What is a puppy mill?

A puppy mill, sometimes known as a puppy farm, is a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis on profits above animal welfare and is often in substandard conditions regarding the well being of dogs in their care. In puppy mills, females are sometimes bred every time they are in heat to increase profits, resulting in gradually decreasing litter sizes. As puppies, mill dogs are also often weaned from their mothers well before the eight to ten weeks recommended. Dogs in puppy mills are often bred indiscriminately. While the puppies produced may come with pedigrees, the pedigree itself is neither an indication of quality nor authenticity. Pet stores selling these dogs may be unaware of breeding conditions.

Due to the poor breeding conditions in puppy mills, puppies bred there often suffer from health and/or social problems. Puppies raised in cramped environments shared by many other dogs become poorly socialized to dogs and humans. As the surviving mill dogs grow older, they are more prone to developing respiratory ailments and pneumonia. Puppies from mills are usually sold as purebred dogs in an attempt to attract the higher prices associated with purebreds. However, due to the indiscriminate breeding practices of puppy mills, the dog may not actually be a purebred puppy. “dealers” sell the vast majority of puppy mill animals to pet stores. Dealers disguised as authentic breeders sell some puppies.

What is a backyard breeder?

Backyard breeder is a term used for breeders of dogs in a largely critical sense by the Animal Welfare community, SPCA, larger established breeders and dog clubs. They are usually referred to as not being a reputable breeder.

It implies either or both of careless home breeding for non-commercial reasons or a small commercial operation that does not adhere to good breeding, care and sales practices. In contrast, larger commercial operations of similar types are usually termed as puppy mills.

This type of breeder is usually exhibits one or more of the following faults:

  • Ignorance of selective breeding goals and techniques
  • Lack of knowledge of the breed standard of the type of dog being bred
  • Little genetic screening
  • Breeding of a working breed for appearance rather than working ability
  • Lack of adequate veterinary care and maintenance
  • Excessive breeding from individual bitches, to the detriment of their health
  • Sale of puppies with genetic disorders or undisclosed illnesses
  • Lack of screening of potential owners
  • Do no provide suitable information to prevent buyers from purchasing a dog that may be inappropriate for them or their lifestyle
  • Breeding without concern for the possibility of finding homes, through commercial means or otherwise, thus adding to the population of unwanted dogs