I hear myself SO often telling people to do their homework, find an ethical breeder and don’t support puppy farms. Now more than ever after the huge demand for puppies during the COVID-19 lockdown, the waitlists for reputable breeders are looooong! But WHY is it so important to be patient, find a reputable breeder and not support puppy farms?
Puppy Farms are a terrible place that work off supply and demand. So, buying a puppy from a puppy farm is NOT rescuing a puppy, it is actually creating more demand which is going to increase the supply of puppies in these horrible places. Puppy farmers generally breed only for money and do not have the best interest of the breed at heart.
It has been found that prenatal care in the mother can have an impact on the pups. So, if a mother is stressed whilst pregnant, this can have an impact on the pup’s future behaviour and temperament.
The first eight weeks of a puppies life (the time they are at the breeder) is an important period for their critical development. Not being raised, treated or socialised correctly can have a significant impact on the future behaviour and temperament of your new puppy.
A reputable, ethical breeder cares! They breed in the best genetics, health and temperament and actually want to better the breed. They care for the pregnant mum. And then they handle and socialise the pups in the best possible way during their first eight weeks of life. Ultimately setting your puppy up for a great start to life.
Let’s look into these a little deeper…
Puppy Farms are a terrible place.
Puppy Farms work on supply and demand. The more people keep buying from puppy farms the more puppies these places keep pumping out. But why is a puppy farm such a bad place to get a dog, you might be wondering?
The dictionary defines puppy factories as “A place where puppies are bred for profit”.
Also known as a puppy farm or puppy mill. Puppy factory dogs are frequently denied adequate food, water, and shelter. Their veterinary care and social needs are often disregarded. Breeding dogs are confined for most of their lives, in some cases, their entire life and most suffer painful and untreated health conditions 1.
Puppy factory dogs are not walked, patted or shown love. They’re not given the chance to nurture and love their pups, as they are usually taken from them earlier than they should be. When their exhausted bodies can no longer produce, they are often killed and replaced. They are deprived of social interaction, companionship, environmental enrichment, and they are not given a chance to bond with a human the same way a pet dog in a family home does1.
Dogs that live a life of deprivation develop severe psychological damage and, in some cases, even when rescued, these damaged dogs never fully recover. Dogs in puppy factories are kept in sheds or outdoor dirt yards and some dogs are kept in small crates. These cruel facilities supply pet shops with puppies or sell them online directly or via a broker. The unsuspecting public are told the pups are from “reputable breeders”1.
While some consumers may think buying a puppy from a pet shop or an online add is rescuing them or saving them, it is financially supporting one of Australia’s cruellest industries. If you don’t want to support puppy factories; never buy a puppy online or from a pet shop and always make sure to visit where they come from1.
The way the dogs are raised and treated in puppy farms can impact your puppies future health, behaviour and temperament.
Another reason you shouldn’t buy from a puppy farm is that more often than not, these people don’t care about finding dogs with the best temperament, genetics or health to breed from. Rather they are just thinking about mass production to make money. As a result, this can have a significant impact on your future dog!
The impact of the environment on the pregnant dog and the developing pups.
Breeders also influence environmental factors which have a great impact on the dogs’ future behaviour, and these include both before and after the puppies are born. Research conducted with species that rely heavily on maternal care for survival, suggests that “early maternal care behaviours play an important role in the development of the infant and thus, behaviour and temperament later in life”2. Hence the importance of making sure the pregnant mother is well cared for during her pregnancy.
Puppies born from a stressful pregnancy have been seen to show a greater sensitivity to the socialization period’s as well as a reduction in learning ability. It is known that petting and fussing over the pregnant dog results in offspring that are more relaxed and resistant to stress3. This is why it is SO important if you are buying a puppy from a breeder to always ask to see the mother and where she sleeps and is cared for. If you do not like what you see then do not buy a puppy from them.
Good genes and early life experiences (up to 8 weeks) are so important to behavioural development in dogs, and this is in the hands of the breeder.
Some of the behavioural problems we see in our pet dogs are caused by poor breeding practices and environments, which do not prepare the dogs for a future life as a pet in a home. Conscientious dog breeders want healthy dogs and aim to produce puppies that are free from hereditary medical conditions. Less well recognised is the fact that dogs need to be behaviourally healthy too and that breeders play an essential role in producing behaviourally or temperamentally sound puppies2.
