The Best Places to Find a Really Cheap Puppy

Updated on November 27, 2018
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a small animal veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.

Great puppies do not have to be purebred.
Great puppies do not have to be purebred. | Source

Are You Ready to Be a Pet Owner?

If you want a new puppy, there are a lot of resources available for you to check out. It is important to remember that nothing in life is free. Even if you are handed a new puppy for free, he or she will end up costing you a lot of money. There are dog food tabs and vet bills to be paid, and these things can add up fast!

If you are not able to buy a purebred puppy from a breeder in the first place, ask yourself if you are going to be able to meet a dog's daily needs. Dogs also need socialization, love, affection, and exercise. If you can provide all of these necessities, congratulations! Let's look at where you can find a puppy for an affordable price.

Places to Check for a New Puppy

Source
Details
Breed Rescue
Purebreds and crosses are available at rescues designated to that specific breed.
Petfinder.com
This search engine does a great job of pairing you with a pet based on your geographic location.
Animal Shelter
Animal shelters generally adopt out animals that have been spayed or neutered and fully vaccinated.
Parking Lot Puppy
Generally a circumstance where a privately bred dog has a litter and the owner wants to give the puppies to homes.
Backyard Breeder
Oftentimes considered an amateur animal breeder who breeds from home.
Newspaper/Craigslist
Ads placed online or in print will specify the breed type and personality along with any purchasing fees.
Purebred dogs can be found through rescue organizations.
Purebred dogs can be found through rescue organizations. | Source

Breed Rescues (Purebreds and Crossbreeds)

Adopting from a rescue is a great way to find a special dog or puppy. Breed rescues are definitely not the cheapest source of puppies, but you can find exactly what you are looking for if you are willing to search and wait for the dog to become available.

The rescue will most likely want to do an interview to determine if you have the right home for one of the dogs they have fostered. Since the dog has already been fostered, the rescue will be able to give you a lot of great information on housebreaking, activity level, behavior, social problems, etc. The dog will probably be neutered or spayed and fully vaccinated.

You will most likely be asked to make some sort of donation. The donation will probably not be too much—a hundred dollars or so—and will go towards covering your dog's expenses and helping other dogs that need to be adopted.

How to Find a Breed-Specific Dog Rescue

  1. Type in the name of the breed you are interested in, the word “rescue,” and the city (or county, state, or country) into your search engine.
  2. Call the groups nearest to your location (e.g. Bulldog Rescue, San Bernadino, California).
  3. Your search will also reveal several sites for puppies for sale, but if you want a better deal, you should wait on the rescue.

Breed Rescue Pros and Cons

Pro
Con
Breed-specific (purebred, crossbred)
Some purebreds have genetically inherited health issues
Vaccinated, fixed
Good history on the dog
Small donation
Looking for my forever home.
Looking for my forever home. | Source

Animal Shelters

Shelters are a great place to find healthy adult dogs and even puppies. Shelter puppies and adult dogs may not be free but they are cheap and well worth your consideration.

If you find the puppy you are looking for and you fulfill the conditions set by the shelter, you will be asked to make a small donation to cover the subsidized cost of the dog's spay or neuter, microchip, heartworm test, and vaccines. It will not be much and is actually a lot less than you would have spent at your regular veterinarian (we're talking a couple hundred dollars).

How to Adopt a Shelter Dog

  1. Find a local shelter and show up during the hours they are open to the public. Check the available dogs on the website ahead of time.
  2. Check in with an adoption specialist or client service representative and ask to see the available animals. It helps to provide them with some information about your preferences. Be sure to specify your preferences—small dog, medium-sized dog, shorthair dog, senior dog, and what kind of energy level you prefer.
  3. Meet with the dog(s).
  4. After you have found a furry friend to adopt, the shelter will want to interview you. Some shelters will probably want to visit your home and take a look at the environment in which you will be housing the dog. Many shelters have a staff of volunteers that interview and evaluate potential homes.
  5. If the shelter does not approve your application ask why. The volunteers want to find good homes for their dogs, and you may need to make several changes before being accepted.

Shelter Dog Adoption Pros and Cons

Pro
Con
Saving a life
Animal history not always known
Mixes inherit less genetic health issues
Often requires training
Affordable
Current on health requirements
Nearby
Petfinder is an excellent search engine for finding your new best friend.
Petfinder is an excellent search engine for finding your new best friend. | Source

Petfinder

Petfinder.com is another good option to find cheap puppies for sale near you. It is an easy way to get in touch with numerous dog breed rescues and humane societies outside of your city, too. Most of the dogs available through Petfinder do have adoption fees, similar to those from a no-kill shelter. The costs are reasonable and help defray the expenses of providing vaccines and surgery for your new puppy.

