Dog experts have issued a warning to the future dog owners in the North West after a worrying increase in ‘virtual puppy buying’ during the pandemic.

According to new research by The Kennel Club as part of its #BePuppywise campaign, almost a third of people (32 per cent) surveyed in the North West admit that it’s ‘normal’ and ‘easier’ to meet a puppy virtually, rather than in person.

The research also found that 25 per cent of people in the North West struggled to find a dog in lockdown – something that scammers and puppy breeders will have preyed upon.

Buying a dog virtually leaves more room for scammers and puppy farmers to disguise “horrific breeding conditions” and trick future pet owners.

Worryingly, the research shows that these habits might be here to stay, as a third of owners in the region ‘clicked and collected’ a new pet, without meeting it prior, or had their dog delivered to their door; almost three quarter (74 per cent of owners) admit they would buy a dog in the same way again.

Whilst Covid-19 restrictions once forced virtual meetings and puppy deliveries, over one in ten (14 per cent) owners in the North West now agree that ‘click and collect’ – buying a puppy online and paying before meeting or collecting it – is the norm when buying a puppy post-lockdown, reversing years of campaigning to change behaviour and opposing new puppy buying and selling laws introduced by Government last year.

Now, almost a quarter (24 per cent) don’t think it’s essential to collect a puppy and see it interacting with its mum, in its home environment, if they’re located more than two hours away.

Almost one in four (22 per cent) owners in the North West spent less than two hours researching their new puppy and where they would get it from, amidst soaring demand, rife scams and more widespread impulse buying during the pandemic.

17 per cent admit not finding a reputable source of advertised puppies, relying on internet chatter or social media.

“It’s understandable that many of us may have developed some fairly harmless bad habits during multiple lockdowns, such as ordering one too many takeaways, getting up late or having multiple deliveries to our doors,” commented Mark Beazley, Chief Executive of The Kennel Club. “But when it comes to puppy buying, these bad habits must be reversed.

“Whilst the message about always seeing a puppy with its mum, in its home environment, seemed to have finally got through and was reinforced in new laws in 2020, this research shows the pandemic’s alarming impact on the way people expect to buy a puppy, with many now seeing virtual puppy buying, ‘click and collect’ or pup deliveries as the norm - taking us backwards in terms of dog welfare and responsible puppy buying.

“Of course there is nothing wrong with seeing an advert for a puppy online, but we’re urging potential owners to ‘be puppywise’ and always then see the puppy interacting with its mum, in its home environment in real life, as lockdown restrictions are no longer in place. If a breeder is offering to deliver the pup to your house or asking to take money from you before you’ve even seen the pup, alarm bells should be ringing.

“Scammers, rogue breeders and cruel puppy traders can, and will, cash in on this dangerous virtual puppy buying world, with devastating consequences for dogs.”

Social, newsletters, subscriptions and getting in touch...

You can follow the Lancashire Telegraph on social media, by joining us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

We also have dedicated Facebook groups on Crime & Court, Traffic & Travel, Nostalgia and our Lancashire Family page

If you want to make sure you don't miss the most important news stories every day, sign up to one of our free e-mail newsletters 

Gain unlimited access to the Lancashire Telegraph website with a premium digital subscription - we are running a £2 for two months special offer

Or if you want the Telegraph newspaper delivered to your door, get in touch with our home delivery team or call us on 0800 953 0227

Finally, have you got a story for us? If so, contact our newsdesk at or by using our online contribution form