Corgi Puppy

How To Buy A Dog Online: Our Must Follow Guide

Written By Olivia De Santos | Canine Coach, Professional Writer & Video Content Creator.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | Double B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 10th January 2024

So you’re looking to buy a dog online. Me too! Today I’m going to walk you through the exact process of how to buy a dog online and how I’m following these steps myself to find my dream puppy.

We’ll talk about how to find the right breed for you, how to find a reputable breeder, and how to choose the right puppy specifically for you.

Ready to find the right dog for you? Read on to learn more.


How Much Does It Cost To Buy a Dog Online?

Before we dive into the exact process of buying a dog online, how much should you budget for a dog?

This is going to be deeply unhelpful, but it highly depends.

Some puppies can cost up to $5000 because of how rare or popular the dog breed is.

From what I’ve seen in my research, the average puppy costs between $200-750, which is a vast range. Of course, this will also fluctuate depending on where in the country you are purchasing from.

You should also factor expenses for getting to and from the breeder’s establishment which can sometimes mean flying them interstate.


How To Purchase a Dog Online In Australia in 6 steps

When I decided to buy a puppy, I outlined the process I would take (like the nerd I am). This blog is that process, so I hope you find it useful! Let’s dive into finding your perfect dog.

1. Decide on the right dog breed for you

First, what type of dog are you looking for? There are 350 known breeds out there in the world today. (1) That only multiplies with all of the cross breeds possible.

And guess what? All breeds have different exercise and feeding needs. They come in all shapes and sizes. So before you begin your search, you need to figure out what type of dog will best suit you.

Related: The Best Dogs For First Time Owners.

To find a breed or type of dog that will work with your lifestyle, I recommend focussing on these factors:

Activity level

Some dogs are total couch potatoes. Others need 3-4 walks a day just to stay sane. The high-activity dogs tend to be working dog breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. Low-exercise dogs include Sharpeis and Bassett Hounds.

How active are you able to be in your weekly/daily schedule?
Do you want a dog that you can run or hike with?

For me? I work from home, so I have a flexible schedule for walks, but I also work a lot. I need many hours of desk time to get my work done.

So when I’m choosing a dog breed, I’ll select a breed that needs maximum of two walks per day, but ideally one, without going crazy. 

Size

This is a big one (pun intended). The size of your dog affects your level of comfort at home and theirs. Though many dogs are inactive indoors, you have to think about the height of a large dog in a small apartment. One wack of a Bernese Mountain dog’s tail could clear an entire coffee table. You don’t want that in a studio apartment!

If you plan to travel with your dog, as I do, you also want to think about having them in cargo or taking them in your car. Can your dog go on public transport easily if you commute to work?

Larger dogs need larger beds, bowls and toys. They also eat more food than smaller dogs. These need to be factored into your budget when considering the overall cost of owning your dog.

For me, a small-medium dog will suit my lifestyle best. Easy enough to travel with and also withstand living in a two-bed apartment. 

Temperament

It’s fair to say that most dog owners want a jolly dog, right? And to a degree, most dogs are indeed cheerful. However, some dogs are more guarded and reserved than others.

Some breeds naturally love all other dogs and people. Other breeds are fiercely loyal to their owners and ambivalent about everyone else.

There’s no judgement about either type of dog. I had a German Shepherd that was super reserved, but he was such a warm soul to the people he loved and trusted. I wouldn’t have changed that for the world.

But for my next dog, I do want a sociable pooch, because I am antisocial. A sociable dog will help me get out a bit more and meet new people.

There are other factors to consider when buying a dog online, but these are the main three to start with.

Question: what breed of dog do you think will suit you? I’ll let you know mine at the end!

Welsh corgi puppy.

2. Do you want a puppy or an adult dog?

So far, I’ve used the terms pup and dog interchangeably, but I think we can all agree that puppies and dogs are very different,

You can equally buy a puppy or a dog online. So what age is going to suit you best?

For a start, puppies are adorable. They are a clean slate. A fresh being brought into this world that you can shape and support into a model member of canine society.

That said, adult dogs have their perks too. If they have come from a loving home, they are usually housetrained already, have had their vaccinations and been spayed/neutered. These are huge expenses that you needn’t worry about.

Adult dogs are generally easier to integrate into your life, as puppies need a lot of attention.

