How to Identify a Puppy From Puppy Mills?

In our top 30 tips of puppy training, we mentioned that there is a preparation step before getting a new furry friend: Are we capable of raising a puppy? And if so, which breed is best suit for us? But, there is another important part which we would like to address this time and probably many of us are also concerning: puppy from the so-called “puppy mills”. Such information about puppy mills has already been shared on the media. But for those who haven’t known and for those who are planning to get a new puppy friend, let’s take a look, shall we?


*Note: The credits go to various sources, especially Petful  for raising excellent concern about puppy mills.

Table of Content:
1. What is Puppy Mills?
2. How to Identify a Puppy from Puppy Mills?
3. Final Thought

1. What is Puppy Mills?

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Puppies from puppy mills (Source: Internet)

Many pet enthusiasts probably have heard of this term by now. In short, puppy mills are “puppy farm” where puppies are bred and sold directly to the customers or to the pet stores. And if you already heard of “puppy mills”, you will know that many people are strongly against these “places”… Well, “strong against” may not be a precise phrase here, it is more like people are protesting against (if not, disgust) puppy mills. Why’s that?

The thing is: these so-called “puppy mills” are created mostly for commercial purposes. Frankly speaking, we don’t know the extent of these “puppy mills” since they are mostly secret. Therefore, we are not sure whether there is “good puppy mills” or not. However, so far people found out that many dogs and puppies from puppy mills have been in grave situation. Since the puppy mills’ main purpose is to gain profit, these puppy mills have been treating breeding dogs and puppies badly. The dogs and puppies are often cramped in cages, they are mostly locked up and have many mental and physical health problem.

As the results, puppies bought from such “mills” are usually in poor condition. Their body and behavior are much different than a normal puppy. And so naturally, raising them is also an unexpectedly tough work (in which “tough” is a really toned-down word to describe). For such reasons, no wonder why many people are now really cautious when buying a new puppy. It’s also essential for us to know about how to identify a puppy from puppy mills. So with that explained, let’s get into the next part.

2. How to Identify a Puppy from Puppy Mills?

2.1. “Where Can We Meet?”

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Why we would meet in the park? (Source: Internet)

We put this term into a bracket because it is the very first thing to notice when you look for a breeder. Normally, when you choose a new puppy, you are supposed to be able (and you must) to check the puppy directly, including their parents at the breeder’s kennel or breeding facility. It is strongly suggested not to buy a puppy from online store or from sources which does not allow you to check where it is bred. The reason is: many online stores are puppy mills in disguised, or at least, they sell puppies from these mills.

Online stores are convenient for such practices since you can’t see the puppy directly. There is no way for you to guarantee that the puppy on pictures they show to you is “exactly” him/her in real life or not. Of course, we don’t mean that all online stores are doing this, but for best safety, you should ask to see the puppy directly, including the place where they were bred. To be honest, certain puppy mills are quite crafty as they create a “fake kennel” where you can see puppy (and maybe their parents) is alive in well. But by insisting on meeting the puppy and its parents directly, you can already reduce the risk of approaching a puppy mill significantly as many puppy mills tend to avoid direct meeting.

Another reason why we strongly encourage you to ask breeders to meet at their kennel is because some may ask to “meet somewhere”. Let’s be real! If they are truly responsible breeder, why would they ask you to “meet somewhere”? When you hear such an offer, it already sounds “fishy”.

By saying these, it also means that you should not trust any sort of advertisement in the newspaper classifieds, fliers, or on the Internet, especially advertisements coming from these sources and directing to the same organization or person.


2.2. When Meeting Directly

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Something fishy here…. (Source: Internet)

When you get to see the pup directly, this doesn’t mean we can be carefree. As we mentioned, certain mills can create a fake area, therefore, paying attention is necessary. There are several cues you can notice about the area:

  • Bad smell: If you sense strongly foul smell, it already gives you a bad sign about the area. On the other hand, if you sense smell of chemical like bleach, high chance they used those chemical to hide the foul smell.
  • Poor containing area: The main idea is that a healthy puppy should live in a healthy condition. If the containing area is too small for the puppies, or too dirty (including urine and stuffs), it shows a pretty clear sign of how exactly puppies are treated.
  • No food or water: Puppies are supposed to be well-fed. If there is no food or water, or especially dirty water, stay alert.
  • Weather protection: This is extremely important, especially for puppies. The puppies are supposed to be protected from extreme heat or cold condition.
  • Breeding dogs are not there or kept isolated: This one is quite a dangerous sign. Normally there should be no problem for customers to see puppy’s parents. If they are not there or being isolated, high chance they are kept purely for breeding – typical sign of puppy mills. Also, if there is only one female breeding dog, especially when there are many puppies, it will be pretty alarming since that means she is abused to breed every single heat occasion.

2.3. “Who’s that breeder?”

