Where Can I Get Free Puppies?

You might find puppies offered free at an adoption event, by a friend or on the Internet, but are free puppies really, truly free? Let's take a closer look.


One of the 20th-century’s greatest literary voices — I can’t remember off the top of my head whether it was Flannery O’Connor or Stevie Nicks — once wrote that there’s nothing cheaper than free. This statement may be true in theory, but puppies are not theoretical. They are living, breathing creatures who will depend on you for everything, from food and shelter to love and exercise. If you’ve come here today asking, “Where can I get free puppies?” and are looking for definite answers about getting free puppies, you’re out of luck. You will surely get some vague ones, along with some useful alternatives.

A litter or a group of puppies.
Are free puppies truly free? Photography ©LivingImages | E+ / Getty Images.

Free puppies — some facts upfront

Why would we deny you certainties when it comes to free puppies? The answer is simple. Yes, it is possible to locate and bring home free puppies that cost you nothing upfront. But there are always costs associated with pet ownership. Whether the friend you seek is a cute puppy, lizard, fish, or dwarf hamster, any pet you adopt has needs and providing for them always incurs costs, both financial and otherwise. For puppy ownership, you can expect to lay out money on:

  1. Vaccinations
  2. Spay or neuter operations
  3. Food
  4. Bedding
  5. Toys and other accessories
  6. License/registration

There are other costs tied to adopting a new puppy that aren’t strictly financial. These include investing the time, effort, and patience required for:

  1. Training
  2. Housetraining
  3. Regular exercise
  4. Grooming and bathing

The myth of free puppies

First, we should investigate what motivates people to go in search of free puppies. Is it the initial investment that drives people to inquire about free puppies or cheap puppies or low-cost puppy adoptions? Is it the assumption that getting a dog involves a major one-time price tag that can potentially run into hundreds, even thousands of dollars?

The popular or highly visible dog breeds that we see participating in televised dog shows, commercials, television, or movies drive these notions. This is reinforced by the strange idea that purebred dogs are somehow superior to mixed breeds, mutts, dogs with previous owners, shelter or rescue dogs. And then there’s the idea that adopting a puppy is a better or more authentic experience than bringing home an adult or senior dog. None of these assumptions are quantifiably or objectively true.

The real financial costs of free puppies

Even if you do acquire free puppies, raising live creatures involves substantive investments. Caring and feeding any dog requires money. There are also significant costs in terms of your time, energy, and patience. From a strictly financial perspective, an article by the American Kennel Club details the two veterinary students’ efforts, Kelly Giffear and Brittany Scott of the University of Pennsylvania, to determine the real costs of dog ownership.

This study differentiates between costs of owning a dog based on size and lifespan, ranging from small dogs right through to giant breeds. Expenses were further broken down by dogs’ most basic needs, from food and essential veterinary services to bedding and toys. They determined that the average cost of dog ownership in the first year alone comes out to $3,085. This amount, it goes without saying, puts the lie to the very notion of a free puppy.

  Related: How to Stop Toy Guarding in Puppies

On average, Giffear and Scott estimated that the lifetime expenses associated with raising a dog come out to $23,410. Other sites have attempted to calculate the cost of dog ownership, such as this one from 2011, which has a much higher total, factoring in dog health insurance costs. As far as my own research can find, Giffear and Scott’s findings are the most current systematic and rational attempts to truly price out the real costs of dog ownership, both in the first year and over the life of the dog.

Yes, you can technically get free puppies

Technically, of course, if you are not insistent on a particular breed or mix, you can find free dogs of all ages and sizes. “Where can I get free puppies?” you ask?

Keep an eye out for adoption-fee free events at your local shelters. This is the most responsible way to go about getting free puppies.

You can also ask your friends, coworkers and general acquaintances to keep their ears to the ground for you. Someone’s dog is bound to have puppies eventually, and those puppies will need new homes after they wean, around the age of 8 to 12 weeks.

You might also thumb through a daily or weekly newspaper published in your area. Whether that’s a paper with a wide regional circulation, or a local alt-weekly, these publications typically contain at least one page of classifieds. Among them, you’re very likely to find a section dedicated to, or featuring, dogs in need of adoption. Some ads are literally labeled, “Puppies free to good home.”

