Anyone looking for a new furry friend should thoroughly research its seller to avoid buying from the “underground puppy trade” and owners who keep animals in poor conditions. Chris Sherwood, RSPCA chief executive, said: “While the idea of a new pet joining your family around the tree may be a wonderful festive scene, the truth behind your Christmas puppy could be much darker.
“Dogs used in the underground puppy trade lead miserable lives in horrific conditions and their puppies often have lifelong health and behavioural problems due to their poor start.”
Christine Middlemiss, the Government’s chief veterinary officer, said: “After a difficult year, many people may be considering getting a new puppy.
“However, the lead-up to Christmas is a prominent time for unscrupulous sellers to take advantage of those looking to buy a new pet.
“That is why we are advising people to remain vigilant and to always thoroughly research sellers.”
The price of puppies has more than doubled during lockdown, according to website Pets4Homes.
Experts predict there could be a 400 percent surge in online searches of “buy a puppy” from the middle of this month.