Sick puppy of an illegal transport

Pandemic Pups

How unprecedented demand during the pandemic fuelled the illegal puppy trade in Europe – a FOUR PAWS report


In January 2022, FOUR PAWS commissioned a survey on puppy buying trends during the pandemic to better understand puppy buyers' motivations for purchasing a puppy, and their experiences doing so during this period.

The report summarises data collected from the survey and aims to highlight the factors that impacted the experience of puppy buyers, and how this links to, and influences, the activities of puppy dealers in Europe’s illegal unscrupulous puppy trade.

The survey was conducted by the Savanta research agency at the beginning of 2022 and was carried out in seven European countries where FOUR PAWS has an office including: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. Respondents were people who had purchased a puppy between the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and February 2022. 2,250 responses were collected across the seven countries.

Key findings 

  • Spending more time at home throughout the pandemic influenced a buyer’s decision to purchase a puppy
  • Main motivations for buying a puppy were to take care of a puppy, for company or for child-centred reasons
  • Most puppies were advertised on websites, including classified ad sites, or social media
  • When choosing a particular breed, buyers placed more importance on appearance than any other consideration
  • Buyers did not conduct sufficient research prior to purchasing a puppy
  • Legal requirements for selling puppies were disregarded by puppy sellers across all countries
  • Almost half of the puppies were brought home when too young, with over 25% of puppies less than seven weeks old
  • Almost a third of all puppies became sick after purchase
  • 4% of buyers no longer own their puppy, with most of those having purchased their puppy on social media
Pandemic Pups

Pandemic Pups

New FOUR PAWS report shows the issues buyers faced after purchasing a puppy since the start of the pandemic, revealing that almost a third of all puppies became sick after purchase



Find out more about the illegal puppy trade

Click here

Share now!