What is a Puppy Farmer?

How can we improve dog breeding standards and stop the puppy farmer?

Talking about how to stop a puppy farmer is difficult.  People demand dogs; in particular they want ‘designer breeds’ or particular breeds (currently French Bulldogs).  This means that unscrupulous people capitalise on this demand – why wouldn’t they?  And people feel that ALL breeders are only in it for the money and don’t care about the welfare of their dogs.

puppy farmerHow often will people say to me “you should only get dogs from rescues – there are too many dogs!” I have talked about whether you should go to a rescue or breeder but today I am re-visiting definition of a puppy farmer.

Puppy Farmer – Definition

“A puppy bred by a commercially driven breeder with low welfare standards”.

What does that mean exactly?  Quite simply, it means that the breeder cares more about making money than how healthy and happy their dogs are.  They do not care about their customers either; they are simply the mugs stupid enough to buy whatever is being sold, at any price.

If you are ‘doing it for money’ then it becomes a business.  But if you are doing it well and responsibly, then surely you should be rewarded for your efforts?  NB: Never get a dog for nothing: it costs money to produce a healthy and happy puppy (see health testing – why bother?), so it is therefore right that such dogs should be paid for.  Equally, don’t pay £1000 for a crossbreed – why is it worth that?

Kennel Club work

The Kennel Club issued a document last year : ‘Collaboration is the Key – the Way Forward for Breeding Regulations’.  The Kennel is working towards:

“A new system so that more breeders are inspected, good breeders are more identifiable to puppy buyers and puppy farmers and bad breeders are driven out of business”

As a member of the Assured Breeder Scheme I am kept informed about the Kennel Club’s campaign for their scheme to be fully incorporated into the local authority licensing regime.

Better inspection regulations

The government is committed to introducing new regulations on dog breeding, which will reduce the litter licensing threshold at which breeders will require a licence, from five litters per year to three.

Defra has given a commitment to incorporate the concept of earned recognition into the new licensing system. This will include consideration of affiliation to a body accredited by UKAS (i.e. the Assured Breeder Scheme), in a risk-based assessment process which would ensure a reduced burden on lAssured Breeders, who are seen as low risk.

“The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme makes it easy for people to find responsible breeders, whose standards have already been assessed.”

The KC want to ensure that the new system works in practice in order that more breeders are inspected, good breeders are more identifiable to puppy buyers and puppy farmers and bad breeders are driven out of business. This means using this opportunity to grow the scheme by incentivising the best breeders to join and improving the standards of health and welfare in dog breeding.

puppy farmer

What does a puppy farmer do differently?

Here’s a description of where someone got a puppy:

“She went through the puppy pack with all the breed details from mum and dad with us, but didn’t give it to us to take away. This was a ‘breeder’ rather than ‘breeding from pets’.  She breeds 4/5 different ‘types’ and has a big set up. Was all very professional, clean, spacious etc but not ‘pets’. She clearly make lots of money from it! “

Here are the alarm bells for me:

  • Didn’t give away details of parents – were they actually the parents of that pup? Had they been health tested appropriately for their breed?
  • A breeder, but not ‘breeding from pets’.  Sorry? Aren’t you buying a pet?  Why would you want something not bred as a pet?  That’s the very definition of doing it as a business.
  • She breeds 4/5 different types and has a big set up.  Not pedigree dogs, defined by their characteristics and lineage, just random mongrels.  A big set up – 20 dogs? 50? Not much time for them then.
  • She clearly makes lots of money from it!  No other income? Relying on this income to live on means the litter must be profitable.  So not spending money on health testing, toys and good quality food.

puppy farmerQuestions for the breeder

  •  How many dogs do you have?  Can I see them?  Where do they live?  Good breeders might have a number of dogs, but they will be part of the family.  They might spend some time each day in crates or runs, but should be in the house for most of the time.
  •  How many litters do you have per year?  What is the age of the dog when it has its first liter?  And the last?  A litter of puppies is extremely time consuming (or should be!) So the more litters you have, the harder it is to spend time cuddling the pups.

Dogs should have no more than 4 litters each, between the ages of two and eight.

  •  Who is the sire?  Why was he chosen? How closely related is he to the mother of the litter?  What is the in-breeding coefficient? Stud dogs should be from good lines, fully health tested and with a good temperament.  They should be similar in breeding to the bitch without being too closely related.
  • What health tests have the parents had?  Can I have copies of these test certificates?  If the correct tests have been done for the breed, copies of these tests should be given to you as part of your puppy pack.

If the puppies are pedigree dogs, all this information is available on the Kennel Club website.  You can look up dogs and breeders and see who has had what, how they are related and what health tests they have had.  As soon as you move away from pedigree dogs, this information is not compulsory, therefore breeders don’t need to bother following the KC rules.puppy farmer

A final thought

“Dogs owned by people who spent more than an hour researching where to buy them from are likely to live twice as long as those who spent under 20 minutes choosing a puppy, with mean mortality ages of 8.8 and 4.3 respectively.” (Taken from the KC report ‘Collaboration is the Key – the Way Forward for Breeding Regulations’).  As a result of buying from puppy farms, people claim to have suffered emotional and financial hardship, the KC report.

Ask for help?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice.  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.


Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

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