Say ‘NO!’ to puppy farms

What is a puppy farm?

  • A puppy farmer is a generic term for anyone who’s primary purpose for breeding is to make money.
  • Caring for puppies, adult dogs and new owners often takes a secondary concern to this goal.
  • They’re hard to spot as they can take many formats, both large-scale and small-scale!

What’s wrong with puppy farming?

  • They are cruel – Farmed puppies and adults may have their welfare needs ignored.
  • Farmed puppies are more likely to carry deadly diseases. When raised in dirty conditions/mass produced, they are more likely to catch diseases/parasites which can kill them – and some which they can pass to their new human owners, too!
  • Farmed puppies are more likely to be prone to genetic health problems.
  • Farmers typically ‘save’ money by not health testing for known disorders within the breed, breeding dogs too young before they know how healthy they are, or inbreeding (saves on cost of buying in breeding stock/stud fees).
  • Inbreeding (breeding relatives together) causes an increase in autoimmune disorders, cancers, organ failures, skeletal deformities like undershot jaw, and multi-gene disorders like epilepsy.
  • Farmed puppies are more prone to behaviour problems as pets. This is due to both inherited traits (a farmer doesn’t care-or know enough – about his/her dog’s personalities to breed for good pet temperament) and also a stressful/barren living environment stunting their mental development.
  • Puppy farmers usually offer little/no ‘aftercare’. If things go wrong, you’re on your own!

Spotting a puppy farmer:

  • PEDIGREES don’t always matter – a pedigree certificate doesn’t guarantee that the puppies have been raised in a happy home. Still check the breeder out carefully.
  • A COUNCIL LICENCE doesn’t guarantee quality either. Many councils don’t closely check licenced breeders and will allow them to breed many dogs for commercial gain.

3 common types of farmer:

1: the mass breeder

Of course rows of dirty cages are easy to identify, but many mass breeders are good business people and know how to ‘keep up appearances’.

Check for:

  • Breeding with many dogs of different breeds.
  • Producing multiple litters at one time/ per year– how can they give all their ‘babies’ individual time?
  • Refusing to let you come to their home/view all facilities/offering to drive pup to you
  • Keeping lots of dogs in cages/kennels/pens (unless a working breed. But if you’re looking for a pet, you want to buy pups that have been raised as pets!)
  • If breeder says multiple dogs are ‘free range’, rather than caged, CHECK this. Maybe they’re caged when visitors aren’t present! Does the house show signs of dog damage? Does the garden show signs of ‘wear’ from dogs playing/toileting?

2: the small-scale farmer

Size doesn’t always matter! Some farmers ‘use up’ small numbers of breeding dogs quickly, then get rid and start with a new batch. These breeding dogs may live in the home and seem well loved, but they’re NOT pets and WON’T have a home there for life!

Check for:

  • Find out how long they have been breeding. If it’s a long time, question where their older breeding dogs are. Have they simply ‘got rid’ of older dogs when they are useless for breeding?

3: the salesperson

These people may buy puppies cheap from mass farmers to sell on, pretending to ‘home rear’.

Check for:

  • Puppies should be WITH THEIR MUM – you should be able to see from their behaviour that they are a family (some puppy sellers have a ‘fake’ mum in their home)

Finding a good breeder

  • Google health tests for the breed you’re interested in before you visit. A good breeder will invest in health testing and will show you all health test certificates for both parents. THESE are the MOST IMPORTANT documents to see. The Pedigree is important for pets mainly to check there is no INBREEDING (the same name appearing multiple times)
  • A genuine breeder will always let you see puppies in their home. Check pups seem ‘at home’ there, and check for ‘puppy damage’ such a chewed furniture etc. – are the pups really living there?
  • Healthy puppies should be clean, friendly and with clear nose/eyes/bottom.
  • Puppies should have a separate bed and toilet area, toys, and plenty of space to explore and develop their motor skills (not just a small pen)
  • Puppies should be wormed regularly, be microchipped before coming to you and usually given 1st vaccination.
  • Breeder should never allow puppies to leave home until at least 8 weeks.
  • A good breeder will be able to tell you about the character and personalities of the puppies, because s/he should have spent time with them!
  • A good breeder will have started toilet training, feeding manners training and even basic obedience like ‘come’ and ‘wait’.
  • A good breeder will CARE about where their babies go – so expect the ‘spanish inquisition’ and a strict sales contract.

Natalie Lagstrom
BSc(hons)Behavioural Science
MSc Animal Behaviour