What links Dick Whittington, the London Lord Mayor famous for his cat, with 19th-century dog traders?
The answer is Leadenhall Market.
The market dates back to 1321 when it was situated at the heart of Roman London  on one of those famously straight Roman roads. And in 1408, (which is where our link to Dick Whittington comes in), the ex-Lord Mayor bought the lease for Leadenhall and then gifted it to the City of London, whose control it has been under ever since. By the 1600s Leadenhall Market was booming, selling all manner of meat, livestock, leather, wool, and vegetables. But by the 19th century the noise and smell of the market had become incompatible with the wealth of London’s financial district and a makeover was in order. This took place in the 1880s when architect Sir Horace Jones changed the London landscape by designing the new Leadenhall, Billingsgate, and Smithfield Markets to make them fit for purpose.
So what of our dog tale? Up until the remodeling in the 1880s, Leadenhall, specifically Ship Tavern Walk within the market, was packed with vendors selling pets such as guinea pigs, cats, fancy birds, and dogs.
“Here you shall see…in wicker cages…cocks and hens, ducks, guinea pigs, and puppies that shall astonish you by their amiability. They do not fight, being bound together by a bond of common interest – the desire to get out.” 
With the remodel, the surroundings were marginally less chaotic, but the character of the traders was still much in evidence. Typically they wore large coats with multiple pockets, and it was not unusual to see puppies peeking out of those same pockets.
“Out of those pockets stick puppies/ heads, until the whole creature assumes the appearance of a sort of canine kangaroo…They are very good fellows…” 
The sellers had a typical swagger and were not shy at pulling in the punters. The casual visitor was likely assaulted by a cry of: “Want to buy a little dawg, sir?” When Arthur Hall visited in 1892, he records one seller having a grumpy-looking bulldog that guarded the door, making prospective buyers uncomfortable. One wonders if the dog’s purpose was to make the visitor nervous and more amenable to the suggestions of the vendor, so as to leave in safety.
The Leadenhall traders were enterprising people. They had a reputation for being able to obtain any dog in the world, provided they were given 24-hours’ notice (and enough money!) However, buyers beware because the seller’s gift of banter frequently convinced the gullible that a non-descript canine was indeed a perfect specimen of some rare breed.
And when it came to buying and selling, a dog that was bought as a poor specimen (at a knock-down price) was often resold the next day as a prime example of canine kind (at a higher price.)
“If a man takes a dog there to sell, he will find that the opinion of an expert dealer is…it is too leggy, poor coat, bad markings, wrong size, too snippy in the head, outrageous ears, and altogether rather dear as a gift. But go there a day or two afterward…you will be astounded to hear of the improvement that so short a sojourn has effected …good clean stocky legs, a wonderful coat, perfect marks, correct size and shade, a good broad head, unequaled ears and altogether is a preposterous sacrifice at fifteen guineas.” 
Of course, there were huge welfare issues surrounding the sale of dogs and other animals in these conditions (which is too big a topic to touch on here) but before we feel too outraged and superior, it is worth asking ourselves “How far we have come with regards to selling dogs and their welfare?” With puppy farms rife and internet sales booming, perhaps what we see has changed, but the concerns remain- just in a different form. Food for thought.
 Leadenhall Market The History of Leadenhall Market
 The Strand Magazine. 1892. Arthur Hall Leadenhall Market