I have raised rescue dogs into their twilight years three times. So I’d like to relearn the magic of puppyhood.

3. Consider adopting a dog or puppy

It would be poor of me not to mention adopting here. You can adopt a dog online by searching for rescue shelters and foster homes for dogs that advertise online. You may even be able to reserve the dog online before meeting them to make a final decision.

Why is adopting so valuable? Because there are so many puppies and dogs out there that have found themselves in a rehoming situation through no fault of their own.

A dog being difficult or dangerous is relatively rare in adoption situations. Most dogs end up in care because their owners have died, moved away or weren’t equipped to take care of them.

You can give a dog or puppy a second chance.

And yes! Puppies can be found for adoption.

Now is adopting free? Rarely. Usually, you need to pay an adoption fee to either a rescue shelter or a private seller. So this is still buying a dog online. Just that dog has had a previous home before yours.

Corgi Puppy looking at our camera.

4. Find a reputable breeder

But okay, let’s say you want to buy a puppy instead of adopting one. There’s no judgement here as although I am a lifelong adopter, I am now considering buying a puppy, as I’m looking for a specific breed.

So, what do we do? We must find a reputable dog breeder to ensure we get a well-bred dog.

And how do we do that? Here is how I would research dog breeders:

Breed club listings

For this one, Google the dog breed and see if there is an official breed club website. On there, you will find the details of reputable dog breeders.

Online dog listing sites

Here are some listing sites in Australia:

  • DogzOnline
  • RightPaw
  • Dogs Online Australia

Online general sites

Places like Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace can be valuable places to search for dogs and puppies from breeders and private sellers. Just be careful not be get scammed – more on that shortly.

Reputable dog breeders will:

  • Have a license to breed dogs with a registration number you can research
  • Be able to show you paperwork on the parents of the litter and former litters
  • Be knowledgeable about the dog breed
  • Be registered on a breed database or a member of a club (optional)
  • Be equally invested in your capabilities as an owner before selling to you
  • Be willing to show you where the puppies are born and introduce you to the parents (or at least the mother)

A word on puppy farms

No article like this, worth its salt, can be written without mentioning puppy farms. So here I am, mentioning, informing and condemning.

What are puppy farms? The technical definition is:

“an intensive dog breeding facility that is operated under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs,” writes RSPCA Australia. (2)

You can spot a puppy farm by the following qualities:

  • Multiple puppy litters in one area
  • Unclean, unsanitary conditions
  • Large puppy breeding area
  • Puppy farm owners will likely only show you one room and not tour the full facility. Or they will arrange to meet you away from the mother and the birthing home.
  • No breeding license number

If you suspect that a “breeder” is actually running a puppy farm, report them immediately to the local council.

A word on private sellers

Of course, dog breeders aren’t the only way dogs are born into this world. Ever had a neighbour who didn’t desex their dog and all of a sudden has a litter of puppies to give away or sell? That’s not uncommon, and it’s not illegal.

Puppy farms are hubs of intentionally underhanded, unsustainable breeding of dogs. But private sellers? They’re usually just unlucky. They didn’t intend to have a litter of puppies – it just happened.

So what do you need to know when buying a puppy from a private seller in Australia?

All of the previous tips about judging good breeding conditions apply, but I would add these criteria as well, to be fair to the situation:

  • What is the situation? How did the puppies come to be?
  • When were the puppies born?
  • Can you meet both parents? If not, you should at least be able to meet the mother. Does the seller have information on the breed and temperament of the father?
  • Do the parents have any health issues you need to know about?
  • Can you see where the puppies are kept?

Usually, we want to go to reputable dog breeders, but for private sellers, just make sure the puppies are well looked after and cared for.

PRO TIP: No breeder or private seller should sell a puppy younger than eight weeks old. If they suggest taking a puppy home before this, red flag! Report them to the council for unsafe breeding practices.

5. Visit your chosen breeder

So you’ve done your research and found a breeder online. Great! Reach out to that breeder and ask about their latest litter. How many of the littermates are left, and when can you visit?

You see, although we’re talking about how to buy a dog online, the transaction can’t be completely online.

We’re not in the Metaverse yet, where you can live out a virtual world with your virtual dog. You should want to meet your dog or puppy in person before making a final decision to bring them home.

Arrange a date and time to see your pooch in person.

