Reputable Breeder vs. Backyard Breeder vs. Puppy Mill

For many people who are not involved in animal rescue, a reputable breeder is probably a term they believe they know the definition of. A backyard breeder is another dog breeding term that has become more popular and focused on in the last decade or so. And last but not least are puppy mills which I would assume the majority of people have heard. I will talk about the factual difference between these three types of breeding situations and my personal opinion on them, which comes from having a background in animal rescue.

Reputable Breeder

A reputable breeder is someone who has chosen to breed dogs and has most likely bred a lot of puppies over the years. Reputable breeders are also considered “hobby breeders” as they breed dogs not for monetary profit, but the betterment and love of the breed. A reputable breeder may have an AKC certification for their specific breed, but it is not required to be considered as a reputable breeder.

The best way to find out if a breeder is reputable is to (1) go see the animals, kennels, and parents in person before putting a deposit down on the animal and, (2) look for reviews from a vet, friends, or previous buyers to ensure that they are factual in their breeding claims. If they are AKC certified, they will have pedigree paperwork for the puppies that certify the breed and has the “American Kennel Club” logo clearly on the paperwork.

My opinion on breeders is that if you choose to purchase an animal, you should always use a reputable breeder, but I always advise you to try and find the animal you are searching for in rescue first. There are many breed-specific rescues, that may even have litters of puppies, instead of buying from a breeder. I believe that an animal coming into your home is a part of your family and deserves to be treated as one. If you are only purchasing a dog because of its aesthetic looks or other surface-level reasons, you should not own a dog. Period.

I also highly advise you to research breeds you are interested in, before even looking for breeders or rescues. Many people gravitate towards breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Huskies, not realizing how high energy of an animal they are. You should ALWAYS understand the temperament and expectations for a certain breed before bringing them into your life.

Photo by Chevanon Photography from Pexels

Backyard Breeder

A backyard breeder is an amateur animal breeder whose breeding is considered substandard, with little or misguided efforts towards ethical, selective breeding. A backyard breeder will not have an AKC certification and the living conditions for the litters and parents, are not up to requirements. A backyard breeder will normally be doing this out of their home, with little to no proper equipment and supplies, and is most likely breeding for monetary reasons.

Some things to look out for when researching breeders is if they are willing to let you come meet the puppies and the parents. If they are not, then they are not a reputable breeder. You want to ensure you speak to them in person and ask as many questions as possible. Another sign for backyard breeders is the living conditions and overall health of the puppies. The puppies can receive their first set of shots before the 12-week mark they can be weaned from their mother, therefore, you should request vaccination paperwork and veterinary exam information. If a breeder is not willing to share this information, they are not reputable or taking care of their litters.

My personal opinion on backyard breeders is that they are simply trying to make a quick penny. They are most likely not providing necessary veterinary care and do not care for these animals. If you find yourself researching a breed, deciding on the right fit, and choosing to buy from a breeder, please do not buy from a backyard breeder. If you choose to go the breeder route, make sure they are someone who is going to take care of your animal while they are in their care.

Puppy Mill

A puppy mill is a commercial dog breeding facility characterized by quick breeding and poor conditions. A puppy mill operates as a company that breeds dogs to sell to puppy and animal stores. Puppy mills are not regulated and are known for horrible conditions for all animals involved. In recent years, there has been a large push in legislation for banning puppy mills. For example, the City of Reno placed a moratorium on new puppy store license requests for some time to combat the public issues on puppy stores in the area.

Seeing as though many places and states are pushing for tighter restrictions and even banning puppy mills completely, should be a reg flag on buying a puppy from this type of business. Puppy mills are known to neglect their animals and dump the parents at shelters once they cannot produce any more litter. The puppies are not provided with proper veterinary care and vaccinations and therefore more likely to contract diseases such as parvo and distemper.

My personal opinion on puppy mills is to stay far away from them. They may look cute at the store and behind the glass begging to get out, but what you don’t see behind closed doors is horrifying. There have been reports from store employees saying these animals barely get fed, laying in their feces without proper cleaning, and even selling puppies knowing they are sick or battling a disease just to make their profit. If you are buying a puppy from a breeder you are supporting animal abuse and neglect. I always advise adopting over shopping, but if you are choosing to purchase an animal, please support reputable breeders over backyard breeders or puppy mills.

If you have any questions on how to find a rescue for the specific breed you are looking for, please feel free to reach out at, and I will help however I can. Finding a puppy from a reputable breeder or rescue is possible but it takes a little more time than driving down to your closest puppy store. To be frank, if youaren’t willing to take the time to find your animal, you shouldn’t be bringing home an animal. Subscribe for more on rescuing animals and fostering!

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