Does it really make a difference where you get puppy, provided you find the breed you want?
Yes, absolutely. If you’re not planning to breed the dog to produce winning show dogs or dependable working dogs, it might seem unimportant to seek out a breeder who strives to improve the breed with each litter. Actually, it’s vitally important, and ignoring this concern can lead to sad times and training problems in your home.
Puppy Mills are nothing new. These mass dog-breeding operations have been around for decades. They continue to thrive because they prey on unwitting consumers who are smitten by too-cute-for-words puppies in pet store windows and on Fancy Websites. They can rage from twenty to thousands of dogs living in very poor conditions. The key element of a puppy mill is the living conditions and the mental state of puppies and dogs living in this environment.
So what are puppy mills?
The term puppy mill is a label that every breeder denies applies to them.
Every pet shop denies that their puppies come from puppy mills. So what exactly is a puppy mill?
Other names for this type of breeding operation might be puppy farm (sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?) and commercial breeder (sounds professional). Wherever dogs are produced for profit, the animals May be at risk. Puppy mill facilities can rage from twenty to thousands of dogs living in very poor conditions. Being USDA licensed just means that this is their income and they do it for a living. Even the USDA regulation just focuses on cage size, number of dogs, and that each dog is some how identified. Either by tattoo, microchip, or chain collar with an ID number. They do not care about the genetic health, socialization, exercise, and the dog’s companionship!
It’s seldom profitable to breed dogs humanely and responsibly. The profit comes when dogs live their lives in cages, rather than with human companionship. The profit comes when commercial operations provide only the minimum requirements to keep a dog alive and able to breed. Filth, loneliness, fear, and pain constitute the typical life these dogs know.
Puppies produced in this situation have the wrong start in life. Experiences in the early weeks are critical to a dog’s development. Commercially bred puppies miss vital experiences they need during the first twelve weeks, and they are exposed to experiences that harm their emotional stability for companionship and a home environment. One experience many of them have to endure is being taken away from their mother and littermates far too early in order to be in the pet shop on display for sale at the “cutest” time.
Behavior problems you may experience with a puppy from this source include housetraining issues because the puppy has been confined in an unsuitable condition. This causes damage to the pup’s natural instincts to keep the den area clean. These pups have also typically missed important conditioning to appropriate surfaces for defecation and urination, like grass.
Responsible breeders only reproduce with dogs whom have lived normal socialized lives around children, people, other dogs, cats, strangers, and unexpected situations. If the temperament of either parent isn’t safe around children, a responsible breeder will not use the dog for breeding. Dogs in a commercial breeding operation do not live normal lives, so the breeders do not know whether the dogs they use for breeding have reliable temperaments for a home or family life. Decisions about which male to use with which female are based on profitability (how many puppies they can get in how short a time), leaving genetic issues for the unsuspecting puppy buyers to worry about later.
The physical problems that result from a poor start in life as well as poor genetic selection of the parent dogs can also profoundly affect the behavior of a puppy bred by a commercial breeder. Pain and fear cause dogs to react defensively. Dogs don’t show their pain in the same ways that people do, and often a change in behavior is the first sign-sometimes the only sign-that the dog is ill or has a genetically based health issue.
Responsible breeders make their breeding choices based on producing puppies with the genetics for both good health and good temperament. Responsible breeders will be there for you later if there are problems. A responsible breeder will place each pup personally, not through a third party such as a pet shop or dog broker. The commercial breeder is not interested in any problems you have beyond the time your purchase check has been cashed.
What are the Red Flags that tell you that you might be dealing with a puppy mill?
If someone either, does not have pictures of parents on the website or on site, tries to just show pictures of the puppies they have for sale, and they breed more than two breeds then you have the right to be suspicious that it is a puppy mill.
If someone says that they are family operated be cautious. Most puppy mills are family operated and the children are raise in an environment that the dogs are just income and farm animals like rabbits or cattle. Many puppy mills have the dogs living in cages and rabbit hutches.