Craigslist is another potential venue to locate free, cheap or low-cost puppies. However, you should be especially careful when researching free puppies on the internet, on something like Craigslist.  If you choose this route, read the listing in full and ask as many relevant questions as possible. Why are they giving the dog away? Is he vaccinated, spayed or neutered?

Valuable alternatives to free puppies

Are you a first-time or prospective dog owner? There are options and alternatives to free puppies that can acclimate you or your children to the experience of living with a dog without incurring the obligations associated with adopting a baby puppy. For example:

  • Fostering a dog: You can work with a local shelter or rescue and take a puppy or dog into your home on a limited basis. This can give you a taste of dog or puppy ownership without the lifetime commitment.
  • Visit or volunteer at a dog shelter or rescue: There are many nonprofit, no-kill shelters nationwide that are always looking for dependable and devoted volunteers. The fact that there are rescue organizations dedicated to specific breeds means that you can get exposure to the minutiae of a dog breed without leaping headlong into ownership.

Engaging in time-limited activities with reputable organizations like these in your area can prepare you for the responsibility and investment involved in the long-haul of puppy or dog ownership.

And, bottom line, there are truly no free puppies!

Top photograph: ©Photology1971 | Getty Images.

Originally published in 2015. 

Read Next: Will Your Puppy Outgrow These Bad Behaviors?

295 thoughts on “Where Can I Get Free Puppies?”

  1. I lost my wife of cancer on the 12 th of November on the 15th of November my house caught on fire burning down and killing my Labrador emotional support dog and chihuahua of my wife I'm really lost without him but would like to start over again I would really love to have I love your mix puppy black with white chest I have moved into a new home and have playroom finishing yard and I love animals and they will love me

  2. Seeking "non dog show quality" Boston Terrier males with unique markings and typical rambunctious, affectionate personalities. Neutering is not a priority if he is a puppy. Text Tony @ (781)690-2571

  3. I'm perfectly aware of the cost and responsibilities of pet ownership. I just lost my best friend he was 15 . I'm trying to locate another as I also suffer from Anxiety and Depression which he was a big help with and I'm already noticing his absence in my life.

  4. I live in a remote village in the Philippines, and it's normal for puppies to be given away, but they're all mutts =b

    I got one a couple weeks ago and she's great, named Barbie. She runs around playing with kids and other dogs, and sniffs around looking for bones and other food in her spare time (and yes, I feed her.)

    Eventually when she grows up, I'll give away her puppies too!

  5. Yeah, such a condescending post. Of course it costs money to get food, bedding, medical treatments, etc. However, when somebody asks about a "free" puppy, they are inquiring about obtaining it for free.

  6. I`m interested in a free puppy for my little girl <3 thank you for sharing this awesome article with all information where i can find them. Keep doing this great job! <3

  7. I m looking to adopt a puppy or Labra ,pomerian or golden retriever if any one wants to adopt their dog for free plz contact me 8375076443 m currently liv in DELHI NCR

  8. Looking for a sweet Mut to love ! Sacramento area! If you know of a small dog please let me know! Yellowbrickityroad@gmail.com Thank you, Teri

  9. I have puppies but they are not free. My Australian Shepherd, that I spent $1500 for initial purchase price, is the Father of the litter. The mother is a wolf-dog. We are selling the puppies for $300.00 which we feel is a steal because the cost that goes into puppy raising. Dog food is $2.25 lb. The Mother dog’s veterinarian care has been quite substantial during the process of raising this litter. As of right now, my puppies have not yet been advertised, but will be listed on local puppy sites in a few weeks. This litter is a must see. Keep in mind that a healthy puppy is less expensive over long term. I live in the Anderson, SC area. Day phone (864)37nine-8four94. Text (864) 3zero9- 9two67.

  10. Sửa Chữa Máy Lọc Nước Tại Nhà

    Thông tin của bạn thật là hữu ích. Hãy ra thật nhiều bài viết để giúp chúng tôi

  11. Paula K L’Heureux

    I am looking for a puppy for me and my two boys i live in portland please contact me if. You have or know someone 9714077689

  12. Paula K L’Heureux

    I am looking for a puppy for me and my two boys i live in portland please contact me if. You have or know someone 9714077689

  13. Do u ship puppy to japan ? Because my daughter’s birthday is in 2 months. She really wants a cute tiny happy. Do u happen to have a little black cute puppy.

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