Avoid accidentally buying a smuggled dog

Smuggled dogs are just as the name describes - dogs brought into Sweden illegally with incomplete papers or without fulfilled vaccinations either by private individuals or organisations. The main purpose is to make money as many of the dogs are (or are claimed to be) of breeds or mixes that are expensive and for which there can be a long waiting time at breeders in Sweden.

But why should a foreign dog be so much worse just because it doesn't have proper papers? The factor that is often highlighted from a societal point of view is the introduction of diseases that we have so far managed to keep free of in Sweden and that can spread both among dogs and to us humans.

The most well-known and feared of these is Rabies, an incurable and very distressing disease for both humans and animals that almost always leads to death. The problem with Rabies is that infected individuals can carry the virus latently for weeks, months and even years before symptoms appear. This means that you can buy a seemingly healthy smuggled dog that has escaped the requirement to be vaccinated against rabies on importation and subsequently develop symptoms. As the virus is transmitted through saliva, you as a dog owner can become infected by a bite or a bite (which is unfortunately a high risk as many infected individuals develop aggressiveness when symptoms appear).

In addition to rabies, the risk of introducing diseases such as Leichmaniosis (a blood parasite that can infect humans with fatal results), TVT (an infectious tumour disease between dogs) and many others from which we in Sweden have so far been spared.

In addition to the spread of disease, the health of the dog is an important factor in avoiding the purchase of a smuggled dog. Many of the dogs have been separated from their mothers well before the recommended age (8 weeks), and have not received the important antibodies necessary for the puppy's immune system during the first period due to the absence of mother's milk. These puppies are at increased risk of disease and in many cases have not undergone a pre-sale veterinary examination.

Unfortunately, behavioural problems are also not uncommon. The first few weeks of a puppy's life are very important for socialisation and adaptation to people and unfamiliar environments and as many of the puppies have been exposed tostress, rough handling and harrowing transport conditions, there is an increased risk of insecurity and aggression which can take a long time and a lot of work to train away.

But what can you do before buying a dog to avoid accidentally buying a trafficked dog?

  • Ask to meet the puppy with its mother in the home environment before you buy. All puppies and the bitch should look healthy and well-nourished and the environment should be clean and hygienic. If you meet the seller in a public place and he has several puppies of different breeds and ages, this is a strong warning sign.

  • Do not buy a puppy that has not been inspected, vaccinated and fully healthy. Reputable breeders should deliver the puppy fully vaccinated (done at about 8 weeks) together with a veterinary inspection certificate no more than 7 days old.

  • Never accept to buy a puppy younger than 8 weeks. It is illegal to separate the puppies from the mother before 8 weeks of age.

  • Be wary if the puppy is younger than 15 weeks and has a foreign passport/is said to have been imported from another country. As rabies vaccination is a requirement for import from all countries (except Norway), the vaccine should be given at 12 weeks at the earliest and is not valid forfor border crossing until 3 weeks (21 days) after the date of vaccination, it is not possible to legally import a puppy younger than 15 weeks.

  • If the puppy is claimed to have a pedigree, you should be able to see proof of this before or at the time of transfer of the puppy, do not accept that the vendor should "send this later".

  • Make sure you get a bill of sale/contract showing the seller's full name, address and telephone number. Please check that the details are correct before the purchase, it is important that you are able to contact the seller after the purchase if anything should happen.

  • Always be suspicious when selling puppies at a lower price than the corresponding puppies on

  • It is the law that all dogs in Sweden must be ID marked. Most reputable sellers do this before delivery of the puppy (it must be done before 4 months of age). You should receive a certificate of identification at the time of purchase and the chip number should appear on the inspection certificate. An imported dog can never be legally imported if it is not ID-tagged as this is a requirement for border crossing.

  • If you are buying a puppy that is said to be legally imported from another country, you should ask to see all the official documents for entry and you should also bring these documents with you when you take over the dog.

  • It is illegal to clip (modify/cut off) the ears or tail of dogs in Sweden. If the puppy is clipped it is either an import or made illegal. Do not buy these dogs as cupping is an unethical cosmetic procedure that inhibits the dog's ability to communicate.

Never be afraid to ask questions or request the above from the seller. All reputable breeders, whether purebred or mixed breed, are just as concerned as the buyer that the dogs go to a suitable and loving home and that the sale is done right!

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