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Seeking a reputable breeder is always necessary. (Source: Internet)

So, what about the breeder? When a breeder agrees to meet us, there is no guarantee that he is trustworthy neither. Let’s have a look at several cues:

  • The breeder always has puppies available for sale: Now, responsible breeders will always take great care of their breeding dogs. And naturally, they don’t have many puppies to offer and they won’t brag about their puppies’ availability. Therefore, those who always have puppies for sale are extremely suspicious since such huge amount of puppies can only be available via puppy mills.
  • Breeders who offer multiple “new” or “rare” breeds: These forms of offer are normally for advertisement. They said like that in order to encourage you to buy puppies. But in reality, such “new” or “rare” breeds show the sign of breed experiment – which is forbidden and totally a bad sign.
  • The breeders who refuse to meet at their kennel or breeding facility: Again, just like we mention in the first section, do not buy puppy from these sorts of shop or breeder. Meeting at places other than those two is also unacceptable.
  • The breeder doesn’t allow or want you to meet breeding dogs: Unless the dogs are mistreated or abused, there is no reason why you can’t meet them.
  • Breeders who only ask you about money and pickup agreement: These breeders are people who only want to grab quick cash. Professional breeders always concern about your raising condition or capability, even when you did receive the pup. They even require you to return the puppy if you are no longer capable of raising him.
  • Breeders who saying neutering and spaying is no needed: This is pretty self-explanatory.
  • The breeder doesn’t share you about his veterinarian’s info: Obviously fishy isn’t it? But take notice though, if the breeder does give you his vet’s info, it doesn’t mean you should interrogate the vet though. With the name and address, you can check out whether the vet’s location is truly there or not and whether he in practice.

2.4. Puppy’s Condition

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Not all pups are healthy like this. (Source: Internet)

Although puppy mills can try to fake the puppy’s condition to certain degree, the general issue of puppies from these mills is that they have rather… bizarre health conditions. These conditions can be varied but we will try to list some of them here:

  • The pup is too young: A puppy needs to stay with his parents for at least 8 weeks before he can leave. If you encounter a too-young puppy, you should address the breeder immediately.
  • Puppy has hygiene problem or bizarre physical notions: Including bad smell, poor coat, missing teeth, overgrown nails, eye or nose discharge, sores or injuries, missing fur or excessive scratching.
  • Puppy (or his parents) doesn’t get vaccinated: Again, it is necessary to ask about the pup and his parents’ vaccination. If not, high chance that there is something “fishy” here. For better confirmation, you should also ask for the name and address of the veterinarian as we mentioned above.
  • The puppy is skinny or overweight: Skinny is clearly the sign of malnutrition or sickness, while overweight is because he is overfed or didn’t get to exercise. Both conditions pretty much tell us that there is something wrong here.
  • Pup always sleep or being lethargic: Now this is not okay sign. Being in such states means his has poor health, OR, he got medicated so that he looks “normal” (but this is only a cover of more serious problems).
  • The puppy has poor mental health: Poor mental health includes being aggressive, extreme shyness, afraid, or fear. Such issues are not supposed to happen to healthy pup.
  • Puppy comes from multiple breeds: A professional breeder only raises one breed or two breeds at best. If the pup comes from many breeds then it is bad news.

And remember, these issues can also happen to other puppies at that breeder’s place (like kennel or breeding facility). If you notice similar problems from those puppies, be alert!

2.5. “Can that registration be trusted?”

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AKC’s dog registration application (Source: Internet)

Registration is normally a trick for puppy mills to disguise themselves as “legit breeders”. Therefore, registration cannot always be trusted. When a pet is registered, the government doesn’t do the checking.  As the results, these papers needed to be confirmed by ourselves.

When a breeder shows his registration from an organization, the best way is to look for it online or contact directly. If the registration is suspended, OR, doesn’t exist, stay alert! For higher safety, you can ask for humane society for help to check out the organization’s credibility.

Other notion is about the breed registration. A professional breeder only raises one breed and he shares deep love and knowledge about the breed. If the breeder can’t explain the breed’s standard or doesn’t register breed’s parents, bad sign is coming. In addition, the pro breeder always takes great care for his puppies and their parents. Therefore, he is supposed to have screenings about the pup’s health, OR, health documents about its parents’ health.


2.6. Paying Money – A Potential Pit Trap

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This is not the end! (Source: Internet)

Unfortunately for us, even when we decide to agree on the deal with a seller or breeder, we still need to be cautious. There are still certain cues which alarm us of potential puppy-mill seller:

  • The sellers don’t have any permit from local authority or state allowing them to sell puppies.
  • Sellers have history of crimes relating to animals.
  • The sellers are having pending complaints from humane societies, police department, or business bureaus, especially when they get nervous when being asked about it.
  • Sellers say that there will be no refunds.
  • The seller only wants the payment in cash or money orders.

Again, these cues do not necessarily mean the seller/breeder selling puppies from puppy mills. But still, it is advised to stay alert when the seller shows such behaviors.

3. Final Thought

In general, customers should avoid buying puppies from puppy mills since it will bring great disturbance within the family. Puppies from puppy mills often have negative behavior and mental health; therefore, it is not a good idea to raise a puppy from puppy mills unless we are totally aware and ready. In addition, buying puppies from puppy mills will highly become support to those puppy mills which practicing “shady business” to the dogs and puppies. Therefore, it is much recommended to avoid such puppy mills.

And that’s it folk! What do you think about the puppy mills? Feel free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tune for more news in the future!

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