Dogs Trust


How is that Doggie in the Window?”

Most people wouldn’t dream of buying their dog from a pet store anymore and thankfully, there are very few, if any, that still sell dogs in Ireland. In this digital era however, greedy, unscrupulous breeders are capitalising on other “shop front” windows - like websites, social media, classifieds and trade fairs - to churn out puppies for profit with no consideration for the welfare of mums and pups in their care.

Take action now to end the cruelty behind bad breeding

Ask the Irish government to change the laws, to stop the cruelty that goes on behind closed doors on puppy farms in Ireland.

Join the movement to end the cruelty behind bad breeding and help put an end this vile trade.

Take a closer look behind the shop front and ask the question “How is that Doggie in the Window?” Thousands of dogs and puppies on puppy farms across Ireland are crammed into crowded, filthy pens, with little or no bedding or natural sunlight. They suffer from the torments of cruel confinement, boredom, fear.

Mums are often locked away in horrendous conditions and kept as breeding machines, producing litter after litter for years on end and callously discarded when they get too old or are no longer of use. They never get to enjoy any sort of life as a beloved pet. Puppies are often taken away from their mums and siblings too soon, missing out on a crucial phase of their development, which can lead to behavioural issues for years to come.

But there is hope. Public pressure and changes in our nation’s attitudes toward animal cruelty has been recognised by our Government. The publication of the Dog Breeding Establishment (DBE) Guidelines in July of last year saw significant improvements made regarding the regulation of dogs and puppies being kept in breeding establishments.

You can tip the balance. Sign the petition to ask Minister of State Sean Canney, with responsibility for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development to keep his promise to review and strengthen the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010 in 2019, which will see tougher enforcement and prosecution where breeders fail to comply.

The first 28,000 signatures have been sent to Minister Canney showing him the massive support for strengthening the laws to tackle bad breeding. We are pleased that Minister Canney has made a commitment to review the Dog Breeding Establishment Act and hopes to have the legislation process ready to bring to Chamber by the end of the year.. But we need to keep the pressure on and momentum going on this important issue.

Your compassion and your voice can help spare beautiful dogs from a lifetime of anguish!

Read more

A puppy farm is a place where dogs are being intensively bred for profit, without having due consideration for the welfare of mums and pups.

Sadly there is a continued demand for pedigree and “designer” dogs in Ireland so greedy, unscrupulous breeders capitalise on this demand for the benefit of their pockets.

By signing the petition now, you will increase the pressure to clamp down on the puppy farming industry – and end the cruelty that puppies and dogs have to endure at these vile establishments.

Momentum is building to end this barbaric trade for good. There’s a growing awareness – and disgust – about puppy farms in Ireland. 36% of Irish households own a dog and so many more deeply care about animal welfare.

Ireland has been known as the Puppy Farming capital of Europe – a title that no one could be proud of.

This is your chance to speak up. Poor breeding practices are completely unacceptable. Appropriate licensing, monitoring and enforcement of the dog breeding industry is long overdue in Ireland. And the time for change is now.

We need to ensure that welfare standards are improved and tougher legislation will be put in place to protect these precious souls, restoring Ireland’s international reputation in this area.It’s not fair that these beautiful creatures are exploited, living a life of fear and torment at the hands of greedy breeders who are only interested in making money.

You can take action now.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about “How is that Doggie in the Window?”

 Dogs Trust wants to raise awareness and educate the public on the dangers behind bad breeding and how to do careful research if you are buying a dog, to help combat this vile trade.

  • 74% of people admitted that they would be deterred from buying a dog if they knew it was coming from a puppy farm
  • However 45% of buyers didn’t take any steps to ensure their dog didn’t come from a puppy farm
  • 39% didn’t visit their puppy before taking him home
  • 21% of people admitted that their dog was either delivered to their door or they met in a neutral location such as a car park

To reinforce our message, we have created a window display on one of Dublin’s most popular streets, South William Street. The display demonstrates the stark reality of where your new puppy could actually come from or be right now, in many cases an overcrowded, cold, dark puppy farm.

