- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie
Dogs Trust have said thousands of people are scammed every year into buying puppies who have serious health conditions or lifelong behavioural challenges, with some dying quickly after being purchased.
The charity found one in eight puppy buyers suspect they were lied to by the seller of their puppy.
Using catfishing as its inspiration, Dogs Trust have launched the campaign "Don't Be Dogfished" - warning dog lovers of deceitful puppy sellers online, with a 'fake' puppy smuggling van touring the UK.
Here's how you can avoid getting scammed when buying a dog.
- Meet the pup's family at the home you're buying from
Ask to see the puppy interacting with its mum and littermates when you visit.
Never meet anywhere that isn't the puppy's home to be sure to meet the dog where they were born.
But unscrupulous breeders have been known to rent houses to make it look picture perfect. Dogs Trust recommend you take a look at the surroundings when you visit - does it look like a dog lives there?
- Visit the home more than once before buying your new dog
If you visit the home more than once, you can make sure that the puppy looks healthy, including clean eyes, ears and bottom.
If the puppy is unwell, collect them another day. If they are still ill then do not take them home and try another breeder.
- Talk to the seller and ask lots of questions
Buying a puppy is a big financial outlay. Ask lots of questions and call ahead and talk to the seller before visiting.
But also be expected to be asked questions from the seller too.
The reputable seller will want to know answers to the kind of environment the dog will be brought up in. If they are not asking questions be cautious.
- Make sure you see all the important paperwork
When buying a dog, make sure you receive a full "puppy contract".
This will contain lots of vital information including the dog's family history as well as its health, diet, breed type and puppy's experiences.
- Is the Puppy Microchipped?
It is a legal requirement for all breeders of puppies to microchip and register their own details prior to sale.
It is also against the law for a breeder not to micochip the puppy. The microchip must also be registered to the breeder and it is considered an offence if they offer to chip and register directly in your name.
- If in doubt, walk away
As difficult as it may be, if you feel something is not right, or you're being extremely pressured into buying, it is best to walk away and report the seller as soon as possible.
- Report any suspicious behaviour
If you suspect a seller is acting illegally, report them to Trading Standards.