

1. Research more about the breeder and look at the reviews.

Before you even contact a breeder, you should see what you can find about them online. Looking them up on a puppy scammer list is the first thing you should do. 

Reading reviews is also a good place to start, as it allows you to see how other people handled the process of buying a puppy. 

2. Check out their documentation

You should always ask for certification from their kennel, which proves that they are actually breeders. If they don’t have it, they’re most likely scammers.

But how to tell if AKC papers are real? They can be faked, but you can always contact the kennel and check if the breeder is legit or not.

3. Talk to them on the phone or by video call

Breeders that only communicate by email or messages are not worth your time. Breeders you can talk to on the phone or video call are more often than not, legit. By talking on video calls, you can even ask to see the puppy. 

This is, of course, not foolproof. Still, if they refuse any type of communication besides email and messages, they are certainly a part of the internet puppy scams.

Meeting the breeder in person is the safest, but it’s not always possible.

4. Ask them questions

Real breeders will be more than happy to answer all the questions you might have. Knowing your favorite breed characteristics is essential. This way, you can ask the right questions. 

You should ask them about the puppy you’re trying to buy, their personality, family traits, certifications they have, and everything else you would like to know.

They will probably ask you questions as well, to find out more about you. Scammers, on the other hand, are not interested in this.

5. Sign contracts

How to not get scammed buying a puppy online? Ask the breeder for a contract. A respected breeder will most likely accept it if not offer it themselves. 

This way, you’ll be protected against any problems that might occur.

6. Never pay for everything in advance

Paying a total price for a puppy in advance is not a safe choice. 

Genuine breeders will ask for a deposit but never ask for a total price before you get your puppy.

The Ultimate Puppy Scammer List 2021

Finally, here are some sites you should definitely avoid. Check out our list if you suspect that a site is a scam. 

  • Ace Land Dachshunds —
  • Atlantic Border Collies —
  • Au Cavoodles —
  • AU Puppies —
  • Australian Paradise —
  • Bella Staffies —
  • Border Collie — 
  • Boyle De Clan Cavoodle Home —
  • Brian Maxi Chihuahuas — 
  • Bright Golden Retrievers —
  • Cavapoo Avenue —
  • Cavoodle Loves — 
  • Champion Border Collie —
  • Class Golden Retriever Home — 
  • Classy Puppy Home — 
  • Cocker Spaniel Pup — 
  • Cute Cavoodle Pups —
  • Cute Labradoodle —
  • Cute Puppy Home —
  • Dior Golden Retriever Puppies —
  • Dog Rescue Inc —
  • Dominion Cocker Spaniel Kennel —
  • Elite Mini Dachshunds —
  • Elite Westie Puppies —
  • Excellent TeaCup Puppies —
  • Glamour Bassets Puppy Home —
  • Golden Breeders Home —
  • Happy Poodle Farm —
  • Healthy Shih-Tzu & Pomeranian Puppies Home —
  • Home of Golden Retrieve —
  • Ideal Maltese Home —
  • Jack Russel for me —
  • Jack Russell Paradise —
  • JJ Maltese Cross —
  • King Labrador Retrievers —
  • Labrador Golden Retrievers — labrador—
  • Labrador Puppies Kingdom —
  • Magic Chihuahua —
  • Maltese and minipuppies —
  • Mike’s Labradors —
  • MinPin Palace —
  • Onetime Pitbull Puppies —
  • Oz Labradoodles —
  • Puppy Crush Café —
  • PuppySanctuary —
  • Rock Star Golden Doodle Cattery —
  • Royal Cavoodle Puppies —
  • Royal Pups Malshies —
  • Sara French Bulldog Puppies —
  • Schnoodle 4 Home Puppies —
  • Shih Tzu Puppies 4 Us —
  • Simone Pomeranian — 
  • Splendid Border Collie Kennel —
  • Splendid Westie Puppies —
  • Spotlight Miniature Schnauzer Kennel —
  • Sunlight Pomsky Puppies Home —
  • Supreme Border Collie Kennel —
  • Toy Maltipoo Puppies —
  • Up Hill Puppy Farm —
  • Wakah French Bulldogs —
  • We love Cavoodles —
  • Westies Puppies —
  • William King Charles Home —
  • Woodland Border Collies —
  • Zeus Puppys —


How do I know if my puppy breeder is legit?

To know if your puppy breeder is legit, do your research. Read the reviews other people have posted about them. Search for them on scam tracking sites to check if somebody had already reported them.

Contact them by phone or video call, ask them questions they should be able to answer. Ask to see the puppy on a video call. 

In the end, check with their Kennel Club to see if they are really breeders. If everything is right, the puppy breeder is legit.

How do I buy a dog online without getting scammed?

Buying a dog online without getting scammed is not that hard if you are careful and take your time. Most scams actually happen because people are too impatient to do proper research.

So, how to buy a dog online safely? By researching, contacting the seller through video calls, asking important questions, and checking their qualification. If possible, it’s best to meet them in person.

Do reputable breeders ship puppies?

They do, but not for a long flight, and not to everybody. Most reputable breeders don’t ship puppies, but with COVID-19 lockdowns, the situation has slightly changed. The problem is finding a reputable breeder over all the puppy scams online.

A reputable breeder will also make sure that everything is perfect when shipping puppies. The shipping company must be trustworthy, they must get to know the buyer, and the trip cannot last for a long time.

But not all breeders like shipping puppies, and not all puppies can be shipped.

How do pet scams work?

Scammers create sites or profiles on advertisement sites/social media and offer puppies for sale. When you contact them by message or email, they ask for the full amount before sending the puppy to you.

However, you’ll most likely never see the puppy. If you do, the puppy will not be healthy. 

What to do if you get scammed online for a dog?

If you get scammed online, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do. Since scammers don’t use official payment methods, such as credit cards, you are unlikely to get your money back. You can report them to the police, but they are rarely found.

Reporting them to a scam tracker site is the only thing you can do to help others not get scammed.

Final Thoughts

In the end, it’s discouraging to see how these scams function and how many of them there are. With so many of them on the market, choosing the right breeder might seem like a challenge. 

So, we hope this article helped you see how to buy a puppy online safely — and you can do it by avoiding all the scammers whose only interest is your money.


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