Monday, December 5, 2022


What’s the Big Deal about Puppy Mills?

February 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Dog Health and Nutrition

If you are considering purchasing a puppy for your family, you may be drawn to the cute puppies in the pet store window.  They are cute as a button, and usually priced more reasonably than those you might find from a breeder.  So why is it a bad thing to buy from a pet store?


Many, if not most, pet stores are stocked from puppy mills, large-scale breeders who use irresponsible breeding practices with the goal of making the most money possible in the shortest period of time.  Their business plan does not allow for proper veterinary care, clean cages, or selective breeding to weed out genetic problems and undesirable traits.

At a professional breeder’s property, you will see clean, sanitary conditions, temperature-controlled kennel areas, animals that are well-fed and given daily exercise, and a person who truly is passionate about the breed to which they are contributing.

By contrast, here is the life of a typical breeding bitch at a puppy mill:

6 months:  1st heat, impregnated

7-1/2 months:  deliver 8 pups

8-1/2 months:  pups taken from mother

12 months:  2nd heat, impregnated

13-1/2 months:  deliver 6 pups

14-1/2 months:  pups taken from mother

Repeat ad nauseum

With each subsequent breeding cycle, the mother’s body becomes less able to sustain a high quality pregnancy.  The size and number of puppies decreases.  When the dog is no longer able to carry pups, she is killed because she can no longer contribute to the bottom line.

Now, let’s talk about the puppies.  A puppy mill puppy may be born underweight because his or her mother didn’t have proper food during the pregnancy.  The puppies are crammed like sardines into crates with as many other dogs as will fit.  With luck, they can reach a nipple of one of the mother dogs so they can get some nutrition.  At about the age of four weeks, long before they should be, they are weaned from the mother and started on the cheapest dry dog food, which doesn’t have nearly enough nutrients for a growing puppy.

As soon as is possible, the puppy’s crate is loaded into a semi, often without heat or cooling capabilities, and is trucked to a pet store.  Depending on how lucrative the local market is, the puppy may stay in the truck for a couple of hours or a couple of days.  From there, the dog’s life markedly improves, as it is not good for sales if the puppy looks like you would look if you just spent three days in the back of a truck.

Pet store employees bathe the puppies, allow patrons to play with them, and clean their cages regularly.  The dogs are given appropriate water and food for the first time in their lives.  They are sold (hopefully!) to responsible owners who will keep them safe, take them on walks, and have them spayed or neutered.  With any luck, they will have long, wonderful lives.

However, a very high proportion of puppy mill puppies have terrible problems with diseases.  Due to the inbreeding that is popular with puppy mill owners, genetic diseases run rampant.  Due to the crowded conditions, infectious diseases kill many of the puppies.  Lack of veterinary care leads to problems with worms and other parasites.

No matter how cute that dog appears in the pet store window, you can be assured his early life was nothing short of tragic.  Although this may sound like a reason to take the dog home and love him or her, buying a pet store puppy only lines the pockets of puppy mill owners and encourages them to continue doing business the way they have for many years.

Stand up for the rights of these dogs!  Encourage your state legislators to pass laws that can actually be enforced to assure that all puppies are treated humanely.  Report abuses you see when you are looking for a puppy to buy.  Run, don’t walk, away from any breeder who won’t show you his kennels and can’t tell you about the puppy’s ancestry.  And never, never, never buy a puppy from a pet store!

Read more about the problem:

From our doggie den.

From the ASPCA.

From Wikipedia.

From United Against Puppy Mills.

What is a puppy mill? from YouTube.


2 Responses to “What’s the Big Deal about Puppy Mills?”
  1. Glenn Massie says:

    If you are set on buying a puppy please download and read, “How To Buy A Puppy” before you consider parting with your money. It is free at

    Buying a puppy without problems is harder than most people think. Finding a responsible and knowledgeable breeder is very difficult.

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