What’s the Difference Between a Puppy Mill, a Backyard Breeder, a Hobby Breeder, and a Reputable Breeder?

What’s the Difference Between a Puppy Mill, a Backyard Breeder, a Hobby Breeder, and a Reputable Breeder?


Puppy Mills

Let’s start with the easiest to define – a puppy mill. Puppy mills are created with one thing in mind which is the almighty dollar. An article we found by the ASPCA regarding puppy mills claims that breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects. People running puppy mills buy dogs for the sole purpose of reproduction, taking little to no interest in the quality of the dogs they are breeding. Most pet stores buy their dogs from a broker who acquired the puppies from a puppy mill. This is why many people do not support pet stores who sell pure-bred dogs and why many pet stores have stopped carrying dogs with papers. Big or small, FDA approved or not, puppy mills should be avoided. Since the main goal is profit, the breeder will give no real consideration to the well-being of the dogs and won’t care if the dogs are carrying faults within the breed standard.

It is fairly easy to avoid purchasing a dog from a puppy mill. If you can’t see the facilities, do NOT buy it! Many people buy puppies from a pet store or from a flea market because they felt sorry for the puppy and wanted to give it a good home. This is a noble, but terrible idea, because the money spent supports the person who sold the dog. Did you know that no states have laws against a breeding kennel legally keeping dozens of dogs in cages for their entire lives, if food, water, and shelter are provided? That is a direct quote from DoSomething.org. The only way to stop puppy mills is to stop buying from them.

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Back Yard Breeders and Hobby Breeders

It is extremely complicated to try and define back yard and hobby breeders, since by their nature, they are all probably a little different in their practices and motivations. But remember, all breeders have to start somewhere! Many a breeder got their start because they love their pet and want to keep the lineage alive. They may be smitten by the dog’s overbite, or the extra toe on their dog, though, which are both probably a breed fault and shouldn’t be intentionally reproduced! Back yard and hobby breeders probably don’t know enough about the breed, improving the overall health and welfare of the dogs they are reproducing, or have the dedication to veterinary care and testing that is needed in order to produce consistently high-quality dogs. But back yard breeders are certainly not criminals or perpetuating an unethical business.

Confused yet?

Basically, a back yard breeder is anyone who is probably driven by an emotional attachment to their animals or for profiting on the offspring, or both, rather than bettering the breed. At VeterinaryPartner.com, they state that these puppies are probably the cheapest registered pups to purchase, especially the ones the breeder can’t sell at the most profitable *cute age. Responsible breeders often have puppies sold before they are born. They have acquired reputable credentials on the appropriateness of the parent dogs before breeding, in the form of testing for genetic problems common in their breeds as well as titles or other verification that the dogs are good examples of their breed. As a result, their puppies are in demand. The unprepared, uninformed person who decides to give breeding a try is surprised to find there’s no demand for carelessly bred pups, especially at high prices. While we do agree with the notion that most back yard breeders will find quickly that breeding dogs is a lot harder and more expensive than they originally anticipated, we also know that breeders all have to get their start somewhere. If you are looking for a good family pet and your neighbor is raising yorkshire terriers that are a little wirey and too long legged, you aren’t really hurting anyone or anything by purchasing one of those puppies. And it’s certainly a better choice than buying a dog from a pet store or flea market, where chances are high you are supporting a puppy mill!

On the other hand, buyers beware! There’s probably no health guarantee and did the back yard breeder even bother to test for genetic defects to ensure that the cute cuddly puppy grows up to be a dog? How long is the back yard breeder even going to stay in business? Will there be any recourse should your dog have issues when he’s 5 years old?

Reputable Breeder

Reputable breeders are those who have developed a breeding philosophy and are trying to better the quality of the dogs they are reproducing. Reputable breeders have honesty and integrity. When you visit, you should feel comfortable that they aren’t trying to hide or mask anything. Reputable breeders don’t all fit one particular mold either since some are show breeders who seek to produce the animal that a show judge deems worthy of a ribbon, and others, like Von Ward Kennels, have developed their own breeding philosophy that they feel is best for the breed. Either way, a reputable breeder has years of experience, has proven over time that they are dedicated to their dogs, and is willing to endure the hardships and continue on. Reputable breeders put the dogs well-being above profit. They grow over time and adjust their philosophy as they learn more. Reputable breeders have their dogs tested for hereditary issues and avoid breeding dogs that might pass on undesirable traits to their offspring. A reputable breeder will invite you to inspect the facilities and see the condition of their property. They’ll be able to answer most of your questions and will seek to find answers to questions they can’t answer. They will make sure that the buyers are providing the right home for the animal and that they can afford and understand the proper way to feed and care for the dog. It is easy to distinguish a reputable breeder from a back yard breeder or puppy mill, but it might be difficult to find one. In the end, by supporting reputable breeders, you are supporting the effort to better the breed.

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