Upon your visit, you want to know the following:

  • The living conditions of the puppy or dog
  • If they have had any vaccinations or procedures done
  • Their level of development (eating solid foods, housetrained, crate trained etc. depending on their age)
  • Any paperwork you need

If you are buying a dog online, this is where this guide ends for you. You meet the dog and see if they are the right fit for you. If you get on, make arrangements to pay the seller and take your pup home.

If you’re buying a puppy online, there’s one more step to go, so keep reading!

A word on online puppy scams

If you’re reading this article because you think you might get scammed, this is the section for you. But why didn’t I put this section earlier? Because this is the stage where puppy scams are blatantly obvious to spot.

A puppy scam will try to make you pay to visit the puppy or pay for the puppy outright without any visitation beforehand.

A reputable breeder will never EVER ask you for money before you visit the puppy.

If an online private seller asks you for an upfront investment, report the listing, as this is not good practice.

6. Choose the right puppy for you

So the day has come! You are ready to choose your puppy from the litter.

How can you choose from that bunch of adorable, pinchable faces?

Talk to the breeder

The first thing to do is talk to the breeder about each puppy. Are there any eating or pooping issues? What about congenital disabilities?

That may not be an eliminating factor for you. For example, I had a cat with one eye when I was a kid. She was fantastic. In university, I fostered a cat with three legs. Also fabulous.

I’m not suggesting eliminating ailing puppies. Just that you get the complete medical situation of each of the pups so you can make a fully informed decision.

Watch the puppies play together

You can tell a lot about a dog by the way they play together.

“Do they all play together, or is there a quiet one that retreats to a corner? Is there one pup that always seems to come out on top of the heap? If you want an assertive pet, that one may be for you. If you want a more docile friend, retrieve the pup from the corner.” - Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Lynn Buzhardt, DVM, VCA Hospitals (3)

Of course, you will have to socialise your puppy into being confident with others, but that natural temperament is valuable to note.

Inspect the puppy for overall health

You’re looking for a shiny coat, bright eyes and a healthy weight. Puppy fat is entirely normal and encouraged. They should be able to breathe easily and move around freely.

Try approaching the puppy

Does the puppy shy away from you? Or do they have a playful energy around you? Do they roll onto their belly and enjoy cuddles? Or are they more resistant, needing more time to warm up to you? Assess the type of personality that suits you best.

Sometimes you just know

As frivolous as it might sound when you know, you know. I recently wrote a post on my 14 year old dog passing away. We were not looking for a puppy when we adopted her. Ideally, we were searching for an adult medium dog. Instead, we fell in love with an eight week old large breed puppy. And we just knew she was the one for us.

Sometimes you have an instant connection with a dog that is inexplicable. It doesn’t always happen, but trust your gut. If it feels like the right match, it usually is!


My Final Thoughts

After going through this process, you should hopefully come home with the perfect pooch for your family home. I hope this article helped you learn how to buy a dog online. For those curious, I am looking for a cocker spaniel as the perfect pup for my lifestyle. Comment below what type of dog you are looking for!

FAQ

What paperwork should I get when buying a puppy in Australia?

Every breeder registered in Australia should have a breeder registration number and pedigree papers to show you.

How do I know if my dog breeder is legit?

A reputable dog breeder will never ask for money upfront before seeing the puppies. They will be experts on the dog breed, telling you all the information you need to know about their development. They will also be able to show you the lineage of the puppies and their living conditions.

References

  1. Pennisi, E. April 25, 2017. “Where did your dog come from? New tree of breeds may hold the answer”. Science.org. Retrieved February 13, 2023. https://www.science.org/content/article/where-did-your-dog-come-new-tree-breeds-may-hold-answer 
  2.  “What is a puppy farm?”. April 30, 2019. RSPCA. Retrieved February 13, 2023. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-is-a-puppy-farm/
  3. Llera, R. Buzhardt, L. “Choosing the Right Puppy from a Litter”. VCA Hospitals. Retrieved February 13, 2023. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/choosing-the-right-puppy-from-a-litter

Olivia De Santos


Olivia De Santos is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer and Video Content Creator.

Olivia has over 10 years of experience writing professionally and is a dog Mum to Pip, her Podengo and Blue, her Flat-coated Retriever. She loves writing pieces to help people to be better dog owners.

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