We also sent out advent calendars to members of the public, TDs, Senators, journalists, bloggers and other media personnel, which feature 25 dogs that were recently rescued from an irresponsible breeder and taken into our safe care. These dogs represent the thousands of dogs, mums and puppies that suffer at the hands of cruel breeding practices every day in Ireland.

All 25 were scared little dogs, mostly cocker spaniels and some French bulldogs – all female. Their excessively long fur hung in filthy tangled mats from their bodies. Some of them had painful and itchy skin, others had ear and eye infections. They were all in need of help, but one dog stood out from the rest – Aggie, who seemed to be the mum in most distress. She had completely shut down.

This beautiful little cocker spaniel had a metal bowl in her mouth and was spinning in wild circles. You may find it hard to believe, but that was her way of trying to cope with the stress and anxiety of living in the conditions she had been subjected to. As a breed, cocker spaniels need plenty of exercise but Aggie had been getting none. It is thought that she may have been cooped up in a tiny, dark space day after day. Maybe never hearing a kind word from anybody, or getting a loving pat on the head. She coped the only way she knew how, by spinning and pacing constantly. Thankfully Aggie has now found her Forever Home and is getting all the love and attention she craved all her life however sadly there are many more dogs out there that have not been so fortunate and will live out the rest of their lives in vile conditions.

There are many ways that you can help. We always encourage people who are thinking of buying a dog to please consider adoption first as there are so many beautiful dogs looking for homes in local rescue centres and Local Authority pounds. If you do decide to buy a dog please do very careful research about the breeder and breed of dog, and follow our useful tips on what to consider if you want a puppy.

What do I need to consider if I want a puppy?


Having a bouncy, happy, playful puppy is a very enjoyable experience. However it is also a big commitment, demanding in time, money and care. Remember, a puppy will grow into a dog and will be with you for many years to come.

Before you bring home a new puppy, you should ask yourself whether you are the right human for your furry friend! Will a dog or puppy fit in well with your family? Have you or your children got allergies? Do your children know how to ‘Be Dog Smart’ – see for more information. Do you have any other pets? Will they get on with a new dog or puppy?

You will need:


Dogs can live to be 13 years of age or older – are you ready for such a big commitment?

They need to be walked, most for at least 30 minutes twice a day.

Dogs need your company and don’t enjoy spending time on their own for very long.

Puppies need training, have you time for this?


Can you afford to look after a dog? Your dog will need dog food, a bed, toys, vaccinations, to be neutered, a collar and lead, grooming, vet checks and possible emergency procedures that could cost over €1,500.

You may want to consider pet insurance which could cost over €200 a year.


Puppies are small and cuddly but grow bigger every day.

Carefully choose a dog breed according to the space you have in your house and garden.

If you rent your home now and have to move, will your new landlord permit pets?

Are you comfortable with the possibility of having items chewed and dog hair in your home?

Please click here for our downloadable leaflet advice on getting a puppy.

Where should I get a puppy?

Why buy a puppy when there are thousands of lovely, unwanted and abandoned dogs in need of homes at dog rescue centres all around Ireland? If you adopt a puppy from Dogs Trust, we are there to offer help and advice for the rest of your dog’s life, should you need it. Dogs Trust puppies are fully vaccinated, wormed, microchipped, neutered when old enough and in every adoption pack you will receive; a collar and lead and six weeks pet insurance. But, if you still wish to buy a puppy from a breeder, ask your vet if they know of any reputable ones.

Always call a breeder first and try to visit before the puppies are born. When you see a litter of cute puppies in front of you it’s easy to let your emotions take over and forget all the questions you had ready and it can be difficult to say “no” to a puppy which may in reality be unsuitable for you or has come from a puppy farm. It’s helpful to write your questions down before calling or visiting a breeder.

