What are Puppy Mills?

How much is that Puppy in the window? Probably a lot more than it is worth. Most pups in stores come from cruel beginnings and buyers support it!

A Puppy Mill is ANY place that breeds mass numbers of puppies for the main purpose of making a profit. They do not breed for genetic superiority, not for intelligence, not for longevity, not for confirmation… only profit. They breed to produce quantity, not quality. They do not worry about the physical or mental health of the parent, as long as they can produce pups.  They breed cheaply to supply pet stores with pups, allowing the store to make a profit.   They do not care who buys the pups.

Some puppy mills are filthy over crowded places, where as others may be neater, and the dogs treated better, the main thing that separates them from Reputable breeders is that the Puppy Mill owner does not take the dogs to shows to prove their worth as a breeding animal nor do they do many veterinary checks for genetic problems such as hips and eyes. 

File:Puppy mill 01.JPG


In the above picture you will not the long nails on the front dog, you will also note this is a line of many cages, not just one cage.  In most puppy mills the adult dogs will spend their entire life in a cage like this. 

Often Puppy Mills cater to “cuteness”, small sells, so it is not uncommon for them to stunt dogs with poor nutrition. The parents are kept in small cages, sometimes stacked on top of one another. No additional expense is occurred. They are fed minimal amounts of cheap food. Vet attention is only given as a last resort, or sometimes not at all. It is all about spending as little as possible so they can make the most profit.

In most cases, the females are bred over and over, their bodies given no time to rest or recover. They are killed or abandoned when they are no longer useful. The majority of puppy mill adults are not adoptable, they are not socialized, and may have never even walked on grass. They are mentally unstable because of the substandard conditions of their life, and are generally unsafe as pets. They are not house broken.

The pups suffer from poor nutrition, often have worms, and may have other mental problems as a result of being raised with very little human contact, or in filthy conditions. Puppy mill pups have a higher rate of coprophagia (eating their own feces).  Most puppy mills sell to pet stores rather than to the public directly. 

Often Puppy Mills have more than one breed of dog, and more than one breeding animal of each breed. Even the cleanest puppy mill is a problem because they are not breeding for anything other than profit.

Image Source

Back Yard Breeders

Not much better than the Puppy Mill breeder, it is sometimes hard to tell them apart. In many cases the only difference is the people actually include the dog as a pet. They may spend a little more money on dog care and well being. Backyard Breeders are different from Reputable Breeders because they do not show the parents to prove their worth as breeding animals.

Pet Stores

Pet stores will deny buying from Puppy Mills, but who else would sell to a store? A reputable breeder would not sell to a store and would never hide anonymously behind a store front, nor would they need to. Who needs to hide? Pet stores buy pups as cheap as they can, and sell for as much as they can. They are stores, they are in the business of making profit.

They play on the fact many buyers are taken in by a cute pup and buy on a whim, or many people feel sorry for pups and think they are rescuing them. What people need to know, is that they are NOT rescuing one dog.. they are condemning others to live in horrid conditions because they have supported this industry by making a purchase. When you buy a puppy that had a horrible start in life, you may have a dog with loads of health problems later in life, including mental health issues.

A few stores are recognizing this and are housing dogs from local shelters and adopting them out on behalf of the shelter, but it is hard for a person to know unless they ask and check into it further. The much lower cost is usually an indication of a shelter animal for adoption.

How can you stop Puppy Mills?

Puppy Mills are illegal in many areas, the problem is that the stores simply buy from other areas, or from brokers who buy from the mills, and keep the location of the mill secret. Pet stores turn a blind eye to where the pup comes from. As long as it is priced right.
Thus the ONLY want to stop Puppy Mills, is to stop buying pups from pet stores. If the stores can no longer make a profit by selling pups they will discontinue to sell them. Educate others not to buy from stores.

Other animals?

YES!!! Other animals come from “mills” too. Not just pups. Purebred cats, birds, rodents, etc. All come from mills when sold at pet stores. It is harder for the public to find breeders for some animals such as reptiles or birds so they support the store.

Where to buy from?

In addition to buying from Reputable breeders (which can be found in Magazines, or at shows, or from word of mouth) a person can find a pup at their local animal shelter, SPCA, or breed rescue. If you go to a home to look at pups and the facilities or dogs are in bad condition, do not feel sorry for the pups. Do not reward the seller. Instead call the local authorities for pet care and report the substandard conditions. You are better off to buy directly from a good back yard breeder than from a store, just remember that if the parents have no show record, or genetic tests done by a vet, your new pup may not be worth the asking price.


  • NEVER pay a cent for a pup that has not been vet checked or vaccinated.
  • A mixed breed dog is ONLY worth the cost of the vaccinations and vet check done prior to the sale.
  • A purebred dog is ONLY worth more if the parents have been to shows to prove their quality.


Further Reading

The Problem with Pet Stores

How to Start a Pet Rescue

So you want to be a Dog Breeder?

What Happens to the Puppies that Pet Stores do not Sell?