These puppies usually don’t get proper handling and are un-socialized. I have personally been to puppy mills and have seen the conditions that these poor animals are kept in. The large dogs live in dog pens with four or more dogs in each kennel. Dogs are pack animals but they need stimulation and ways to release energy. These puppy mill dogs live and stay their whole lives in these cages. Most of them find some sort of way to relive their stress and energy. By pacing 24/7, licking themselves 24/7, barking 24/7, or even eating each other. They literally go insane. If I was buying a puppy I would not want my puppy to be raise and taken care of a dog that has been traumatized this much by their living environment.
When I first began, I purchased a five year old male Siberian Husky, Mister. The kennel was a family operated kennel in which they were changing to small breed because they ate less and took up less space. The family was also Mennonite which is a member of a Protestant denomination, so in some cases religion doesn’t faze or matter on the way people take care of their animals.
Mister was terrified of the out side world. He would not let me pet him nor did he know how to walk on a leash. Every time I tried to touch him he would try his best to pull away and hide in the corner. It took me Two Years to get him to trust me and let me walk him and as well as pet him. Even then I would have to talk quiet and crouch down for him to approach me.
While I was also rescuing dogs from puppy mills, I personally witness a sheltie that was kept in a cage her entire life and even when I took her in she ran in circles to cop with excitement and stress. I also took in many dogs than weren’t properly groomed.
It was very unfortunate that I had to learn the hard way and go through this type of experience. I know it is very difficult to witness and feel the pain for the many dogs that are kept and produce with no thought for their own welfare. Please take great consideration when adding a new addition to your family.
DOG BREEDER definitions
It’s deceptively easy to say that John Jones or Mary Smith runs a puppy mill or that pet store puppies come from puppy mills, but the label is tossed about so frequently and with so little regard for accuracy that each prospective dog owner should ascertain for himself whether or not he wishes to buy a dog from John Jones, Mary Smith, a pet store, or a hobby breeder. Here are our Dog Owner’s Guide definitions to help you decide:
Hobby breeder: A breed fancier who has a breed or two (or even three); follows a breeding plan to preserve and protect each breed; produces a limited number of litters each year; breeds only when a litter will enhance the breed and the breeding program; raises the puppies with plenty of environmental stimulation and human contact; has a contract that protects breeder, puppy, and buyer; raises dog in the house or runs a small, clean kennel; screens breeding stock to eliminate hereditary defects; works with a breed club or kennel club to promote and protect the breed; and cares that each and every puppy is placed in the best home possible.
Commercial breeder: One who usually has several breeds of dogs with profit as the primary motive for existence. Commercial breeders that are inspected by USDA, state agencies, or the American Kennel Club should have adequate conditions. Commercial breeders that sell directly to the public fall through the regulatory cracks unless they do business in a state that licenses commercial kennels. Dogs in these kennels may be healthy or not and their conditions may be acceptable or not. The dogs are probably not screened for genetic diseases, and the breeding stock may or may not be selected for resemblance to the breed standard or for good temperament.
Broker: One who buys puppies from commercial kennels and sells to retail outlets or other kennels. Brokers ship puppies on airlines or by truckload throughout the country. Brokers must be licensed by USDA and must abide by the shipping regulations in the Animal Welfare Act.
Buncher: One who collects dogs of unknown origin for sale to laboratories or other bunchers or brokers. Bunchers are considered lower on the evolutionary scale than puppy mill operators, for there is much suspicion that they buy stolen pets, collect pets advertised as “Free to a good home,” and adopt unwanted pets from animal shelters for sale to research laboratories. USDA licenses and inspects bunchers to make sure that they abide by the AWA.
Amateur breeder: A dog owner whose pet either gets bred by accident or who breeds on purpose for a variety of reasons. This breeder may be ignorant of the breed standard, genetics, behavior, and good health practices. An amateur breeder can very easily become a hobby breeder or a commercial breeder, depending on his level of interest or need for income.
A real puppy mill: A breeder who produces puppies with no breeding program, little attention to puppy placement, and poor health and socialization practices. Conditions in puppy mills are generally substandard and may be deplorable, and puppies and adult dogs may be malnourished, sickly, and of poor temperament.
If you think you’ve found a real puppy mill with trashy conditions and sickly puppies and wish to report it, see “How to stop a puppy mill.”
Puppy mills are nothing new. These mass dog-breeding operations have been around for decades. They continue to thrive because they prey on unwitting consumers who are smitten by too-cute-for-words puppies in pet store windows and on fancy websites.