Here are our top tips to help you take home a happy and healthy puppy:

  1. Visit the breeder at least twice before making the final collection. The breeder should allow you to handle the puppies each time you visit.
  2. Make sure you see the puppy interacting with the rest of the litter and their mother.
  3. A puppy is not ready to leave its mother before it is 8 weeks old.
  4. Check that the puppies have regular access to human contact – ideally the puppies are being raised in a home environment so that they become familiar with everyday sights, smells and sounds. (See below for why socialisation and habituation are so important for young pups*)
  5. Has the puppy been wormed and vaccinated - some breeders will get puppies their first vaccination at 6-8 weeks of age before releasing them to their new owners. The vaccination certificate needs to be stamped and signed by a vet, otherwise it could be fake.
  6. Ask if the puppies or their parents have had any health issues
  7. Check that the puppy’s parents have been tested for hereditary diseases. If no certificates are available go to another breeder. If you need help understanding the results, ask your vet.
  8. Check whether the facilities appear clean and the puppies seem alert and healthy. There should be no discharge from its eyes or nose or any sores, bald patches or scabs on the skin. The puppies should be alert and show no obvious signs of illness such as coughing.
  9. Ensure all the relevant paperwork is available for inspection when you visit the puppy. This should include a vaccination certificate, a health check report from a vet, a Pedigree or Kennel Club certificate (if a registered breed).
  10. All puppies must be microchipped by the age of 12 weeks or when transferring ownership, whichever comes first. As such all puppies must be accompanied with a microchipping certificate and both buyer and seller must complete the transfer of ownership form.
  11. Ask the breeder about the characteristics of the breed to ensure they are suitable for your family and lifestyle and why they breed this type of dog?
  12. Ask what vet the mother is registered with.
  13. If possible, request a written agreement that the purchase is subject to a satisfactory examination by your vet within 48 hours of purchase.

Remember, a Pedigree or Kennel Club certificate does not guarantee a perfect puppy - it’s up to you to carry out the appropriate checks above. If your puppy appears unwell on collection, do not take it. Arrange with the breeder to return another day. If you have any doubts, choose another breeder.

It is well established that the experience of puppies in their first 16 weeks of life will have lasting effects on their behaviour and health. The quality of experiences for puppies within rehoming centres will therefore have a major impact on their lifelong quality of life and rehoming outcomes. Both social (including other dogs, people and other animals) and non-social (including scents, sounds, objects and different environments) are important – all introduced carefully so every puppy finds each new experience positive.

Early socialisation means letting young puppies get used to other dogs/humans/other animals and to learn proper doggy communication skills so that they can get on happily with other dogs in the future. Habituation is teaching your puppy that people, other animals, new experiences, objects and situations are nothing to be scared of. Both are imperative to ensuring a well rounded dog. If a puppy is not socialised and habituated properly from a very young age and for the first year of his life, this can lead to serious behavioural issues in later life.

Please click here for our downloadable leaflet advice on getting a puppy

What Red Flags should I watch out for if buying a puppy?
  1. If the breeder asks to meet you away from the house, such as in a car park or at the side of the road, this is a warning sign!
  2. The seller asks you which puppy you have come to see. This may be an indication they have different breeds available and the home is potentially just a front.
  3. Puppies that are for sale and delivery before they reach 8 weeks of age.
  4. Puppies should not have docked tails or cropped ears – (please report to the ISPCA if they do and do not buy the puppy).
  5. Advertisements for puppies from breeders that frequently advertise different litters in news paper classifieds, or listed on the internet.
  6. Descriptions for puppies may also have been used multiple times. Copy and paste them into Google to see if they have been used on other adverts.
  7. A breeder who has multiple different breeds for sale.
  8. Reluctance to ask you questions or answer any you have – a reputable breeder will be interested in you and your family to ensure their puppy has a nice life.
  9. It is illegal for any dog to be sold without a valid microchipping certificate – do not accept offers of any paperwork being posted at a later date!
  10. If in doubt, follow your gut instinct. If you suspect a puppy has come from an unscrupulous breeder, please do not buy the puppy. You may be saving a dog but you will be fuelling this vile trade.

Please click here for our downloadable leaflet advice on getting a puppy.

What is a puppy farm?

A puppy farm is where dogs are bred intensively for profit with little or no thought being given to their welfare.

For people who decide to buy rather than adopt a puppy, how do they avoid puppy farms?

Unscrupulous breeders are difficult to identify, often posing as members of the public selling “puppies from unplanned litters”, so we would suggest that you ask your local vet for recommendations on reputable breeders.

Most reputable breeders do not advertise their dogs online, in newspaper adverts, pet shops or trade fairs. Anyone who sees an animal for sale in any of these places or anywhere outside their normal breeding environments such as car parks, petrol stations etc. should be very suspicious.