It has also been found that the level of interactions between the mum and the puppies influences the physiological, cognitive and behavioural development of the litter4. Puppies have a critical period of development so it is essential that the breeders are aware of this and do everything they can to help set them up for a successful life ahead. Keeping them separated from their mum and siblings, kept in cages, poor conditions, not being touched and socialised correctly, can have a long-lasting effect on them. While caregivers are often blamed for their dogs’ behavioural issues, so many don’t consider that the dogs may be victims of poor breeding practices/environments that failed to prepare them for life as pets in a home3.
Why is it so important to find a reputable ethical breeder?
In all the work I do, I talk so much about setting yourself up for success. Making things as easy as possible for you. For example, your puppy is chewing up all your socks, then set them up for success and stop leaving your socks lying around. Same goes for a puppies start to life!
A reputable ethical breeder actually cares. They want to better the breed. They find the best dogs to breed from, the ones with the best genetics, health and temperament.
They take care of their dogs in a home environment. They care for the pregnant mum and make sure she is still exercised appropriately and has all her nutritional requirements met. They only breed from the one female a certain number of times giving her time in between5. Once the pups are born, a good breeder will help the mother to care for the pups. They will make sure each pup is fed enough. Puppies go through stages of development, and breeders should be equipped with the knowledge to maximise positive behavioural outcomes during the stages. They will begin helping the pups through their critical socialisation period; exposing them to all different people, including children, different sounds, textures, noises and ultimately preparing them for life as a family pet.
Why do they do all of this? Because they care!! So why not do what you can to give your pup the best start to life?!
How do I find a reputable and ethical breeder?
You now know why it is so important to get your new puppy from a good place. So make sure to take your time, do your research, go and visit a number of different breeders. Make sure you like the temperament of the dogs you visit. Make sure they are well cared for in a home environment. And now more than ever, you need to be patient! Good breeders have wait lists! So be prepared to wait. But I promise, it will be worth it!! It took us 12 months of waiting before we got Cooper!
Finding a breeder.
Social media and flashy websites have made it very easy for puppy factories to look ethical, so it’s important to be cautious1.
Make sure you always:
- Meet the mother and father of your puppy
- Visit where they were born (more than once if possible)
- See the pup interacting with its mum and litter mates and
- Check the breeder is registered with an approved organisation (for example ANKC).
Never, ever …
- Buy a puppy from someone who wants to meet you at a checkpoint;
- Have a puppy flown to you without seeing where they came from or;
- Get a puppy from a pet store.
Remember: While our intuition is always to help animals in need, buying a puppy from a puppy farm is not rescuing the dog1.
Consider adopting a rescue dog.
Choosing adoption means you won’t be supporting cruel puppy factories, but you will also be saving a life! While puppies are fun, adult and senior dogs also make sweet companions, too. They often come house-trained and know all the rules from their previous home, which is an added bonus. Please be mindful however when rescuing a dog that you may not know their background and behaviour history. If you have young children or other pets, make sure to get a positive trainer involved to help assist with selecting a dog that is going to be safe for you and your family.
Tip: Be patient! Hundreds of dogs and puppies are made available for adoption every single day. So, if you don’t see your perfect companion on your first look, don’t give up. The right dog for you will turn up soon1.
I hope from this article you now understand the true importance of why it is so important to find a reputable and ethical breeder and not support puppy farms! The best way we can all help is to raise awareness so that people stop buying puppies from puppy farms. Let’s get educated, do your research. Don’t rush it. Be patient. Find an ethical breeder who actually cares and treats their dogs the way they deserve to be treated and raises the pups in a home environment to be sociable beautiful dogs. This will ultimately help to set yourself and your new dog up for success, for a lifetime of fun, good health and happiness together.
Please help me spread this message and share this article around.
Make sure to get in touch if I can help in any way.
Previously articles I’ve written that might be of interest:
- When is the right time to get your family dog?
- Don’t support Puppy Farms. Do your research before buying your dog!
- Thinking about adopting or rescuing a dog?
- How do I find a reputable dog breeder?
- Oscar’s Law – https://www.oscarslaw.org/
- V.H. Czerwinskia, B.P. Smith, P.I. Hynda, S.J. Hazela. The influence of maternal care on stress-related behaviors in domestic dogs: What can we learn from the rodent literature? Journal of Veterinary Behavior., 14, (2016), pp. 52-59.
- E. Henley. Breeders’ role and responsibilities in the long-term behavioural health of canines. The Veterinary Nurse. (2019) https://www.theveterinarynurse.com
- K. Lezama-García,C. Mariti,D. Mota-Rojas, J. Martínez-Burnes, H. Barrios-García & A. Gazzano. Maternal behaviour in domestic dogs. Int J Vet Sci Med. 2019; 7(1): 20–30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6776987/
- The Australian National Kennel Council – http://ankc.org.au/