RESEARCHERS have set out the harmful effects of puppy farms on the long-term health of dogs.

Every year at least 17,680 puppies are advertised for sale, with an average cost of £817, according to a report compiled by academics for the Scottish Government. They do not know how much of the £13 million trade in Scotland is illegal.

Dogs that have come from puppy farms are often cheaper than a Kennel Club registered breeder, but the Scottish SPCA’s head of education and policy, Gilly Mendes Ferreira, said the welfare of those animals was often neglected.

“The barbaric and cruel trade in puppies needs to stop,” she said.

“Week after week, animal rescue organisations across the UK and Ireland and devastated owners are picking up the pieces of a multi-million pound industry which treats these dogs as nothing more than commodities, with no concern at all for animal welfare.”

Dr Jo Williams, senior lecturer in Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Our research has now proven that dogs from puppy farms have more behavioural issues and are more likely to have medical conditions impacting their long-term health compared to dogs from other breeding backgrounds.”

The research came as Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham opened Scotland’s first K9 Conference, hosted by the Scottish SPCA and the University of Edinburgh.

In her speech Cunningham said the government was “determined to crack down on animal traffickers”,

She added: “As outlined in the Programme for Government, we will work with charities and enforcement agencies to take forward the recommendations on illegal importation and sale from ‘puppy farms’. This will include a national campaign to highlight the risk of buying puppies online and rehoming dogs from abroad.”

Last month Christopher Gorman of North Lanarkshire was given a lifetime ban on keeping animals and a £2600 fine.

The puppy trader was found guilty of allowing the death of a puppy in his care and repeatedly striking dogs with a large piece of wood.