Always ask to see the puppy interacting with its mother and be concerned if excuses are made as to why you can’t. Ensure the litter looks clean, healthy and alert.

You should be able to handle the puppies freely under supervision. Make sure your puppy is old enough to leave its mother – at least 8 weeks old.

Check paperwork and be suspicious if previous owner details have been removed or disguised.

Always ask for a copy of its veterinary records, including vaccination certificate stamped by the Vet practice, and records of worming and flea treatment.

For pedigree puppies, ensure that the Irish Kennel Club registration papers and the parents’ hereditary disease screening certificates, where appropriate, are in order.

If you suspect a puppy has come from a puppy farm, please do not buy it. You may be saving a dog but you’ll be fueling this vile trade.

If you do decide to look online for a puppy, please ensure the website has been approved by the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group (IPAAG) of which Dogs Trust are founding welfare members. Further information about IPAAG and minimum welfare standards is available on


What is IPAAG?


Minister Simon Coveney launched the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group (IPAAG) Minimum Standards for online classified advertising websites in April 2015.

Leading Irish animal welfare organisations, representatives from the veterinary profession and websites advertising pets for sale launched the ground breaking and progressive IPAAG Minimum Standards to improve the welfare of the thousands of pets advertised online on a weekly basis.

The online sale of pets has been identified as a significant problem with rogue breeders breaking the law and in many cases compromising the welfare of the animals being offered for sale. In the absence of a ban, which would result in adverts appearing on unregulated websites likely based outside Ireland, it would make dealing with animal welfare issues extremely difficult and would do nothing to prevent the over production of puppies. 

IPAAG introduced a set of minimum standards for websites to ensure that the welfare of animals sold online is protected and that any illegal activity is identified and investigated. In addition to providing standards for the online advertising of animals for sale, IPAAG also provide an opportunity for the buyer to be educated on what criteria to use to identify a responsible breeder. Online websites that comply with the standards will provide links to which will include information for the safe purchase of healthy dogs, cats, equines and exotic animals.

What issues might a puppy from a puppy farm/unscrupulous breeder have?

Puppy farmed dogs can suffer from physical and behavioural problems as a result of poor breeding and lack of exposure to regular handling, a normal home environment and everyday noises like hoovers and dishwashers and people coming and going etc.

Poor breeding can lead to all sorts of veterinary issues, including hip dysplasia, breathing difficulties, heavy parasite burden, chronic ear, eye and skin conditions, not to mention the potentially fatal Parvovirus.

Parvovirus – can be fatal but cost up to €1,500 to treat and often results in death

Worms – can be fatal but if it causes bad diarrhoea requiring a drip it could cost €500

Hip dysplasia – two total hip replacements could cost €7,000

Patella luxation (dislocating knee-caps) – surgery on both knees would cost €1,500

Congenital heart problems – if surgery required could cost €5,000-6,000

How can people tell if their dog comes from a puppy farm?

Many people will never know that their dog came from a puppy farm as it is very rare for them to actually see where their dog was bred. If you got your dog from an advert on the internet or a newspaper, a pet shop or garden centre and you did not visit the premises where the puppy was born to see them interacting with their mum and littermates, there is a chance that your dog was bred at a puppy farm.

Unfortunately some unscrupulous breeders are using what’s known as the ‘shop front strategy’ where a nice home is being used, often in a rural location and although the puppy is presented as having been raised there, there is no sign of the puppy’s Mum. Excuses will be made for her absence, such as she has been taken for a walk. Another ploy is to use a ‘fake’ Mum so it’s important to see the puppy and Mum interacting and see their relationship.

What advice do you have for anybody thinking of getting a dog this Christmas or in general?

Christmas is not a good time to take on a new dog, especially a puppy, as they will crave attention and comfort and you may just not have the time to provide this at a busy time like Christmas. Christmas is also a time when there tends to be lots of forbidden foods and decorations within reach!

As cute as they are, puppies are rascals and can be extremely hard work for an owner, particularly if there are young children in the house – do you have enough time to spend with your pup?

Dogs don’t come fully trained. They can potentially cause a lot of damage to your possessions through chewing and accidents. How committed are you to training your dog?

