Help keep dogs out of shelters Part I: How to recognize and avoid puppy mills and backyard breeders.

Help keep dogs out of shelters Part I: How to recognize and avoid puppy mills and backyard breeders.


You decided to get a puppy

So you have decided that you want to bring a dog into your life! Maybe you currently have a dog and are planning to add a puppy into your home. That can be a wonderful thing! But it's a complicated world these days! Continue reading this blog to help you recognize and avoid puppy mills, backyard breeders and illegal individual criminals selling puppies.

The demand for companion dogs in North America has exploded in the last 10 years. And even more so during these isolating times of Coronavirus. This heightened desire for companion dogs has consequently driven up the volume of puppy mills, backyard breeders and criminal dog trade activity.

There are puppy mills around the world feeding this demand for companion dogs. And these criminal dog trading organizations are mass transporting large inventories of puppies across the ocean to our shores.

A story on CTV News Click on this recent story demonstrating how puppy mills have become an international problem.

What will you learn from this series?

One of the primary reasons so many dogs end up in shelters is because there are too many puppies being bred by harmful puppy mills and backyard breeders which are abandoned by such enterprises.  It's also because too many people buy puppies inadvertently from such sources and cannot cope with the financial and emtional stress of living with puppies that have poor health or temperament.  As such, you can help drastically reduce the number of dogs ending up in shelters if you know how to recognize and avoid these poor quality and harmful breeders. Because if these businesses don't have customers, they will no longer be profitable to continue operating.

In this series, I will explain what puppy mills and backyard breeders are. And I will show you how to recognize the signs of when a puppy seller is actually a puppy mill, a backyard breeder, or an individual criminal. Then I will help you to recognize a high-quality purebred breeder from which to buy a puppy.

Why should you care?

I know as my readers that you are true dog lovers who care about all aspects of animal husbandry, or you wouldn't be here. That being said, it never hurts to learn more in order to be the best dog parent possible!

Overall, you will learn the main reason to stay clear of these places of origin for your new dog is that you will stop animals from suffering!! As if that is not motivating enough(!!), all this ultimately becomes your problem. Buying from these wretched places, you will receive a dog who is missing the true mental and physical health to live a long, happy life with you!


Want to buy a puppy? Beware of puppy mills and backyard breeders!

Because there are puppy mills and back yard breeders that masquerade as dog "breeders", you need to do some homework prior to choosing the puppy to bring home. But don't worry! I am about to give you some helpful guidelines on how to find a puppy from a reputable breeder.

Avoiding imposter "breeders" when buying a puppy

So what are puppy mills and why do you need to avoid them?

Wikipedia provides an accurate summation of why puppy mills are so reviled by anyone who is informed: "The Veterinary Medical Association of the Humane Society of the United States defines the main characteristics of a puppy mill as "emphasis on quantity over quality, indiscriminate breeding, continuous confinement, lack of human contact and environmental enrichment, poor husbandry, and minimal to no veterinary care."[3]"


Puppy mills generally only breed miniature, toy, and teacup breeds because they can warehouse a larger inventory of small dogs than larger ones. This allows such operations to maximize their profits.

The adult dogs that are kept for breeding usually "live" in small, stacked cages all of their lives without proper medical care, exercise, or socialization with other dogs and humans. In the worst puppy mills, the adult males and females never leave their cages. So, they defecate where they sleep and eat, and likely are never bathed.

Dogs kept in puppy mills do not receive proper medical care or nutrition

To appear legitimate as a "breeder", the dealer will occasionally bring adult dogs to a respectable veterinarian for prevention or medical treatment. This is because the puppy mill does not want to be reported to the authorities if such a veterinarian suspects the "breeder" is operating a puppy mill.

On the other hand, sometimes the puppy mills cook up a business arrangement with an unscrupulous veterinarian who may actually vaccinate the puppies. But this tactic is only employed to sanction their puppy business. And in return, they pay that unethical veterinarian compensation.

But puppy mills are only in existence to make a profit. So, most would not spend the money to pay veterinarians for any comprehensive medical care; they would only partner with vets that will vaccinate the puppies.

And because puppy mills only exist to make a profit from mass breeding, they also likely feed the parents and the puppies the cheapest food possible. This can harm the puppies before they are even born if the female receives poor nutrition while she is pregnant.

How do puppy mills select the dogs for breeding?

Puppy mills do not put any expertise in choosing the adult dogs they acquire to breed. They simply obtain any adult males and females from wherever they can get them as cheaply as possible without any consideration of the quality of their genetic background. This means that the puppies are selected only by minimal criteria such as the appearance of the dogs to ensure that the parents resemble the breeds that people want to buy. And then they sell puppies to the public calling them "purebred" Shitzus, Yorkshire Terriers, etc. Puppy mills also misrepresent mixed breeds such as Standard or Mini Golden-Doodles. By the way, mixed breeds are not a breed! I will discuss this further later in this article...In reality, such puppies are a genetic smorgasbord.

So, if you accidentally buy a puppy from a puppy mill, not only will their true lineage be a mystery, but you will also be contributing to the abuse that dogs and their puppies experience at the hands of these imposter breeders.

Puppies from puppy mills likely have poor health and temperament.

Because puppy mills produce offspring that are from unknown genetics, unsound physical health is the typical result. As well, such puppies can also be genetically disposed to very poor temperament and behavioural tendencies. This is compounded by the poor nutrition the mother receives during pregnancy and the puppies receive once they are on solid foods. Because these puppies are not well cared for and not socialized at all in their formative weeks following birth, you know that permanent emotional and behavioural problems are in store for these innocent puppies!

Life with an unhealthy puppy.

So, if you do inadvertently end up buying a puppy from a puppy mill, you may be acquiring a pet with ongoing health issues. And that means that your dog could be physically and psychologically unwell from puppyhood onward. That's no way for a an animal to live! Plus, you will be faced with high veterinarian bills. Moreover, it will likely be very challenging to counteract the genetic behavioural issues with training.

Coping with puppies that are genetically predisposed to behavioural issues.

And although these puppies look cute and loveable when you first acquire them, you need to understand that they will grow into adult dogs with a potential lifetime of behavioural issues. These can include biting, general aggression, soiling in inappropriate places, etc. You can see how unsuitable they could be as companion dogs.

In such circumstances, most people try everything they can to treat and manage the health issues. They also vainly apply training methods to manage the behavioural issues. Sometimes their efforts are almost herculean because they really want to keep this dog as a pet. But often they end up surrendering it to a rescue shelter because of the high vet bills and/or escalating hostile behaviour that makes the dog unsafe to have in their home.

So you see where this going!

Prevent animal abuse by avoiding puppy mills.

So, I imagine that you now can see the domino effect unleashed if you accidentally buy a puppy from a puppy mill. You would be contributing to that terrible cycle of abuse I described where mistreated dogs produce poor quality, mistreated puppies for sale. In this cycle, the puppies grow into unmanageable adult dogs (either due to poor health with the requisite high vet bills, or behavioural issues that will not respond to training). And sadly, these dogs lose their adoptive family and are dropped off at rescue shelters to endure more stress in their lives.

Stay tuned for the next issue of this series to learn about backyard breeders and why you should avoid them too.