I was coming out of a veterinarian’s office the other week when I ran into a woman who had been a client in a puppy class a couple years ago. Her pup, an adorable English Bulldog, was a delight — classically Bulldog. He was a gift from the woman’s son. This woman loved her dog more than anything. Sadly, though, when we had our chance encounter two years later, things were not so rosy.

She told me that her sweet boy had hip dysplasia, a luxating patella and bad ACLs, and had started having cluster seizures. Wow. She further told me she’d racked up some $10,000 in veterinary bills. She loved this dog so and just couldn’t imagine not doing everything in her power to make things better for him. After a little more conversation, it was clear that this poor dog and woman were victims of a unscrupulous breeder.

And I do mean victims. Had her son known the red flags of bad breeders, so much misery and money could have been saved. Despite many efforts to sensibly regulate dog breeding around the country, puppy mills and poor quality backyard breeders persist, breeding dogs that live shortened lives fraught with extensive health and behavior problems. Regulation is important, but eliminating the end market for these dogs will force bad breeders to close up operations. Don’t be a victim: know the warning signs of a bad breeder.

  • Well-bred dogs are not cheap. If the price of the pup seems low compared to other breeders, there’s a reason.
  • Bad breeders sell to pet stores and through the Internet. Don’t shop for your pup in one of these places.
  • Bad breeders will likely bring or ship the pup to you. Demand to see at least one parent of your prospective pup, as well as where the pups and mom are kept at the breeder’s house.
  • A bad breeder won’t sign a contract with you that, among other things, ensures that you can return the dog to them at any point in the dog’s life, for any reason.
  • A bad breeder will breed dogs too young or too old, and will breed the same female multiple times per year.
  • Bad breeders know and care little about ensuring the pup’s behavioral and medical health.
  • Bad breeders don’t care who they sell to and if the pup is a good fit with the home he or she is going to.
For more information on finding a good breeder and how to avoid supporting the puppy mill trade, please visit the Selecting Your New Best Friend section on our Doggone Helpful page of our website.