How to Identify if a Puppy is from a Puppy Mill

My new puppy, Malala Epstein! (Photo by Ellen Epstein)

10 Signs That a Puppy Is From a Puppy Mill

By Ellen Epstein

After deciding what breed my new addition would be, I was then tasked with finding a reputable breeder who had the best interests of the puppies and parents in mind. That way I knew I would get a healthy dog with a great personality, like my old girl Hannah is.

Health and personality are so important to a dog owner, and I have found that spending a little extra money on a puppy can save you money in vet bills over the lifetime of the pet. I am proud to introduce Malala, my 10-week-old Sheepadoodle puppy to the Bow Wow Meow family!

Do your homework to find the best dog for you. The following are the signs to be aware of when looking for a puppy, according to Kristina Lotzon in the iHeartDogs newsletter:

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. 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).

#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.

#3 – Let’s Meet

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 should not see where your puppy was born.

#4 – Several Breeds

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

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 don’t like to spend money, as 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

Dr. Kathryn Primm DVM, owner and chief veterinarian of Applebrook Animal Hospital, says to 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 larger than 7 pounds. She was 42 pounds.

#8 – Cleanliness

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

#9 – Contract

Your breeder should care enough about what happens to the puppy that she has a contract protecting both you and her. 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

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.

Ellen Epstein is Top Dog @ Bow Wow Meow Pet Care [email protected] • 703-850-5559

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  1. A Sheepadoodle!?
    That’s a designer breed and ONLY comes from Backyard Greeders and/or Puppy Mills!!
    A responsible breeder will not alter the genetic makeup of a dog…period!!!

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