If you have opinions, ideas, or knowledge, and would like to get Paid for sharing them by writing for sites like this, Click Here.

Liked it


User Comments
  1. Denice

    On February 20, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    excellent article – thanks for caring

  2. Carol

    On August 18, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    An excellent article and an important read for anyone who loves animals! Most people do not want to know the truth!

  3. eunice tan

    On August 22, 2008 at 1:04 am

    Good article. Thanks to you from all animal’s lovers

  4. eddiego65

    On August 30, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for raising awareness to such an important issue.

  5. Nichole

    On September 10, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Thats good. except this part “A purebred dog is ONLY worth more if the parents have been to shows to prove their quality.”
    it can be a really good dog and have great parents. but just becuse there parents never went to a show doesnt mean its not good. LOL

  6. Manda

    On November 7, 2008 at 5:21 am

    “A Puppy Mill is ANY place that breeds puppies for the main purpose of making a profit.”

    Umm, excuse me? My parents raise dogs for a living because neither of them can hold an actual job for various reasons. Yes, they do it to make a profit but our kennel is inspected several times a year by both our local vet and the government inspector and these are suprise visits. We don’t know they are coming until they call from our driveway so there is no way to prepare. Everything MUST be kept up to par.

    I can tell you right off the top of my head how many dogs we have, what their names are, who their friends are (as in who they get along with so they have a sleeping companion and someone to play with), how old they are and many other things.

    All of our dogs respond to their names, they aresn’t scared, their pens are cleaned daily and every last one of them have a kennel run that is larger than my bedroom. We play with every single dog every day. It is time consumming but its worth it because our babies are happy.

    Not all breeders that have multiple dogs are raising them in puppy mills. Learn how to check your facts before you assume somthing.

  7. Brenda Nelson

    On November 8, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    to Manda

    your parents place could be considered as a Puppy Mill or Back Yard Breeder – not all are filty or overrun, but all breed for the main interest of profit – which you even said your folks did. This does not mean they didnt love the dogs, nor does it mean they didnt have names. but if your parents didnt take the parents to shows to prove their worth as breeding animals, they are not reputable breeders. No assumptions made. That is a fact.

  8. BradONeill

    On November 24, 2009 at 1:06 am

    I think you are a little harsh on the people who are in this for profit. There are lots of Dog Lovers that choose to breed them for a living or more often to supplement their living. I know you are a communist at heart and I love you but it is ok to make money doing what you love.

  9. Brenda Nelson

    On November 24, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Brad, yes I am a commie at heart lol, but if you ever saw a puppy mill I think you would be horrified, these are not the same people that just breed one or two dogs in their yard, they have hundreds in tiny cages, never allowed out. That is NOT okay.

  10. catlord

    On November 24, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    thanks for caring, sharing

  11. keyboardologist

    On November 27, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    You have some very good points. There are however, exceptions to every rule. We have a dog that is a mixed breed (Dad was Cocker Spaniel, and Mom Chihuahua), and we were able to see the parents. The people we bought him from only have about six or seven dogs at a time, and they all have their appropriate shots. I have heard some horror stories about ferrets as well as puppies.

  12. Der Kommissar

    On November 27, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Very informative piece. It’s sad that these places exist and also sad that getting rid of them, while will be wonderful in the long run, will lead to dogs abandoned, ddestroyed and mistreated as the market starts to dry up. I’m not syaing that to disagree in anyw ay with what you said, just that it is a horrible situation that will get much worse before it gets better. Kudos on helping to shine a spotlight on puppy mills

  13. MartineP

    On March 5, 2010 at 6:23 am

    All pet stored buy from puppy mills or like in Belgium: are puppy mills due to legal regulations. To get a confirmed pedigree the breeder has to have certain qualifications and is not allowed to breed more than two breeds of dogs here in Belgium. But when you have breeders license, pedigrees are not a must. So pet store pups come without a pedigree which makes them less worth. A pedigree is not a must for people who might not have any plans to participate their dogs in shows and stuff like that, but in that case it should not be sold as a pure breed dog, despite it might be.

  14. MartineP

    On March 5, 2010 at 6:24 am

    By the way: the pet store I worked did kill dogs that did not get sold or that had a clear handicap and I also know one that puts them in shelters.

  15. Carolyn Cordon

    On May 30, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I am a registered dog breeder in Australia. Puppy mills move dogs from state to state, providing stock for the pet store market. When I see puppies in a pet store I am sad because I know that those pups were born to fill a customer demand, not because someone wanted to breed the best whatever breed they could.
    I breed puppies with a desire to have puppies that are better than their parents, good looking, and mentally & physically fit.

  16. helmkhat

    On August 30, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    The best article,………EVER!

  17. Jess

    On March 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    We need more people to take action and spread the word like you!!!! Thanks from the poor pups and me!!

  18. Gabby

    On March 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

    This is a great article! it breaks my heart to just picture these inhumane acts. I used this topic for my senior exit in high school and it turned out great.

Post Comment
comments powered by Disqus