What is a Puppy Mill -  Here's How to Spot it

What is a Puppy Mill - Here's How to Spot it

Author WDF Staff


The demand for puppies has never been higher, and many of us are looking into the option of becoming a dog owner. This might seem like good news, but whenever there is a lot of demand for a specific “product,” the market starts to offer sub-par products to satisfy the demand. In understandable terms, puppy mills take advantage of the situation and produce many puppies they can quickly sell. If you are new to the canine kingdom, you might think this isn’t a big deal. However, puppy mills are a growing menace that needs to be controlled. Here is what you should know about puppy mills.

What is a puppy mill?

Puppy mills can be defined as “large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs.” In other words, puppy mills are solely focused on producing the largest possible number of puppies. They rarely keep breeding dogs in good conditions and absolutely don’t care about their wellbeing or health.

In puppy mills, female dogs are bred too often, and puppies are taken away from their mothers far too soon. These places are often connected with severe animal cruelty. When females cannot produce anymore, they are rarely adopted or given to places that can offer them a lovely home and family. Dogs that “outgrow” their purpose are often killed.

You should never buy a puppy from a puppy mill. That way, you will not give them money and directly finance their operation. One of the main goals of ASPCA is to stop this cruel practice and put an end to puppy mills across the US. There are currently around 10.000 puppy mills in the US by some estimations, and they are responsible for more than 2 million puppies each year.

puppy mill dogs

Why should you avoid getting a puppy mill puppy?

Getting a dog is not a quick or easy task. It is a process that takes time and preparation. Puppy mills often sell their puppies to pet shops or other places that play the role of brokers. Sometimes, puppy mills can sell directly to the public, and you should be very careful not to get a puppy that comes from a puppy mill. Here are the main reasons you should avoid buying a puppy from a puppy mill;

Animal cruelty

The first reason is quite apparent. Puppies and dogs are kept in inhumane conditions, and puppy mills don’t take good care of their dogs. Female dogs rarely have enough time to recuperate between litters, and dogs that cannot be bred are killed. That is reason enough, in our opinion, to avoid buying or even getting in contact with people connected to puppy mills.

No health checks

Another reason puppy mills are dangerous is the lack of health checks. People breeding dogs in a puppy mill rarely bother to check if breeding dogs are healthy. Parents can pass on many genetic diseases to their offspring, and if there are no tests, you might end up with an unhealthy puppy. Genetic diseases can include hip dysplasia, epilepsy, kidney issues, blood and endocrine disorders that will significantly impact a puppy’s life.

Because breeding dogs and puppies are kept in horrible conditions, they are often severely sick when they come to pet stores or families that bought them. Puppy mill puppies often have dangerous health issues, and many of them don’t survive their first month away from their mothers. The most common problems found in puppy mill puppies are parvovirus, kennel cough, respiratory issues, parasites, canine distemper, ear infections, malnourishment, urinary disorders, skin infections, and bladder issues. These health issues are potentially deadly, and diseases like parvovirus and distemper have a high mortality rate if they are not treated on time.

How to spot a puppy mill dog?

The best way to join the fight against inhumane dog treatment and puppy mills is to deny them your money. Do not buy dogs from pet stores, and be aware of red flags when looking at ads.

The first thing we ask breeders at World Dog Finder is proof they are registered with their national kennel club or cynology association. Puppy mills are not regulated, and they will not be registered anywhere. You should do the same thing when you are looking for a puppy. Ask the person you are in contact with for proof. Here are some of the things you should look out for;

Different breeds and designer dogs

Puppy mills rarely focus on breeding one breed. They want to maximize their profit and offer different dog breeds to many buyers. If you see a seller selling different dog breeds and designer dog breeds (Labradoodle, Cockapoo, Goldendoodle), it is probably a puppy mill.

Puppies sold too early

If you hear the puppies are being sold while they are too young, less than 8 weeks old, it is probably a puppy mill. Responsible dog breeders that take proper care of their dogs will never take away puppies too soon from their mothers. Puppies need to develop and spend at least 8-10 weeks with their mom.

Refuse to show conditions

Puppy mills will never allow anyone to see the place where dogs are kept. They are aware that all dog owners are animal lovers, and they would immediately call the authorities on them. If a breeder refuses to show you the place where puppies are kept, that is most likely because puppies and dogs are kept in horrible conditions.

Lack of interest

Responsible dog breeders will always screen their potential customers. If you contact someone who is only interested in your money, it is most likely a puppy mill. Responsible breeders will ask you different questions about your lifestyle, conditions, and talk to you about the breed you are interested in. The lack of that interest is a huge red flag.

Pet store puppies

Pet stores often sell puppies with little to no background checks. Many puppy mills use pet stores as fronts to sell their puppies. Even if they give you the “certification” that the puppies come from a humane source, you should be suspicious. Never buy a puppy from a pet store because no serious dog breeder would ever give their puppies to a pet store.


Dog breeders care about their dogs. They are interested in their development and might even want to use them to further develop the breeding line. They will make a commitment to you and the puppy, and many breeders will take their dogs back in case something bad happens, and you have to give your dog up.

Avoiding puppy mills

Puppy mills are becoming very creative, and they will use all possible sources to sell the dogs they are producing. In this modern world, most of us are used to getting what we want immediately. Getting a new dog is not something that should be done that way. Take your time and make sure you get a healthy puppy with the best possible start in life.

At World Dog Finder, we screen breeders and their kennels. They have to present proof of registration, and we will not allow puppy mills to sell their puppies. However, puppy mills may submit counterfeited documents and fool us. We would advise you to be cautious, and if you notice anything suspicious, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to puppy mills and pride ourselves on working with registered and responsible dog breeders only.

World Dog Finder team

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