At one time Petfinder also had a classified section, but the site owners were not able to delete all the false ads and were concerned about the number of scams going on by persons offering “free” puppies; they now refer only to the adoption agencies.

How to Find a Dog on Petfinder.com

  1. Tell the search engine what type of dog you are looking for.
  2. Add your location.
  3. They will give you a list of places you can call and visit.

Petfinder Pros and Cons

Pro
Con
Well-regulated
Can be pricier than other options
Searches by preference
Discloses important information
A "free to good home" puppy may have started out life roughly and may not actually be free.
A "free to good home" puppy may have started out life roughly and may not actually be free. | Source

Backyard Breeders

This is not always the best source for a free puppy since some backyard dog breeders are trying to make a profit off of their dogs. Others, although, are just allowing them to breed and will get rid of them cheaply. Some take the extra step and provide an indoor space, whelping box, and take decent care of their dogs. But overall, backyard breeding conditions tend to be poor and the animals often don't receive adequate vet care.

These dogs can be cheap but they are not the cheapest around. The parents most likely did not have any health exams, so you might find out that your new furry friend has health issues like hip dysplasia, eye diseases, dental issues, a predisposition to atopic dermatitis, other genetic diseases, or even heartworm or digestive issues due to poor care or environmental conditions that could have been avoided.

Backyard Breeders Pros and Cons

Pro
Con
Free or cheap
Limited or no healthcare (vaccines, deworming)
Purebreds available
High probability of inherited genetic issues
Saving dog from a potentially bad environment
May have chronic behavioral or health issues due to upbringing
Nearby
Supporting irresponsible breeding
Some backyard breeders will try to sell puppies cheaply in parking lots.
Some backyard breeders will try to sell puppies cheaply in parking lots. | Source

Parking Lot Puppies

These are usually puppies that have been produced by backyard breeders. These breeders may be asking for a little or a lot of money; usually, they just will do whatever they can to sell the puppy and cover the expenses of raising a litter. Backyard breeders usually do not care if you are going to spend money on spaying or neutering the dog, provide vaccines, heartworm prevention, and other necessary pet care. Because they avoid covering the cost of essential care, you will be stuck with the initial costs.

Warning

If the parking lot person asks you for a significant amount of money (e.g., one hundred dollars) for the puppy, do not buy the dog. Some puppy mill operators try to sell puppies in this manner.

Be Wary of a High Asking Price

Some states have restricted pet shops from selling puppies because of puppy mill suppliers—commercial dog breeding farms that put profit over the health and wellbeing of their animal. Some mills are licensed and some are unlicensed.

Do not buy a puppy from anyone in a parking lot that is asking you for a significant amount of cash. Puppy mill sellers have been known to try to sell their dogs and puppies in parking lots to evade the regulations placed on pet shops. Do not buy from them!

Parking Lot Puppies Pros and Cons

Pro
Con
Giving a puppy a better home
Huge health costs due later because of inadequate care
May be cheap or free
May cost a lot initially
Nearby
No guarantee of parents' health or litter health
Supporting irresponsible breeding
Do not get scammed by a misleading advertiser.
Do not get scammed by a misleading advertiser. | Source

Advertisements in Newspapers and Craigslist Puppies

News flyers that contain free ads (and are usually distributed free) will often have ads for puppies that are “free to good home." You can also find free puppies on Craigslist or other free internet classifieds that serve your city.

Do Not Get Scammed

If you find an ad guaranteeing a free puppy but the seller asks you to pay the cost of shipping, vaccines, etc. beforehand, it is probably a scam. Do not pay for shipping a puppy. If you need to have the puppy vaccinated before taking her home, take care of it yourself. If you wire funds to someone for a “free” puppy, it is not free and your money is probably lost for good.

What Kind of Dog Breeds Can I Find?

These dogs will usually be mixed breed dogs that the owner has no chance of selling. The puppies will probably not have any sort of genetic screening and the owners may not have gone to the expense of providing the puppies with their first vaccine or deworming. These puppies are definitely cheap but will not necessarily be the cheapest.

You may end up taking home a puppy that comes down with parvovirus, an intestinal virus that will cost you hundreds of dollars to treat. Even if your puppy is healthy when she arrives, she will still cost you a lot of money in the first year (this is why the subsidized medical costs of the shelter usually help a lot).

