You’ve got your heart set on a puppy and are looking around for a place to get one. You may have heard about puppy mills, and that you should avoid them, but perhaps you don’t really know what they are or why they are so bad.
Puppy mills are large scale commercial dog breeding facilities operated solely for profit. The sad thing about such places is that the people who run them have little to no concern for the welfare of the animals involved. The dogs are often malnourished and kept in terrible conditions.
So now you know you definitely want to avoid these types of places, here are some tips for spotting them.
Check the ad
As puppy mills are all about profit, dogs are continuously bred with no recovery time in between litters. This means that there is always a ready supply of puppies for sale and so a lot of advertisements.
So, one quick-fire way of ensuring you’re not dealing with a bad breeder from the get-go is to check the number on the ad – if you search it and get several recent hits, then you know to avoid them.
Something else to look out for is the picture. Puppy mills often use high-quality stock photographs in their advertisements (like the one used in this blog). If you suspect this is the case, then be wary of the seller.
Question the seller
A keen owner or licensed breeder will likely know a great deal about their breed. Come equipped with plenty of questions to check they know their stuff. Ask them if they do health tests on their dogs’ hips, eyes, etc.
A clear giveaway for a bad breeder or puppy mill is that they probably won’t ask you very many questions. Any legitimate seller will be concerned about the future welfare of the pups and will want to make sure that they are going to a suitable home.
Visit the facility
Be cautious of breeders who will not allow you to meet the parents or visit the puppies at their facility. This is a clear warning sign. However, even if the buyer does agree to a visit, there are still some things to keep in mind. The larger operations have workarounds for these situations, such as reserving a specific area of the property for visits or even renting a house as a ‘show’ home.
Observe the conditions the dogs are kept in as well as the way they look. Are they well cared for? See if you can gauge if the dogs actually live there. The presence of restricted areas or large numbers of sheds or outhouses could indicate a puppy mill.
A further trick that bad breeders use is to place the puppies with a healthier-looking ‘mother’ for your visit. So be aware of how the female interacts with her ‘pups’ and for obvious signs that she has just given birth such as visible teats.
Check the puppy
Finally, check out the pups themselves. Look for signs of ill health such as a runny nose, discharge around the eyes and mess around their bum. Make sure they are not lethargic, and if they have been separated from their mother, do they look too young for this? If in doubt, seek advice from a veterinarian.
Spotting a puppy mill can be a tricky business, but there are ways to avoid getting burned. As an alternative, you can consider adopting a dog from a local shelter. But be cautious going this route as well, since you may not know the history of a dog in a shelter. While everyone loves puppies, older dogs can be every bit as special and fun to have in your life. They deserve to have love and a forever home too.