Dogs Trust

How is that Doggie in the Window?

We are urging the public to question "How is that Doggie in the Window?" before buying a puppy.

Research found that 45% of people didn’t take any steps to ensure their dog didn’t come from a puppy farm

Today we launched a poignant campaign entitled "How is that Doggie in the Window?" to highlight the upsetting reality behind irresponsible dog breeding in Ireland and to help educate member of the public on how they can take action to effect change.

Recent research conducted by Behaviours and Attitudes on our behalf found that 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 one. 39% didn’t visit their puppy before taking him/her home with an astonishing 21% of dog owners surveyed admitting that their dog was either delivered to their door or they met in a neutral location such as a car park*.

To support our campaign and reinforce our message, we have created an attention grabbing 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, which in many cases can be an overcrowded, cold, dark puppy farm.

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 companion animal. 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.

This morning, we sent out hundreds of Advent calendars to members of the public, TDs, Senators, journalists, bloggers and other media personnel, which features 25 dogs that were recently rescued from an irresponsible breeder and are now in the safe care of Dogs Trust. These dogs represent the thousands of dogs, mums and puppies that suffer at the hands of cruel breeding practices every day.

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 members of the public can help. We would always encourage people who are looking to buy a dog to consider adoption first as there are so many incredible dogs looking for homes in local rescue centres and Local Authority pounds throughout Ireland. If you do decide to buy a dog please do careful research about the breeder and breed of dog, and follow the charity’s useful tips on what to consider if you want a puppy.

We are urging people to sign a petition to help end the cruelty behind bad breeding, calling on Minister of State Sean Canney, with responsibility for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development, to review the Dog Breeding Establishment (DBE) Act 2010 as a matter of urgency. 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.

Speaking about the campaign, Executive Director, Dogs Trust, Suzie Carley said: It is distressing to think about the harrowing life that some dogs and young pups have to endure as a result of poor breeding practices in Ireland. Dogs Trust have cared for the most vulnerable dogs, including orphaned pups, nursing mums and pups, and heavily pregnant mums of various breeds following rescues, seizures and closures of Dog Breeding Establishments in Ireland. We see, first-hand, the devastating consequences when puppies have not been given adequate care or socialisation in the first few months of their lives. Many pups develop behavioral and health problems, which can present itself as fearful or aggressive behavior in later life. At times this can prove too costly or troublesome for people who have taken on a new puppy, without undertaking adequate research beforehand, and sadly we then see them coming through our doors. The heartbreak can ripple through the whole family if their new beloved puppy is struck down with sickness and becomes gravely ill.To protect the welfare of mums, pups, stud dogs, as well as consumers, who all fall victim to unscrupulous breeders, we must have a robust legislative framework, adequate resources provided to the Local Authorities for inspection and tougher enforcement and penalties for those who do not comply."

Find us on Facebook or follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DoggieInTheWindow

To find out more about how you can support this campaign log onto


  • Research was conducted by Behaviours and Attitudes on behalf of Dogs Trust and surveyed 1,000 dog owners
  • The 74% of people that admitted they would be deterred from buying a dog if they knew it was coming from a puppy farm, was taken from a sample of those who were aware of the term puppy farm.
  • The 45% of buyers who didn’t take any steps to ensure their dog didn’t come from a puppy farm was taken from a sample of those who did consider the possibility that their dog could have come from a puppy farm.
  • The 39% of people who didn’t visit their puppy before taking him/her home, all puppies were aged between 1-12 weeks. 

More about "How is that Doggie in the Window?"

The concept around "How is that Doggie in the Window?" campaign by Dogs Trust is to represent the many "shop front" windows that unscrupulous breeders can use to sell their dogs, such as the internet, social media, newspaper classifieds and trade fairs. The charity has played on the old rhyme "How Much is that Doggie In the Window?" and purposely omitted the "Must" so that people will now ask the important question of "How is That Doggie In The Window?" instead. Many people wouldn’t buy their dog from a pet shop anymore and thankfully there are very few, if any, that still sell dogs in Ireland. However as we evolve in this digital era, unscrupulous breeders are finding other "shop front" windows to sell dogs for a quick profit. It’s vital 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.

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

  • Visit the breeder at least twice before making the final collection. The breeder should allow you to handle the puppies each time you visit.
  • Make sure you see the puppy interacting with the rest of the litter and their mother.
  • A puppy is not ready to leave its mother before it is 8 weeks old.
  • 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*)
  • 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.

  • Ask if the puppies or their parents have had any health issues
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • Ask what vet the mother is registered with.

  • 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.

What Red Flags should I watch out for if buying a puppy?

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Puppies that are for sale and delivery before they reach 8 weeks of age.

  • Puppies should not have docked tails or cropped ears – (please report to the ISPCA if they do and do not buy the puppy).

  • Advertisements for puppies from breeders that frequently advertise different litters in news paper classifieds, or listed on the internet.

  • 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.

  • A breeder who has multiple different breeds for sale.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

Dogs Trust would urge all those seeking to buy a puppy/dog online to ensure the website has been approved by the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group (IPAAG) of which Dogs Trust are founding members. Further information about IPAAG and Minimum Welfare Standards is available on

**Dog Breeding Establishment 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. 

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. This would encompass a larger number of breeders having to register 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 with the conditions of the operator’s license and in failing to comply with an improvement notice issued by the Local Authority. 

We would also like to see the introduction of a standard licensing template for licence application, a requirement that in advance of a licence to operate being granted, the Local Authority shall visit/inspect the premises, and ensure that the breeder can produce: 1) all relevant planning permission for kennel / facility construction; 2) appropriate/approved programmes in place for socialisation and habituation of dogs and puppies.