What is a Puppy Mill?


Keep in mind, commercial breeders (puppy mills) treat their dogs as livestock and are breeding for one purpose only -- to make a profit.  It is the focus on profit, not quality dogs, that is the distinguishing feature of a puppy mill.  There are two ways to increase profit - increase production or cut costs.

The pictures below show you some of the HORRENDOUS living conditions of dogs in puppy mills.


Here are some tips to determine if you are looking at a mill or a broker's website instead of that of a responsible breeder.

Multiple breeds are the first indication. A good breeder rarely has more than two or possibly three breeds on which they focus their attention and energies. A lot of work goes into a well-bred dog. 

The number of breeds available. If a site tells you they work with many different breeders, think twice.  Good breeders do not sell their puppies through other people. They want to know who will be purchasing their puppies. They want to make the best decisions possible for their dogs’ offspring. Multiple breeds and breeders on a website suggest a broker is at work or that you've come upon a mill operation.

Availability of puppies. A responsible breeder rarely has puppies immediately available.  If you find a site touting "Many puppies now available," think twice before deciding to buy. The only place you find multiple puppies on hand most or all of the time is a puppy mill, a pet store, or a "backyard breeder" whose purpose is also to make money.

Location says a lot. A reputable breeder NEVER sells to a pet store, auction, or flea market OR takes their puppies there for sale.  If the person selling the dog didn't breed it, or if the 'breeder' takes a puppy to such an outlet, do not buy it.  

Newspaper advertising. A reputable breeder does not NEED to place newspaper ads! Their litters are usually spoken for prior to the birth of the puppies.

Advertisement of mixed breeds, particularly when they're touted as being healthier simply because of their mixed breed heritage, is a sign of a commercial breeder.  Hybrid vigor is an old and flawed argument.  Mixed breeds are just as likely to have genetic impairments as purebred dogs.  What is important is the health testing done for the parents prior to breeding.

Age matters. A good breeder never allows their puppies to leave their mother before at least eight (8) weeks of age. Even if  puppies are weaned, they are learning about social behavior from their mother.  Bite inhibition is an important lesson missed by puppies in a pet store or from a backyard breeder that takes puppies away from their mother sometimes as young as three to four weeks of age.  Puppies need to be with their mother to learn about the world.

No information on health testing or a simple statement that all puppies are "healthy and guaranteed" is a sign of a possible mill,  broker, or backyard breeder.  Ask for specifics on what the guarantee means.  Never trust somebody who tells you their breed has no problems.  All breeds have genetic predisposition to some diseases and/or congenital conditions.  What is important is the health testing done for the parents prior to breeding. Information on testing should be stated and the results made available to you before purchase.

No reputable breeder will sell a puppy online.  A reputable breeder wants to talk to you and make sure you are a good fit for one of their precious puppies.  If you can put down a deposit and buy a puppy online without the breeder screening you, beware.  If all they care about is getting your money-you are not dealing with a reputable breeder.