Scoping Research on the Sourcing of Pet Dogs from Illegal Importation and Puppy Farms 2016-2017

Tanya Wyatt, Jennifer Maher, Paul Biddle

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review

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Dogs are the most popular companion animals in the UK; for many people, they offer companionship, support and a special emotional bond. For others, however, dogs are a lucrative source of income. Evidence from key national and international animal welfare non-government organisations [NGO], supports stakeholder (such as the British Veterinary Association [BVA] 2014) concerns that the illegal and irresponsible puppy breeding and trade are escalating. Central to these concerns are the UK and international large-scale commercial breeders and the largely uncontrolled third party online traders who now appear to dominate the puppy trade: effectively creating a sea change in UK puppy trade. The aim of this report is to present existing and new empirical evidence on the scale, nature and value of the illegal and irresponsible puppy trade, with a particular focus on the role of breeders, traders, consumers and enforcement agencies in the trade. We aimed to answer two central questions: 1) What are the nature, extent and value of legal and illegal puppy sales in the UK? and 2) What improvements can be made at each part of the trade to help prevent the international illegal trade of puppies and unregistered puppy farms? In order to answer these research questions and thus propose interventions and solutions to improve the status quo, a mixed-methods research design was employed consisting of a literature review, collection and analysis of 12 weeks of online puppy advertisement data in Scotland, data collection from Trading Standards Scotland and TRACES (the Trade Control and Expert System), 12 expert interviews, 53 stakeholder surveys and 40 focus groups including a total of 160 puppy owners.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherScottish Government
Commissioning bodyScottish Government
Number of pages151
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78851-413-2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameSocial Research Series
PublisherScottish Government
ISSN (Electronic)2045-6964


  • animal abuse
  • dog breeding and sale
  • puppy trade
  • illegal puppy trade
  • organised crime
  • legislation
  • policy
  • response


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