The UK Kennel Club has discovered that half of the dogs show behavioural problems, while more than one in ten have serious health issues.
They are warning would-be owners to avoid retailers who use websites and social media as a front for cruel puppy farms. Welfare organisations say such breeders are interested only in profits, rather than the animals’ well-being.
Welfare organisations claim such breeders are only interested in profits, not the animals’ health or well-being.
As a consequence, many die due to poor health while still puppies or require expensive veterinary treatment. They are also more likely to display aggressive or unsociable behaviour.
Experts warn that any prospective owner should ideally buy their pet from a registered breeder or a rescue centre, and visit the premises to see the puppy with its mother and inspect health certificates.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: ‘More and more people are buying puppies from sources, such as the internet, which are often used by puppy farmers.
‘Whilst there is nothing wrong with initially finding a puppy online, it is essential to then see the breeder and ensure that they are doing all of the right things.
‘This research clearly shows that too many people are failing to do this, and the consequences can be seen in the shocking number of puppies that are becoming sick or dying.
‘We have an extremely serious consumer protection and puppy welfare crisis on our hands.
‘We urge people to always buy a puppy from a member of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, who are the only breeders in the country whose membership is based upon their ability to show that the health and welfare of their pups comes first and foremost.’
In the survey of more than 2,000 dogs owners, the Kennel Club asked them about their experience of buying a puppy.
Currently, one in three owners source their puppy from the internet, social media, pet shops or print advertisements – all outlets that are commonly used by puppy farmers.
And of growing concern is that the internet is the second most common way for under-25s to purchase a puppy, with a third admitting they purchased their dog this way.
The research also found owners of cross and mixed breeds are less likely to see the puppy with the mum and where it was born, with half not seeing the mum and 72 per cent not seeing its home environment.
This has led to fears over unscrupulous breeders cashing in on fashionable dogs such as the Labradoodle – a cross between a Labrador and a poodle – and the Puggle – a beagle and pug mix.
TV vet Marc Abraham, said: ‘Sadly, if the “buy it now” culture persists then this horrific situation will only get worse.
‘There is nothing wrong with sourcing a puppy online but people need to be aware of what they should then expect from the breeder.
‘For example, you should not buy a car without getting its service history and seeing it at its registered address, so you certainly shouldn’t buy a puppy without the correct paperwork and health certificates and without seeing where it was bred.
‘However, too many people are opting to buy directly from third parties such as the internet, pet shops, or from puppy dealers, where you cannot possibly know how or where the puppy was raised.’