Should You Buy a Puppy Without Vaccinations?

should you buy a puppy without vaccinations

There is currently a huge demand for puppies, meaning people will often look to take short-cuts in order to get the dog that want. However, there are some aspects to buying a puppy which should not be overlooked, with one of the most important being their vaccination shots.

Before you buy, please read the following advice about whether you should you buy a puppy without shots.

Should you buy a puppy without vaccinations? A puppy should be vaccinated before you buy it (the first set of shots). Reputable dog breeders will not sell puppies before the age of 8 to 10 weeks. In that time, puppies should have received their first set of vaccination shots for distemper and parvovirus between 6 and 8 weeks. At 10 to 12 weeks, puppies need to get their DHHP vaccinations done. 

Most states and countries even have legal stipulation on the age puppies should be bought and sold (typically no younger than 8 weeks). Due to the age at which puppies have their shots, this means you should not even be offered a puppy for sale without their first set of vaccinations.

What happens if a puppy is not vaccinated before you buy it?

Being a dog owner myself, I know all about distemper and parvo. They’re highly contagious and if your puppy is not vaccinated against these diseases in their first weeks, they run the risk of severe illness and possibly even death.

should you buy a puppy without shots
You should not buy a puppy without them having at least their first batch of shots / vaccinations.

If you are buying a puppy, insist that it has had at least the first batch of vaccination shots which should have been administered before the 8 week mark.

If you’re still wondering if you should buy a puppy without vaccinations, read on.

Why do puppies need to be vaccinated?

If you’ve done your homework, you’ll discover one thing with puppies. You’re going to be spending a lot of time at the vet getting vaccinations and boosters done! While this may seem like a hassle, believe me when I say it’s worthwhile.

The world is full of nasty viruses. We’re facing a monumental one at the moment but let’s not digress here. Puppies are defenseless against a lot of these viruses and so vaccines have been developed to protect them (thank goodness!).

To build up your pup’s resistance to these viruses, you need to make sure they’ve been vaccinated before you buy them, with the first set of shots anyway. Once you get them home, a certain schedule needs to be followed so your pup is protected as soon as possible.

What diseases will my vaccinated puppy be protected from?

Vaccines for dogs have been formulated to protect your puppy (and adult dog) from some of the following conditions:

  • Kennel cough: Caused by bacterial and virus infections, this is an inflammation of the upper airways. It causes your dog to have dry, hacking coughs and if severe, even cause your dog to stop eating. It’s highly contagious and for this reason, you can’t book your dog into boarding kennels if he hasn’t had this vaccination. Parainfluenza contributes to kennel cough.
  • Parvovirus: Puppies under the age of four months old are at high risk of catching this disease if they’ve not been vaccinated against it. This highly contagious virus hits the gastrointestinal system and leads to vomiting, bloody diarrhea and loss of appetite. There’s no cure and your dog can die within 48 to 72 hours of catching this virus.
  • Canine distemper: Another highly contagious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal system, the nervous system and the respiratory system. There’s no cure and symptoms include discharge from the eyes and nose, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and even paralysis.
  • Hepatitis: A viral infection that attacks the liver, kidneys, lungs, spleen and eyes of the dog. There’s no cure and if severe, your dog can die from this disease. Symptoms include enlargement of the stomach, pain around the liver area, vomiting, and jaundice.
  • Rabies: This is a viral infection that attacks the central nervous system. An infected dog will experience severe headaches, anxiety attacks, hallucinations, excessive drooling, fear of water, paralysis and death.

I don’t know about you, but after reading this list of horrific diseases, I certainly wouldn’t want to buy a puppy that hasn’t had their first shots.

When do puppies need to be vaccinated?

Vaccines and boosters are scheduled to be given at certain ages to be most effective. While this schedule may change slightly in different countries, here’s a general guideline:

  • Six to eight weeks: Distemper and parvovirus.
  • Ten to twelve weeks: DHPP (this covers your pup for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza.
  • Sixteen to eighteen weeks: DHPP and rabies.
  • Twelve to sixteen months: DHPP and rabies
  • Every one to two years: DHPP
  • Every one to three years: Rabies

I’ve already mentioned that parvo and distemper are nasty diseases and not easily treated if your puppy or dog gets them. Rabies is another disease you don’t want your dog getting plus it’s a requirement by law your dog is vaccinated against this viral disease.

Can I get my puppy vaccinated at an older age?

Your puppy will initially have some immunity against various diseases because of the antibodies passed through to them from their mother in the placenta. However, this wears off and by the time their around 16 weeks old, they no longer have this protection.

To ensure your puppy has the antibodies required to fight against certain viruses, it’s essential to follow a set schedule as mentioned above. Your puppy needs to be vaccinated every two to four weeks from six to eight weeks old until their 16 weeks old.

If you miss a vaccine (and, hey, that happens when life gets complicated), then make sure you follow up as soon as possible. Your vet will also then booster it two weeks later. This will ensure your puppy will develop the necessary antibody response.

A responsible doggie owner would make sure their puppy is vaccinated at the right times to ensure they get the antibody response they need to protect them.

What happens if I buy a puppy not vaccinated?

Sometimes, it’s unavoidable buying a puppy without vaccinations. Whatever the reason though, it’s advisable to speak to your vet as soon as possible. They’ll be able to set up a proper vaccination schedule for your puppy.

In the meantime, avoid taking your puppy anywhere where they may come into contact with other dogs or animals. Keep them at home until all their vaccinations are up to date.

This way, you are protecting your puppy from the risk of catching any of the contagious diseases mentioned in this article.

Is ok to walk a puppy before vaccinations?

You can walk the puppy in your own garden before vaccinations, but not in public. You need to make sure that they do not come into contact with older dogs before their shots to eliminate the risk of injection.

I explain this in more detail in a different blog post.

Questions to ask a breeder before buying

When you decide to buy a puppy with or without vaccination shots, consider asking some of the questions listed below to help you make the right choice when picking a pup:

  • Is the puppy registered with a recognized registry organization? This is useful to know if you’re looking for a purebred puppy.
  • Has the puppy had all their first shots? Do they have papers to prove it?
  • Has the puppy undergone a full health screening with a vet? Can you see the report?
  • Can they share the vet’s details so you can ask questions about the puppy and his parents?
  • Has the puppy been microchipped?

A good dog breeder will also ask you loads of questions so be prepared! They’ll want to know their properly vaccinated puppies are going to a good home.


The other day I was helping my friend decide on which puppy to buy. This was his first experience in buying a pup and he wanted to do it right. He was very thorough, checking out the breeders’ details and asking lots of questions about the parents.

While my friend is not particular about his puppy being purebred, he did want to know the puppy has had all his first shots.

Most times, he (and I) were impressed by the responses. In general, it seems like dog breeders take their litters seriously.

However, occasionally he came across breeders who said their puppies would only be vaccinated once the new owner took their pup home. This got us talking about the idea that some new owners may buy a puppy without having vaccinations done.

Please don’t buy a puppy without vaccinations.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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