A Guide On How To Tell If Your Dog Is From A Puppy Mill?

For decades, many animal rights organizations are fighting to stop puppy mills. These hideous and irresponsible breeding grounds not only produce unhealthy puppies but also keep them in inhumane environments. Unfortunately, many aspiring dog owners are still being victimized by these illegal breeders. With that, it’s important that you know how to tell if your dog is from a puppy mill and what you can do about it.

While it’s true that all dogs deserve a forever home, buying from puppy mills just makes the situation worse. Buying a dog from puppy mills fuel its operations, which means more and more dogs will be put in the same cruel situation.

Here at Bulldog Papa, we believe that stopping puppy mills start by having informed owners. So whether you’re getting a Bulldog or not, this post is a must-read.

The problem with puppy mill dogs

Puppy mills have a bad reputation because of their haphazard breeding process and insufferable manner of treating dogs.

Unlike responsible and legitimate breeders, puppy mills don’t adhere to any standards or kennel club rules. The main goal is to produce and sell as many puppies as possible for the sake of profits.

Moreover, puppy mills produce anywhere from purebred dogs to very cheap designer dogs. They are often connected to pet stores that sell puppies for a fraction of the price.

If you’re wondering why puppy mills are evil, here are some of the reasons why:

how to tell if your dog is from a puppy mill
  • They force dogs to reproduce many times per year. In puppy mill settings, mother dogs are forced to give birth to litters many times a year. Puppy mill breeders keep breeding their dogs as many times as they could per year. This clearly puts the canine’s life and its litters at risk.
  • They treat dogs as cash crops. Puppy mills don’t care about their dogs’ welfare. For them, these pets are just cash crops that they produce for a living.
  • Puppy mill dogs are often malnourished. Puppy mills often cut back on expenses as much as possible. This means that the dogs are malnourished or fed an inadequate diet.
  • Puppy mill dogs receive no veterinary attention. One of the evils of puppy mills is they deprive dogs of veterinary care. This is because vet care costs a fee, which legitimate breeders won’t mind paying.
  • They separate the mother and its litters too early. Since the goal of puppy mills is to earn money, these breeders will often snatch the pups away from their mothers too early. This can lead to behavioral and health problems later in the dog’s life.

We can go on and on with all the reasons why puppy mills should never be your choice of breeder. Sure, you’re going to save money with your affordable dog. But once health problems arise, you’re going to pay more in vet fees. Aside from that, your dog will suffer from a lot of pain and discomfort.

How to tell if your dog is from a puppy mill

Puppy mill dogs are common in rescue shelters. If you recently adopted or bought a dog from a shady breeder, it’s important that you check whether it came from a puppy mill or not.

Below are some of the signs that you’re dealing with a puppy mill or a puppy mill dog:

1. The breeder won’t talk about the pup’s parents.

how to tell if your dog is from a puppy mill

One of the tell-tale signs that you’re dealing with a puppy mill is when the breeder declines to show you the puppy’s parents. They will make excuses like the mother dog is in the vet or they aren’t available for viewing.

Puppy mill breeders do this to hide the cruel conditions to which they keep the mother dogs. Also, most of the sires and dams are over-bred and mired in health problems.

So if the breeder refuses to show you the puppy’s parents multiple times, don’t proceed with the purchase.

2. The breeder declines a personal visit.

Another practice of puppy mills is declining a home visit from a potential buyer. They will often just meet you in a parking lot or a designated area to bring the puppy.

This is because the breeding situation in their home is unhealthy, filthy, and inhumane. Letting a buyer see this will surely impact their business and they will likely get reported to the authorities.

Remember that legitimate breeders will be open for you to visit their place. Some would even require potential buyers to personally pick up the puppy from their breeding area. This is to prove that the buyer is serious and to guarantee that they are practicing humane breeding standards.

3. The breeder focuses on multiple breeds.

Most puppy mills churn multiple dog breeds at a time to make more money. In most cases, they will offer anything from large breeds to designer dogs at the same time.

This is a big red flag because the lack of focus on a single breed means that the breeder isn’t adhering to humane standards.

Take note that puppies aren’t livestock. This is why a legitimate breeder will only focus on one or two related breeds. Also, they will seek training and certification from various organizations like the American Kennel Club for the breed they are producing.

4. There’s no paperwork involved.

how to tell if your dog is from a puppy mill

The lack of paperwork is the hallmark tactic of puppy mills. They simply hand over the puppy, receive the payment, and the transaction is done. They don’t want any paper trail that will allow authorities to trace their whereabouts.

Aside from that, puppy mills can’t produce paperwork because they don’t get the puppies checked at the veterinarian. Also, they don’t register the pups to any kennel club since it won’t pass the standards.

Paperwork is proof that the puppy is legally produced, properly examined, and suitable for rehoming.

5. The puppy’s cost is very cheap.

Is the breeder offering you a Bulldog puppy for as low as $300? If so, you’re definitely dealing with a puppy mill.

