Have you ever heard of the term "backyard breeder"? How about "puppy mill"? In this article we will introduce what backyard breeders are, why you should avoid them, and what alternatives there are when looking to get a new pet.
What are backyard breeders?
Backyard breeding is an amateur form of dog breeding generally performed at home with limited skill or training. For a backyard breeder, the main objective is to gain profit. Backyard breeders breed their dogs often at the expense of the dogs’ health, hygiene, and care, as there is little care given to viral prevention and sanitization. There are two kinds of backyard breeders:
- Active breeders - Deliberate planning for breeding litters to sell.
- Passive breeders - Welcoming litters without intentional provocation (i.e. somewhat of hobby breeders)
What are puppy mills?
Puppy mills are often viewed as an extreme and large-scale version of backyard breeding. While with good reason, there is a fine line between the two. Backyard breeders are usually not as organized nor have a professional approach to breeding. A puppy mill only has one purpose, and it is to produce as many puppies as possible to sell to prospective clients and various pet stores.
Why should we avoid backyard breeders?
- Most backyard breeders do not hold any sort of certification to breed dogs. Their practices are not established on the premise of ethics and animal welfare, but rather on profit.
- With the inbreeding that is inevitable with backyard breeding operations, genetic defects are rampant. Often, backyard breeders will discard a puppy if it is deemed “unsellable.”
- Backyard breeders do not take any responsibility for their dogs’ welfare once the dogs have been sold. This is different from reputable breeders who require families to sign contracts, which often detail what the family should do if they cannot take care of the dog.
- Backyard breeders contribute to the dog overpopulation issue, which subsequently leads to millions of dogs being euthanized in shelters every year when they run out of time.
How do we identify backyard breeders?
- Their dogs have poor health
- Reputable dog breeders always ensure that their puppies are being bred in a safe environment to maintain the dogs’ health. Ill-looking dogs are a massive red flag; this could mean that their living conditions are not ideal.
- They sell puppies before they are 8 weeks old
- Puppies need to stay with their mother until they are at least 8 weeks old. Although puppies can be weaned when they are 5-6 weeks old, they develop their behavior when they are 6-8 weeks old.
- They lack concern for the future of their dogs
- A proper dog breeder always has their dogs’ health and well-being in mind. They will screen potential buyers to find out if they have a suitable home environment and how well the dog(s) will be taken care of to prevent abuse and neglect.
- They do not have veterinary records
- Puppies get their shots, deworming, and first veterinary visit between 6-8 weeks of age.
- They are not able to answer buyers’ questions
- They have no proof of genetic testing or other breeding credentials
- They sell on online shopping websites (ex: Craigslist)
What alternatives do you have?
Some alternatives include:
- The Shelter Pet Project: An online platform where you can search for, learn more about, and meet adoptable animals from local rescues and shelters
- Petfinder: an online platform that allows you to see available animals for adoption from a plethora of animal rescues
- Adopting from a breed-specific rescue
Great alternative if you are looking to get an animal of a specific breed! Please consider adopting a rescue animal
Backyard breeders are often unethical individuals. Even those who are not intentionally looking to harm the puppies often put their profits before the health and care of the puppies they breed. Buying a puppy from a backyard breeder only feeds into this never-ending cycle of unethical breeding. It also means that an increasing number of pets will continue to enter already overcrowded shelters. Thousands of shelter animals, that are often lively and perfectly healthy, are euthanized when their time in the shelter runs out. When looking to adopt a pet, always research, and look for shelters or animal rescues, before making a final decision.
We hope that this article was helpful! Thank you for reading. And remember, adopt, don't shop.
Contributors: Michael L., Samuel Y., Jennifer S., Kelly F., Hannah Y.
Henderson, Ruth, and David Veloz. “The 10 Most Telltale Signs of a Backyard Breeder.” Medium, Creatures, 14 Aug. 2020, medium.com/creatures/the-10-most-telltale-signs-of-a-backyard-breeder-6806afe37faa.
Khalil. “Backyard Breeding - Definition, Laws & Puppy Mills.” Breeding Business, 18 Jan. 2020, breedingbusiness.com/backyard-dog-breeding/.
Stregowski, Jenna. “How to Avoid Irresponsible Dog Breeders.” The Spruce Pets, 26 Sept. 2019, www.thesprucepets.com/signs-of-a-bad-breeder-1117328.
Reskp, Jametlene. https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1525253086316-d0c936c814f8?ixlib=rb-1.2.1&ixid=MXwxMjA3fDB8MHxwaG90by1wYWdlfHx8fGVufDB8fHw%3D&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1350&q=80