The dogs were being transported by suspected illegal animal traders. Police found the pups Monday evening in a Hungarian mini-van in a car park on the A3 motorway near the northern Bavarian town of Erlangen.
According to a report in the Bild newspaper, the purebred animals, which included beagles and dachshunds, were on their way from Hungary to the Netherlands, where they could be sold for several hundred euros each.
Some of the dogs were only three weeks old – in Germany, puppies are only allowed to be taken from their mothers after eight weeks. Police found that the registration documents had been altered accordingly for the transport.
The dogs are now being looked after by an animal home in Nuremberg. “A lot of them are ill,” animal home director Heike Weber told the paper. “They're too young. They have colds, worms, diarrhoea.”
One poodle puppy died in the night.
The Hungarian man driving the vehicle spent one night in jail before being released.