Where can I get a dog?

Once you’ve decided a dog is the right pet for your lifestyle and resources, the places you can get a dog are:

  • shelters and pounds
  • rehoming organisations
  • dog breeders
  • private seller
  • pet shops (which source dogs from pounds, shelters, or registered foster carers).

Shelters and pounds

Animal shelters take in and care for lost, injured, stray or unowned dogs. Shelters are commonly owned and managed by animal welfare organisations.

Council pounds impound and care for lost, injured, stray and unowned dogs. Pounds are either operated by the local council or by a contractor on behalf of council. Many pounds don’t sell animals directly but may operate a shelter or work with a rehoming organisation.

If you'd like to choose a dog from a shelter or pound, first read requirements for shelters and pounds to find out about the standards to expect, including the vaccinations and advice they’ll provide and what happens if your adoption isn’t successful.

Rehoming organisations

Pet rehoming organisations care for dogs in need of a new home and actively seek to match them with the right person or family. They are essential to help reduce the number of animals in shelters and pounds. Some rehoming organisations focus on specific breeds or type of dog, such as working dogs.

Dog breeders

There are 4 types of dog breeder:

1. Microbreeder

Someone who owns 1 or 2 fertile female dogs and breeds to sell.

2. Recreational breeder

A breeding member of an applicable organisation and owns up to 10 fertile female dogs, and breeds to sell.

3. Domestic animal business

Owns 3 to 10 fertile female dogs and is not a member of an applicable organisation.

4. Commercial dog breeder

An approved commercial dog breeder:

  • owns a breeding business with up to 50 fertile female dogs for the purpose of breeding
  • has been through a rigorous application assessment process and is approved by the Minister
  • is registered with their local council
  • complies with the relevant code of practice, inspections, and annual reporting.

Find out more about commercial dog breeders and read the list of approved commercial dog breeders for Victoria.

Private individual

A private individual is person who is rehoming their own dog due to a change of circumstances.

Pet shops

In 2015, the Victorian Government introduced new regulations on sourcing animals and record keeping requirements for pet shops in Victoria. This was part of its crackdown on illegal puppy farming.

Pet shops may only sell dogs if they have been sourced from pounds, shelters or registered foster carers.

Before choosing a dog from a pet shop find out more about buying an animal from a pet shop.

Haven’t decided yet?

Bringing a dog home is a big decision. Dogs can live for about 10 to 13 years, depending on the breed. Owning a dog is a long-term commitment both in time and cost.

Get the information you need from the healthy pet checklist to:

  • help you buy or adopt the right pet for you
  • avoid pet scams
  • make sure your new dog isn’t from a puppy farm
  • minimise costly surprises.

What to check before choosing a dog

  • Does the advertisement for the dog have a source number and microchip number? Ask for proof and a signed change of ownership form.
  • Always meet the dog, and its parents if you can, before agreeing to purchase or leave a deposit. Are you satisfied with their living conditions?
  • Ask about the parents’ and dog’s health history? Do they seem happy and healthy? Have they been vaccinated, treated for worms and fleas – is there records to verify?
  • Ask how the dog has been socialised.
  • Look for reviews of the breeder or check their standing with a breed club or organisation where they claim membership.
  • Ask about after purchase information and support. Is there a guarantee to return the dog if it’s unsuitable?
  • It is illegal to sell pets in public places in Victoria without a permit. If the seller suggests meeting somewhere other than a registered domestic animal business or private residence, do not proceed with the sale unless they have and animal sale permit.
  • Register the dog with your local council as soon as you take ownership.

The healthy pet checklist has further information.

Page last updated: 24 Apr 2024