Should I Buy a Dog on Craigslist?

Are you considering bringing a new dog into your home? Perhaps you are wondering whether or not you should buy a dog on Craigslist?

Almost all signs point to no when it comes to buying a dog from Craigslist. Or any other animal for that matter. Your best bet is to stay far away from Craigslist when purchasing any living thing.

While Craigslist has officially banned the selling and purchase of animals, it is still done regularly. Pets are simply listed as needing to be rehomed, and people continue to get away with it. This article will cover the many reasons why it should be avoided at all costs.

Why Buying A Dog Through Craigslist Is So Appealing

As a child growing up, we had our share of dogs. And most were gotten from a shelter. You went in, picked out a dog you liked, paid a small adoption fee, and you went on your way.

But adoption centers have significantly evolved over the past several decades. There is much more that goes into rescuing a dog. The screening process can be overwhelming and make you feel like you are adopting a child instead of a dog.

There is also a considerable fee that comes with adopting from a shelter. Sometimes up into the hundreds of dollars. When buying from a reputable breeder that cost gets even higher – often in the thousands.

So, for many, who may not have done their research or are first-time dog owners, Craigslist seems like a great option. The dogs are generally less expensive and sometimes even free.

The Risks Of Buying A Dog Through Craigslist

Craigslist is not all it’s cracked up to be. It may be a great place to purchase a used piece of furniture, but there are several red flags to be aware of when it comes to animals.

  • Behavioral Problems
  • Backyard Breeders
  • Unethical Practices
  • They Could Be Stolen
  • Puppy Mills
  • Scams

I’m going to break down these major risks in the rest of the article below.

Behavioral Problems From Troubled Animals

It’s often the case that you will see ads for young dogs who have behavioral problems. These ads come from people who did little to no research when purchasing a puppy in many cases. And that adorable ball of fur has grown into a menace due to a lack of proper care and training.

Many of these dogs have severe problems that have developed over time and now require months of dedication to overcome. Some of these behaviors can include aggression, disobedience, or separation anxiety, and are often a direct result of the terrible conditions some of these dogs are kept in.

According to the ASPCA 47% of dogs in shelters end up there due to behavioral problems – although selling these dogs might seem like a kinder alternative, you’re likely going to be unprepared for raising a dog with serious behavior issues.

Backyard Breeders Selling Dogs With Health Concerns

A backyard breeder is a term given to those who breed their animals irresponsibly. You will often see this in the case of dogs getting pregnant because they were never spayed. And now the owner has a litter of puppies to get rid of.

Dogs often get pregnant by accident, and the owner is unaware of the time and costs of raising puppies. And selling a puppy cheaply on Craigslist is usually easier than maintaining their nutrition, vaccinations, and other veterinary care.

While a case like this seems relatively harmless, you also need to be aware of people who purposely breed dogs to make a profit. There is no health check or registration of the adult dogs with proper foundations. With no breed standard, puppies can often inherit genetic diseases and, in some cases, be inbred.

Backyard breeding does nothing more than contributing to the growing number of animals without homes. Many wind up in shelters and risk facing euthanasia. According to PETA, more than 6 million dogs end up homeless every year, and backyard breeders are a large driver of this.

Stolen Dogs Are Often Sold Through Craigslist

Unfortunately, this happens all too often. A dog, usually a purebred, is stolen from a loving family and then sold on Craigslist. Not only has a dog been taken from its family, but the thief has found a way to make money.

Puppy Mills Offloading ‘Excess’ Dogs

Puppy Mills are like backyard breeding, only worse. People who breed and sell dogs from puppy mills feed on our obsession with a cute face. It may seem easy enough to pick a puppy online, but it’s more often than not an animal’s suffering that you are contributing to.

Puppy Mills will never allow you to see where the puppy was born or to meet the parents. Often these dogs are bred continuously, and the puppies are confined to small cages for much of their lives.

Puppy Mills almost always sell dogs that are either sick or can easily inherit genetic conditions due to improper breeding standards.

According to the humane society, there are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States alone, with more than 200,000 dogs kept purely for breeding purposes in these mills. Over 2 and a half million dogs a year are sold from puppy mills, and many of them operate on large classified sites like Craigslist.

Scams & Signs To Look Out For

Craigslist scams are notorious. Scammers find photos from other websites and use them as their own. This often traps people into thinking they are getting something for a great deal. And dogs are no exception.

Here are a few major red flags to look out for when corresponding with a seller on Craigslist:

  • You can beware of scams by paying attention to the number of times the ad is posted. If a description seems strange and has incorrect grammar, there is a good chance it’s a scam.
  • If there is limited contact information or the seller will only communicate through email and not phone, then stay away.
  • Scammers will sometimes try to have a third party bring the dog to you without meeting the animal or seeing where it lives.
  • If a seller says the animal will be shipped from an undisclosed or remote location, there is a chance the ad is a scam. You may be asked to visit a website to pay shipping costs for an animal that doesn’t exist.
  • Anyone asking for strange forms of payment, such as wire transfers or bank deposits, is a red flag. This is almost always a scam. These scams often come from other countries and entice people to deposit or send money for an animal they will never receive.


Craigslist has moved in the right direction by banning the sale of animals. However, as humans, we need to do our due diligence when shopping for a dog. Staying away from Craigslist is not only helping you but the dogs that are often in desperate conditions.

James Smith