Pro
Con
Free or cheap
No health care or health history
May be expensive to cover health issues
No known behavioral history
"Adopt don't shop"—avoid pet shops at all costs.
"Adopt don't shop"—avoid pet shops at all costs. | Source

Why You Should Avoid Pet Shop Puppies

If you are looking for a cheap puppy, you may find a really good deal at a pet shop. The puppy will probably be five or six months old (past his cute stage when he was most likely to be sold) and into adolescence. You will probably be supporting a puppy mill when you buy him.

What Is a Puppy Mill?

Puppy mills are breeding operations that raise dogs commercially in an intensive livestock production system. Dogs are fed but they do not have the ability to move around, may be kept in small cages, only have their fecal material to play with, and have no socialization with humans. Certain jurisdictions in the United States and Canada have actually instated a retail pet sale ban which prevents dogs and puppies from being sold at pet shops.

States With Jurisdictions That Passed the Retail Pet Sale Ban

 
 
 
California
Colorado
Florida
Georgia
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
New Mexico
Nevada
New York
New Jersey
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Washington
Wyoming
Source: BestFriends.org

Reasons Not to Buy From a Pet Shop

The pet shop puppy that you think is such a good deal has had a bad start in life and his existence has deprived him of normal socialization and housetraining. The puppy may be VERY cheap, but even if his breed is priced around $2000 and now he is almost free, you should only buy him if you are stupid and want to ruin your life. Why?

  • He will end up costing you a lot of money and probably be the source of a lot of heartache.
  • He may be impossible to housetrain, be dog aggressive, be food aggressive, and end up being shy and biting the adults or children in his new family.

Adopt Don't Shop

You should look into all the alternatives above if you need a cheap dog and not even consider buying a puppy from a pet shop.

Tips for Affording a Canine Companion

Your furry friend will need the essentials: exercise, good nutrition, love, and shelter. If you are worried about expenses, discover more tips to save money on your dog's health care.

When it comes to feeding, it may be tempting to but the cheaper dog food brands, but you will be doing your dog a disservice. Diet easily impacts overall health, so be sure to check out several dog food brands before purchasing and take a look at the ingredients list. Here are some recommendations:

  • Look for quality protein like chicken meal (avoid fillers)
  • Look for quality grain (corn may be hypoallergenic in some cases but can be of poor quality and trigger allergies in others)
  • Check the calorie content (make sure it's adequate and feed according to your dog's activity level and body type)
  • Make sure the food has all essential vitamins and minerals
  • Consider supplementing with glucosamine and chondroitin (good for athletic dogs and arthritic dogs)
  • Research homemade options

Are You Really Ready to Be a Pet Owner?

Inexpensive puppies are out there, but if you decide to get a puppy and accept the responsibility of providing a home for a dog, you need to be able to cover all of her expenses, both for the first year and each year after. If you are not going to be able to pay for emergency medical care, vaccinations, leashes, toys, and food, you should not be looking for a new puppy.

Questions & Answers

  • Where can I find a rescue Golden Retriever?

    Use your search engine and type in Golden Retriever, rescue, and the name of the city or region of the state that you live in. It will give you a list of rescues that work in your area.

  • I'm looking for a Rottweiler puppy. Where can I find one?

    The best thing to do if looking for a cheap puppy is to go through the list in the article. If you do not find what you are looking for, you will need to contact a Rottweiler breeder and get on a waiting list for the next available puppies.

    Do not purchase a puppy from a pet shop, even if you want a puppy soon.

  • What is the best place to get a Pit Bull?

    Animal shelters are usually full of the Pit type breeds. Many of them are put down since they can never find enough homes for them.

    Consider getting a senior dog instead of a puppy.

  • How can I get a dog and how much will be?

    In the article, there are several sources listed. Try them if you want to get a puppy. How much that puppy is going to cost depends on where you get him. Someone might sell a puppy for twenty bucks in a parking lot, but the puppy is not as cheap as one from a humane society that has been tested, vaccinated, and maybe even spayed or neutered.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Jay vance 

      4 weeks ago

      Looking for a lab mix puppy 30-50lbs full grown - or a terrior poodle mix also must be young .0

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      5 weeks ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Lori, the article will give you details of many places you can find a Pomeranian. If you cannot find one at one of those sources, a breeder is best.

      Do not buy from a pet shop. The dog might look sweet and lonely in the cage when you see her but will most likely end up being sick.

    • profile image

      Lori Butenhoff 

      5 weeks ago

      Where can I find a Pomeranian/ or toy Pomeranian?

