Have you ever walked by a pet store and fawned over the puppies in the window? They look adorable, playful, and happy, right?

If only you knew the grim truth about puppy mills.

Today, there are around 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S. Less than 3,000 of them are regulated. This is only a rough estimate, as not all puppy mills are registered, and their numbers are continually changing.

The majority, if not all, pet store puppies come from puppy mills. Keep reading to learn more about the dangers of puppy mills.

What Are Puppy Mills?

Puppy mills are large facilities used to breed dogs. Their one goal is to reproduce and sell dogs to make as much money as possible.

Dogs that come from puppy mills are kept in horrific conditions—some make even the most atrocious jails look like heaven. The animals inside are bred over and over again. Most puppy mill breeders will keep dogs in cages their whole lives without providing proper care.

Common puppy mill conditions include:

  • Cages stacked on top of one another leading to inadequate ventilation
  • Small cages with wire floors that injure the animals’ feet and legs
  • Poor sanitary practices that lead to parasites and illness
  • Forced breeding of female dogs without ample recovery time
  • Separating puppies from their mothers at young ages, which impacts behavior and health for life

Most puppy mills sell their dogs through pet stores or on the internet.

Not only do puppy mills harm the individual animals, but they’re detrimental to the breeds they reproduce. Often, dogs are bred without any regard for genetic quality, which leads to animals prone to hereditary and congenital conditions.

There are several other reasons it’s imperative to avoid puppy mills when searching for a new puppy.

1. Perpetuating the Cycle

It’s easy to fall in love with puppies at a pet store. Many people believe that by purchasing a puppy from a store, they are rescuing it from poor conditions. However, this isn’t true.

When you purchase a puppy from a pet store, the money goes back into the pockets of the puppy mill. You may be providing a home for the one puppy you purchase, but your money will ensure a puppy mill stays in business. You’re feeding the problem by encouraging the mill to keep other animals in the same horrendous conditions.

If a pet store clerk tells you the puppies come from licensed breeders, this doesn’t mean they source from ethical breeders. “Licensed” means the breeder has filed all of the necessary paperwork they need to run a business.

2. Poor Health

Puppies bred inside puppy mills are often in poor health. This is because of the poor conditions they are born and kept in.

When breeders breed dogs irresponsibly, they do so without regard to the puppy’s health. The unlucky puppies often suffer from joint dysplasia, neurological and eye problems, and Canine Parvovirus.

3. Future Behavioral and Psychological Problems

Puppy mill puppies are 30-60% more likely to show aggression and fear towards people and other dogs. They’re also more prone to separation anxiety than dogs that come from reliable breeders.

These dogs are also more susceptible to miscellaneous behavior issues such as escaping from the house and mounting objects and people. Experts believe this is because they experience limited socialization as puppies and their mothers are stressed out by the poor conditions.

House training puppy-mill-sourced puppies can also be an issue, as these puppies are kept in small cages. This means they’ve always soiled close to where they sleep and eat. Unfortunately, this fact makes house training much more difficult than usual. They will eventually catch on, but it often takes longer.

4. More Expensive

More money is the goal of irresponsible puppy mill breeders, so their puppies are often more expensive than those from reputable breeders.

Pet stores will sell these puppies at a high price because, after all, they’re a business.

A puppy from a mill will also most likely require more veterinary care, thanks to cramped conditions and parasites. You also have to consider the chance of genetic health issues that will cause problems as the dog ages.

5. Going in Blind

When reputable breeders are ready to sell puppies, they often allow potential pet owners to visit their homes and see the breeding conditions. You may also have the opportunity to meet your puppy’s parents.

When purchasing from a pet store that sources from a puppy mill, there is a chance you won’t get what you pay for. You may have papers indicating that your puppy is purebred and realize that it’s not the case as they grow.

Pedigrees and paperwork for dogs are often faked, so there is no way to know that you’re buying a purebred dog. Knowing the puppy’s parents is the surest way to understand how your puppy will look and behave as an adult.

You can find pets for sale from ethical, reputable breeders that will put your mind at ease.

6. No Genetic Health Tests

We’ve already discussed the detrimental effects of poor breeding tactics. As puppy mills aim to keep their costs at a minimum, their animals receive very little veterinary care—if they get any at all.

Genetic testing is also an expense most puppy mills can’t—or won’t—work into the budget. If parents have underlying health issues such as heart disease and hip and elbow dysplasia, they can pass them to their puppies.

Stop the Cruel Cycle of Puppy Mills

When looking for your next canine family member, remember that every time a pet store sells a puppy from a mill, another takes its place. It’s an endless cycle of cruelty.

Instead of considering purchasing from puppy mills, check out your local shelter or rescue or talk to a reputable breeder.

Keep browsing our website for puppy-related content such as how to buy a new puppy, current pet trends, and other helpful information.