border collie puppies

What is a Puppy Farmer?

Puppy Farmers – how do you know when you see one?

A Puppy Farmer breeds dogs for money. So anyone who breeds from their dog simply to make some money could be seen as a farmer, but that’s not it. Having one or two litters from your pet dog is not the same as setting up a business and doing it on a large scale.

Breeding professionally is not necessarily the same as breeding commercially. If you LOVE your dogs and decide to promote them, show them and then breed from them, you might end up with lots of dogs. They might have lots of puppies. You might then decide to have a professional setup, which involves kennels and outdoor runs. (Or you might just end up with lots of dogs in your house, on your sofas, on your beds, by your feet…)

puppy farmer

It might seem a fine line then, between breeding for the love of dogs and breeding for the love of money. If you love your dogs, you might find the money generated from having puppies comes in handy to pay for your dogs. But that isn’t really true. If you LOVE your dogs, you will spend ALL your money on them.

Puppy Farming – Definition

“Puppy farmers produce lots of puppies in poor conditions and with little consideration for their health and welfare.”

The Kennel Club: avoiding puppy farmers

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.

puppy farmer

What does a Puppy Farmer do differently?

Here’s a description of someone’s experience of buying 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. She is a ‘breeder’ rather than the same as you (breeding your pets). Albeit a well organised breeder. She breeds 4/5 different ‘types’ and has a big set up. Was all very professional, clean, spacious etc but not ‘pets’. Lived in a massive beautiful house with lots of land and kennels. She clearly make lots of money from it! “

puppy farmer
Is it a Labradoodle?

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? Unless you are given copies of paperwork, you can’t easily verify what your puppy is and where it has come from.
  • A breeder, but not ‘breeding 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. No personal care and cuddling. These puppies may never see a human being before they are sent off.
  • 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. Not to mention health tests. It costs a LOT of money to breed well.

Paperwork is essential

If I had a pound for every time someone said to me “I’m not interested in the paperwork, I don’t want to show/breed from my dog”, then I’d be a rich person. I recently realised that buying a dog should be like buying a car – it’s a big, expensive purchase that you have for years. Unlike a car of course, dogs are living, breathing animals that are part of your family!

So, would you go along to some tatty garage and pick up a car that looked like it was cobbled together from different cars? Would you pay thousands for a car with no paperwork? There is a registration system for cars, so that we know where they are from and who has owned them before us. We need cars to have health checks (services and MOTs).

puppy farmer

Dogs need these things too, We need to record where they are born and who their parents are. It is vital that we take advantage of health tests available, to ensure we produce healthier dogs.

One ‘type’ of dogs is enough

If you care passionately about your dogs and want to breed from them, you don’t often have more than one or two different breeds. When you DON’T care about what you are producing, you might mix and match to get whatever the buyer wants. You might even tell the buyer a dog is one type of crossbreed, when it is something else entirely! That is fraud, pure and simple, but it happens all the time.

Questions for the breeder

Here are a few questions you could ask your breeder:

  1.  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.
  2.  How many litters do you have per year?  How many does each dog have?    How old are they when they have the first litter?  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.
  3.  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.
  4. 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.

border collie breeder
NOT a puppy farmer

What to do if you suspect someone is puppy farming

People are (unfortunately) cunning and devious. They know many ways to take your money. Equally, there are good people out there with the best of intentions, who don’t know how to do the right thing.

If you think that a breeder may be a puppy farmer, or is breeding irresponsibly:

  • Never purchase a puppy from them, even if you think you are rescuing the puppy. That puppy may be better off going home with you, but by giving the “breeder” money, you are funding them to breed even more dogs, possibly from the puppies’ mother, in horrible and unethical conditions
  • Report them to the RSPCA, the police or your local authority –local councils, animal health officers and the police have the power to enforce the law.

Taken from The Kennel Club: avoiding puppy farmers

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. Do your research! Read how to get a perfect dog!


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