How to Sell Puppies

Updated January 20, 2020
Puppies huddled together sleeping

Do you need information about how to sell puppies responsibly? Learn the basics as well as other information that every responsible breeder should know to ensure your dogs find the best homes.

Learn How to Sell Puppies

There are many ways to find buyers for your litter. Some of these methods are more effective than others at finding good forever homes.

Ways to Advertise Puppies for Sale

First, you have to get the word out that you have puppies available.

  • Place an ad in your local newspaper.
  • Post a flier on your vet's bulletin board.
  • Post a flier at local pet supply shops and feed stores.
  • Advertise in breed magazines.
  • Network with members of local kennel clubs.
  • Contact previous buyers of your puppies to ask for any referrals they may have.

Using Craigslist to Sell Puppies

While some breeders attempt to use Craigslist to sell puppies, it's actually against the website's terms and conditions. You may however see people listing dogs up for "adoption" while asking for a rehoming fee in. In some cases, these truly are people looking to rehome a pet that is not working out for them and they ask for a fee to make sure that you are financially able to care for the pet. In others, these are breeders looking to sell pet locally under the guise of an adoption scenario. While it's possible to find good owners for your litters on Craigslist, you are also more likely to find people looking for the cheapest dog possible and will not be willing to go through your screening process. Craiglist is often used as an option by backyard breeders looking to sell a puppy fast and does not tend to attract owners who are knowledgeable and looking for a quality dog and breeder. You also risk having your ads flagged and removed by other users of the pet boards on Craigslist as well as the admin team which makes posting them an inefficient use of your time.

Man carrying puppies in his arms

Using Facebook to Sell Puppies

Using Facebook has similar drawbacks to using Craiglist. Facebook's commerce policy prohibits the sale of animals. However, just like Craigslist, you can go onto the Facebook Marketplace and see pets for sale most days. Also like Craigslist, these posts are flagged and deleted but some do squeak by. You risk having your posts removed and again, as with Craigslist, you may not attract the best type of buyer. However, you absolutely can set up a Facebook page for your breeding business and use that to promote information about your dogs, your litters and anything about the breed you want prospective owners to know. Some breeders use their Facebook pages as a place to answer questions from owners after their puppies come home and other owners benefit from the group educational atmosphere. They also encourage owners to post pictures of their puppies on the page throughout their life.

Selling Puppies Online

Some breeders will sell puppies online, either through their own website or dog selling sites like Next Day Pets. While it seems like this will allow you to reach a wider audience of potential puppy owners, it's actually better to avoid this practice. You really want to meet your buyers in person and see how they interact with the pups before you agree to sell to them. If a potential owner is willing to travel to you to meet in person and see the litter, these pet for sale websites can potentially work but it's best for the dog's welfare to avoid selling and shipping a puppy to someone sight unseen.

Basket of puppies

Selling Puppies to Local Pet Stores

Another practice that some breeders use is selling puppies to local pet shops that sell puppies. Pet shops do not have a good reputation for caring properly for puppies, and even the best care can still lead to puppies with developmental and behavior problems because of how they are kept in a pet shop. It is much better for the puppies to stay in a home environment until they go to their new forever home compared to staying in a small pen or enclosure. This can actually lead to the same types of issues puppy mill dogs have such as difficulty with house training, fear, anxiety and stereotypy behaviors.

Advertising at Local Pet Stores to Sell Puppies

A better way to utilize a pet store would be to work with a local pet shop to advertise your puppies for sale, and even allow you to come show them on a weekend day, assuming they are old enough to be out. You can then meet prospective owners and give them applications to fill out for the puppies and go through the interview and sales process outside of the store. A store may be willing to do this for a percentage of the puppy sale, or, simply to get more potential pet owners into their doors to become long-term customers, making it a win-win for both of you.

How to Screen Prospective Buyers

Once the word is out that you have dogs for sale, all kinds of people will come calling. The challenge as a responsible breeder is to weed out the unsuitable candidates and find people that have the time, means and desire to give one of your pups a happy, lifelong home. A prospective buyer should:

  • Have enough time to spend with a puppy and train it
  • Provide truly adequate shelter from the elements
  • Have a fenced yard so the puppy can exercise safely
  • Have permission from his or her landlord to house a pet if only renting the dwelling
  • Realize that dogs require routine veterinary care, including vaccinations and annual check ups
  • Be able to afford to pay for that veterinary care
  • Be willing to provide high quality food and fresh water at all times
  • Understand the grooming needs of the particular breed
  • Be willing to have the pup spayed or neutered unless the pup is sold with breeding permission

How to Establish the Price of the Pup

There are several factors to consider when you try to decide which price to charge for each puppy.