Owning a dog is a long-term commitment. The average dog lives for 13 years.

Dogs aren’t cheap to care for. You should expect to spend around €10,000 over his lifetime depending on the size of the dog.

Dogs Trust coined the phrase A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas, 40 years ago and we are still urging people to think carefully about the type of dog they want and to be extremely selective about whom and where they buy it from. It is vital that people undertake as much research as possible to ensure they obtain a healthy legally bred dog and to avoid the unnecessary costs associated with buying at the ‘click of the mouse’.

Why is Socialisation and Habituation so important for dogs?

It is well established that the experience of puppies in their first 16 weeks of life will have lasting effects on their behaviour and health. The quality of experiences for puppies within rehoming centres will therefore have a major impact on their lifelong quality of life and rehoming outcomes. Both social (including other dogs, people and other animals) and non-social (including scents, sounds, objects and different environments) are important – all introduced carefully so every puppy finds each new experience positive.

Early socialisation means letting young puppies get used to other dogs/humans/other animals and to learn proper doggy communication skills so that they can get on happily with other dogs in the future. Habituation is teaching your puppy that people, other animals, new experiences, objects and situations are nothing to be scared of. Both are imperative to ensuring a well rounded dog. If a puppy is not socialised and habituated properly from a very young age and for the first year of his life, this can lead to serious behavioural issues in later life.

What kind of conditions are puppies and their mums kept in on puppy farms?

Breeding bitches at puppy farms:

-Are kept in small pens without natural daylight or contact with other dogs

-They suffer the mental cruelty of having little contact with people and having no space to exercise or opportunity to play

-Are bred from continuously in these conditions until they are too old, then discarded

Conditions in these puppy farms are often crowded, dirty and poorly lit. The dogs sleep on bare floors with little or no bedding. The breeding bitches have a litter at every season (often two litters a year), nursing litter after litter until they are physically exhausted.

A puppy farmed puppy could have genetic or other health problems relating to its poor breeding conditions. It could also have behavioural problems as a result of being taken from its mother at too young an age. The stress and anxiety of a Mum can be passed to her puppy causing behaviour issues in the future.

Beautiful rescue Mums like these will never be your ‘average’ dog and will take a huge amount of commitment, as well as hard work, and patience to help them grow into happy, well rounded dogs, and they may still never be the most confident dogs but with your help and Dogs Trust support we can highlight what happens to these forgotten Mums in Puppy Farms. We rescue and give Mums like these the best fresh start to their new lives.

What is the Dog Breeding Establishment (DBE) Act 2010?

Dog breeding in Ireland is regulated by the Dog Breeding Establishment (DBE) Act 2010. All breeders with 6 or more female dogs of 6 months of age and capable of breeding must be registered with the Local Authority.

We are calling on Minister of State Sean Canney, with responsibility for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development, to address issues that go beyond the scope of the Guidelines and review the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010 this year.

The amended Act should introduce a number of robust measures to clamp down on puppy farms that put profits before the welfare of the dogs in their care.

Dogs Trust believe that in order to ensure the protection of puppies and dogs in Ireland, the definition of a DBE must be amended so that the registered number of breeding bitches is reduced from six to three. A breeding bitch is any unneutered female dog of more than 6 months old. This would encompass a larger number of breeders having to register for a licence with the Department, which would in turn cast a wider net for inspections.

We would like to see amendments to the Act that would make it an offence in failing to comply and prosecutions where conditions of their licence have not been met in failing to comply with an improvement notice issued by the local authority.

Click here for the full Act.

What are the Dog Breeding Establishment (DBE) Guidelines?

The Dog Breeding Establishment Act of 2010 was enacted in 2012 and is underpinned by the DBE Guidelines. The Department of Rural and Community Development recently opened the Guidelines for review and revision through a consultation process. Dogs Trust as well as other welfare organisations fed into this consultation process with our recommendations, many of which have been taken on board and are now published in the new Guidelines.

Click here for more information on the recent publication of the guidelines.


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Dogs Trust company limited by Guarantee. Registered in Dublin, Ireland under company no. 396919. Reg Office: Ashbourne Road, Finglas, Dublin 11.