Purebred Bulldog puppies from legitimate breeders cost at least $1,500 and could go up to $4,000. This is because the breeder observed strict veterinary and breeding standards in producing the puppy.

So if a self-proclaimed breeder sells puppies at bargained prices, you shouldn’t proceed with the transaction. This is because the puppies are likely covered in health problems and produced in cruel conditions.

Nevertheless, price isn’t an absolute determinant of a puppy mill dog. In fact, some shady breeders will price their puppies similar to professional breeders to appear legitimate. With this, it’s important to consider the other points listed here.

6. The puppy is being sold before 8 weeks old.

Puppies should only be placed to their new owner once it’s at least 8 weeks old. This will give the pup enough time to bond with its litter and to nurse from its mother.

Taking the puppy away from its mother too early will lead to health problems. Also, the pup will become aggressive and develop other behavioral issues.

Remember that legitimate breeders will wait for puppies to turn 8 to 12 weeks old before giving them to buyers. Anything earlier than that should be a subject of suspicion. 

7. The puppy doesn’t have veterinary history.

A puppy with no veterinary record is guaranteed to have come from an irresponsible breeder. So if the person selling the pup can’t show proof of vaccination, genetic testing, and similar procedures, he’s likely working for a puppy mill.

Take note that legitimate breeders will subject each pup to a comprehensive set of examinations. This includes but is not limited to eye certification, dysplasia test, cardiac evaluation, genetic test, thyroid exam, luxation test, and so on.

Aside from that, it’s important that you know the name of the attending veterinarian. This way, you can check whether the vet is legitimate and if the breeder isn’t lying about the test results.

8. The puppy has socialization issues.

Dogs from puppy mills are often aggressive, extremely shy, and have poor socialization. This is because they are kept inside a cage for the longest time.

Legitimate breeders raise dogs in a home setting. This way, the puppies will receive socialization and will be desensitized to various domestic stimuli. However, in puppy mills, this never happens.

9. The dog has a long list of health problems.

One way to determine whether you have a puppy mill dog is to avail of an in-depth veterinary examination. This way, the vet can unravel any underlying illnesses that could point to irresponsible breeding.

If the puppy looks unwell, you shouldn’t proceed with buying it. If you do so, you’ll get a surprise of your life at the vet.

10. The dog is exceptionally hard to train.

To be fair, each dog has varying difficulties when it comes to training. Some respond to training easily while others take time to learn, which is totally normal.

However, if your dog is still not learning potty training for months despite all your efforts, you may want to check where you got the pooch. You should also be worried if your dog is growing more and more aggressive despite being raised in a nurturing household.

11. The breeder doesn’t have any kennel club affiliation.

A breeder with no kennel club affiliation or certification is likely operating a puppy mill-style business. This could mean that the breeder has no professional knowledge about dog breeding and will likely produce unhealthy puppies.

Overall, if the breeder is unknown and has no affiliations to show, you should look elsewhere for a puppy.

12. The breeder doesn’t inquire about your personal arrangements.

Lastly, if the breeder isn’t inquiring about your living setup or arrangements, they are probably just after the profits.

Legitimate breeders often conduct a thorough background check to ensure that their puppies will be placed in good hands. Some would even demand a home visit to ensure that the potential owner is suitable and ready to raise a dog.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many dogs are killed in puppy mills?

A: According to reports, about 2 million dogs perish in puppy mills every year. This is due to the poor living conditions as well as negligent breeding. Also, once the dog can no longer produce puppies, the breeders will put them down. The worst part is that these dogs will be put down in a cruel way without any veterinary intervention.

Q: Are puppy mill dogs more aggressive?

A: Based on studies, dogs that came from puppy mills are more likely to become aggressive. They will also be a challenge to train, regardless of breed. This is also the main reason why many puppy mill dogs are being surrendered to shelters every year.

Q: Why do puppy mill dogs eat their poop?

A: In puppy mills, food sources are limited, so the dogs will often resort to eating their own feces. Also, puppy mill dogs are poorly trained and are often forced to sleep, eat, and defecate in the same spot. This creates a slew of behavioral problems, including the ingestion of their wastes.

Q: What are Amish puppy mills?

A: The Amish people also have a bad rap due to their puppy mills. In their setup, dogs are treated like livestock and sold at slashed prices. The breeding process continues until the dog can no longer produce, by which time it will be killed.

Q: What state has the most puppy mills?

A: The state of Missouri is considered to have the most puppy mills in the United States. These puppy mills are often concentrated in the Midwest area, which includes states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, efforts are not underway to hunt down and close these puppy mills.

Final words

Puppy mills should never be an option if you want to have a dog. While their puppies cost less, you’ll often pay the price once health problems and behavioral issues start to surface.

If you suspect that your dog came from a puppy mill, you should consult the vet immediately. This is to have your pet checked and treated for any health problems it might have.

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