Did Your Puppy Come From A Puppy Mill?

10 Signs That A Puppy Is From a Puppy Mill

So you are looking for a puppy, maybe you’re a first time dog owner. You have heard about puppy mills and know they are bad. But what you don’t know is how to make sure you don’t accidentally buy from one. Puppy mill breeders can be deceptive.

Here are 10 signs to help you determine if the puppy you are looking at is from a puppy mill or not.

#1 – Out-of-State

You really should just stay away from pet stores when buying a puppy. Be especially worried if those puppies are coming from out-of-state, particularly Midwest states (Missouri and Illinois are two of the biggest).

Puppies in a pet shop are cute, but they are probably from a puppy mill.
Just pass from shopping at pet stores that ‘sell’ puppies. They are probably mostly from puppy mills.

#2 – No Parents

If the breeder cannot let you meet the parents, you should walk away. Not meeting the parents is like buying a car without knowing the make. Don’t do it. For all you know, these people did not even breed the puppy, but are selling him secondhand for unknown reasons.

Adorable puppies on top while their parents' pictures on bottom are of uncared for dogs.

#3 – Let’s Meet

Puppy mill puppies are usually sold in parking lots and away from the home and parents.

If you call a breeder and they say “let’s meet somewhere” when you ask to visit their kennel, it’s a puppy mill. Usually they will try to get you to meet in a store parking lot or a park. Unless there are extreme circumstances, there is no reason why you should not see where your puppy was born.

#4 – Several Breeds

The puppy mill's back yard with many different breeds in small cages.

Reputable breeders focus on one breed, maybe two, MAX. If you find a site offering five different breeds (and their mixes!), it’s a puppy mill.

#5 – Multiple Litters

Multiple puppies in small cages stacked up four high and five across.

When you call the breeder and ask if they have puppies, do they respond with “I have one litter coming, but there is already a waiting list” or “oh yes, I have 3 litters on the ground and 2 more on the way”? If the breeder has 30 puppies, that is definitely a puppy mill.

#6 – Vaccinations

Puppy mills like to get rid of puppies before they are eligible for vaccines.

Puppy mills don’t like to spend money, it deters from profits. So the parents may not be vaccinated (you should ask!) and the puppies probably are not. Or, conversely, they have so many puppies they lost track and your pup got vaccinated twice.

#7 – Extreme Promises

German Shepard on the left that was promised and a chihuahua on the right that the puppy turned out to be.
Puppy Mill person: “Sure, it’s a German Shepard that will get up to 90lbs.” Owner: “Well, my German Shepard turned out to be 30lbs and a chihuahua mix.”

Be wary about the breeder promising a certain size, temperament, or characteristic that seems extreme. For example, a dog came into her clinic that was supposed to be a Pomeranian and Husky mix that the breeder had promised would never grow over than 7 pounds. She was 42 pounds.

#8 – Cleanliness

About Reputable Breeders, Backyard Breeders, Puppy Mills/Commercial Pet  Stores
Go with your gut feeling about how the puppies look like.

This goes for the dog and the breeder’s home or kennel. Puppies from puppy mills are more likely to smell like a kennel and have poor coat quality.

#9 – Contract

Puppy Paperwork: Contracts, Certificates & Microchipping.

Your breeder should care enough about what happens to the puppy that they have a contract protecting both you and them. Reputable breeders have a spay/neuter agreement, breed papers, health contract, and a request that you return the dog to them if it doesn’t work out (rather than dumping him at the shelter).

#10 – Too Young

6 Week Old Pitbull Puppies on a blanket.
These little pit bull puppies are only 6 weeks old. Puppy mills sell them before they are able to get vaccines.

Another way they can cut their costs is by giving you the puppy early, because they do not have to feed them, give them shots, etc. Question any breeder wanting to give you the puppy before they are eight weeks old. This is the minimum age you should be taking a puppy from their mother and litter-mates.


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