    • profile image

      vickiemiller 

      6 weeks ago

      We lost our little dog to health issues looking for a small breed puppie

    • profile image

      Jozefbalneg 

      6 weeks ago

      Where can i found a free puppy any breed like

      Samoyed

      Pomeranian

      Shiba inu

      All female and puppy plzzz

    • profile image

      Grump Mullins 

      2 months ago

      Any one that wants a German Shepherd, Rottweiler,Doberman ect,really wants an American Bulldog. They just dont know the differance,and have little understanding what the American Bulldog really is.The standard bred r everything u could ask 4 n a dog .

    • profile image

      Judy morris 

      2 months ago

      I need a small dog.5lbs to 11lbs

    • profile image

      Laurie 

      2 months ago

      "if you are stupid and want to ruin your life"....how insulting, ....how rude....how condescending....

    • profile image

      Katherine Butler 

      2 months ago

      I'm looking for a small mutt, corgi mix 25 lb, fm

    • profile image

      Joan meyer 

      3 months ago

      Looking for basett hound puppy

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Laredo, the places where you can look for a cheap puppy are listed in the article.

    • profile image

      Laredo 

      4 months ago

      Hey i want a non expensive dog our family does not have a lot of money and need a little buddy to play with and cuddle with coment back please.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      5 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Johanna, I do not sell puppies and would definitely not consider shipping a puppy anywhere. I am not sure where you live in Australia, but in the big cities there are animal shelters.

      You can also visit dog shows to find breeders that sell the breeds appropriate for an apartment. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Five-Great-Dog-Breeds-...

    • profile image

      Emanuel 

      5 months ago

      Hi i really want a puppy but my parents wont let me beacuse they are to espensive i really want one!!!!!!!!!!!

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Some people will give you a puppy for free, or only $10 or 20 to make sure you are serious about the new dog.

    • profile image

      Shakira Jones 

      7 months ago

      What would be the cheapest for a puppy

    • profile image

      Ella 

      8 months ago

      Cute

    • profile image

      Abbigail 

      10 months ago

      I need a little friend I only want a puppy I have looked everywhere till my boyfriend told me this was the best please help me find a cute puppy

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Mary Ann Hernandez 

      11 months ago

      My email is hrndzmaryann@yahoo.com. Iam.looking for 2 dogs.. One a dashound for my uncle who iS sick he's 71.....one for my friend Madeline my BBF for 25yrs or more small dog she 55 with cancer and lonely... If any help let me know.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      11 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Emma be sure to read about bite inhibition and train your new puppy so that if he bites it is not hard.

    • profile image

      Emma 

      11 months ago

      Hi I am a kid too and I want a new dog because my dog bits me hard and I won't one that is a good puppy I am a 11 years old

    • profile image

      mia 

      12 months ago

      I am a kid I really want a dog or puppy

    • profile image

      Lisa Jansen, Grass Valley, CA 

      19 months ago

      Hi: I'm looking for a small bulldog, or bulldog mis near my area needing a home. I can't have a pit bull. I'd need an English or French bulldog mix. I'd consider a puppy. Email me at 3piggal@gmail.com I could pay up to $100.00.

    • profile image

      lubomir 

      24 months ago

      hello mate my kids want an dog please give a pretty and cute one for free im not american

    • profile image

      Brianna 

      3 years ago

      I do not nowhere to buy a puppy for 20 dollars

    • profile image

      awwwww those puppies are beautiful and i will give 30 million dollars to get them a home and30more million in cash so where is the owmer 

      5 years ago

      Awww those puppies where really cute and i am willing to give $30.000.000 dollars to who ever posted this sight

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      6 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Rachel be sure to check out breed rescues in your area for Corgis. They are able to herd geese and if you get a puppy and raise her with the geese she will also be a guardian dog, although obviously not in the class of a Great Pyrenees or Kuvasz. (They will herd sheep too, of course, which I am sure you will consider an advantage.)

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

      Great article, DrMark. Petfinder.com is awesome! Sometimes I check it out just to "window shop", so to speak, because I eventually want to get another job to help out Honeybear. After the fox-fight I have been thinking it would be best to have too dogs. I worry she'll meet a coyote next...

      By the way, the pit-mix in that last picture look so similar to my dad's dog, JoJo! (Nicest boy ever, by the way; he was my boyfriend a couple years ago when I still lived at home, haha)

      Great hub and take care!

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      6 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Eiddwen thanks for taking the time out to comment. I am glad you found the information useful, and of course hope to publish many more that will be of use!

      Thanks again for stopping by.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      6 years ago from Wales

      Such a well informed and useful hub on man's best friend. Here's to so many more of yours to read.

      Enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

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