  • First, consider the average market price for your breed. This will help you determine a baseline price for your puppies.
  • Factor in the price of any veterinary care the puppy has received, including initial checkup, dewclaw removal, vaccinations, testing for genetic conditions, etc.
  • The quality of the puppy's conformation is another factor that helps determine its price. Is the pup show quality, breeding quality or merely pet quality? Show quality pups garner the highest prices, while pet quality puppies are usually sold for less.
  • Price your pups fairly. Profit shouldn't be your main concern, and you don't want to miss placing a puppy in a wonderful home just because the price was simply too high.

When Can You Place a Puppy?

One of the key responsibilities of a good breeder is making sure that the puppy is set up to develop into a happy, healthy adult dog with its new family.

Adorable Havanese puppies running in a yard

Reasons to Keep Puppy With Mother

Making sure the puppy is properly socialized while it's still in your home is critical, as well as not allowing the puppy to leave the mother before eight weeks of age. Even if the new owner begs you to take the dog home sooner than eight weeks, you should remain firm for the good of the dog. You of course can take deposits for the sale of the puppies prior to this time. Some disreputable breeders will take puppies away from their mother as early as four weeks, which can lead to serious behavioral and developmental issues as the puppy grows up, as well as potential medical problems from the stress on the puppy.

Where Is it Illegal to Sell Puppies Under Eight Weeks?

It's also illegal to sell puppies under eight weeks old in these states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia (under six weeks)
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine (not before end of seventh week)
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia (under seven weeks)
  • Wisconsin (under seven weeks)

Obligations As an Ethical Breeder

Follow these practices:

  • Do not sell a puppy before it is at least eight weeks old, and preferably closer to 12 weeks old. Puppies need time to be fully weaned, and they gain valuable social skills from interacting with their mom and litter mates that will make them better companions as they grow older.
  • Do not let any pup leave your home before you have had it vet checked for basic health and given at least its first set of vaccinations.
  • Provide the buyer with the puppy's health record which includes the vet's contact info, worming info, which vaccinations the pup has received, the date they were given and when the next shots are due. The vet should also check carefully for a heart murmur, and the pup's condition should be fully disclosed to the buyer before the sale is completed.
  • At a minimum you should provide at least a one week health guarantee which gives the buyer time to have the pup vet checked by his or her own vet. Be willing to accept the puppy back and return the buyer's money if the puppy is found to be ill.
  • Top breeders often offer an additional lifetime health guarantee against genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and other breed-specific conditions that may not appear until after the pup has become an adult. Typically, the breeder will offer a replacement pup, but still allow the owner to keep the original dog if he or she so chooses. The breeder may also opt to accept the original dog back and provide the necessary medical care.

All guarantees should be clearly written out, signed by both the breeder and buyer, and each party should retain a dated copy of the agreement. Keep in mind that the legality of any written agreement may be challenged in court, but it is important to demonstrate that there was a meeting of the minds at the time of sale.

Rehoming a Dog

In some cases, puppies are put up for sale not by the breeder but by the person or persons who bought it from the breeder. This can happen if the new owner realizes the puppy is not a good fit for them, or if a family member develops an allergy or if other pets in the home do not get along with the new puppy.

Black Labrador puppies in the back of a vehicle

Rehoming Fees

A responsible breeder will take back one of their dogs at any time, but you may see owners who bought a puppy from a less than reputable breeder advertising their puppy for adoption with a rehoming fee. A rehoming fee in this instance is designed to make sure the new owner is capable of caring for the dog and places value on it. Some owners will also ask a fee to recoup the money they lost from the purchase of the dog and supplies. It's up to the potential new owner to decide if the amount of the rehoming fee is reasonable. Some owners will try to use the fee to recoup all of their financial losses but this will make it harder for them to sell the dog unless it's a rarer, hard-to-find breed. They may also find potential owners who object to that high of a fee because the original intent is to make sure the dog is going to a responsible home and not to make back all the money you spent.

When Puppy Goes to Its New Home

Make sure you are ready when the new owners come to pick up the puppy.

  • Plan to send a two day supply of the puppy's current kibble home with the new owner. This will give him or her time to go to the pet supply store and pick up more. Also provide a schedule of how often and how much to feed at each meal.
  • Along with the health record and any written guarantee, provide a copy of the puppy's pedigree and registration application if applicable.
  • Make sure the new owner keeps your contact information and be prepared to answer follow-up questions as needed.

A Breeder's Dedication

As you can see, there is quite a bit more that goes into how to sell puppies than a simple cash transaction. A good breeder always puts each puppy's welfare ahead of the profit from a sale. If you find you're unable to do that, you may need to reconsider whether you should breed dogs to offer for sale at all.

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How to Sell Puppies