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What is a puppymill?

Probably the best way to explain what a puppymill isn't, is to delineate the different types of breeders, and then give a definition of a responsible breeder:

Hobby breeder: A breed fancier who usually has only one breed but may have two; follows a breeding plan in efforts to preserve and protect the breed; produces from none to three or four litters per year; breeds only when a litter will enhance the breed and the breeding program; raises the puppies with plenty of environmental and human contact; has a contract that protects breeder, dog, and buyer; may either breed from their home, where the dogs are housed or from a small, clean kennel; screens breeding stock to eliminate hereditary defects from the breed; works with a breed club or kennel club to promote and protect the breed; and cares that each and every puppy is placed in the best home possible.

Professional Breeder: Similar to Hobby Breeder but general produces from two to twelve litters a year of one or two different breeds.  Typically runs a small, clean kennel with separate facilities for whelping and nursing bitches and another area for weaned pups.  Facility is clean and up to date. All breeding is in adherence to a breeding program which is usually strict and formed by several involved with the breed. Breeding stock are screened to eliminate hereditary defects from the breed.  They work closely with breed and kennel clubs to promote and protect the breed, they guarantee all pups produced against hereditary defects and temperament inconsistencies usually for at least two years.  They offer refunds or exchanges during this period.  They may see a small profit from their breeding practices but that profit is typically invested back into better facilities for the animals.

Commercial breeder: One who usually has several breeds of dogs with profit as the primary motive for existence. The dogs may be healthy or not and the kennel may be clean or not. The dogs are probably not screened for genetic diseases, and the breeding stock is probably not selected for resemblance to the breed standard or for good temperament. Most commercial breeders sell their puppies to pet stores or to brokers who sell to pet stores.

Broker: One who buys puppies from commercial kennels and sells to retail outlets. Brokers often ship puppies by the crate-load on airlines or by truckload throughout the country. Brokers must be licensed by USDA and must abide by the shipping regulations in the Animal Welfare Act.

Buncher: One who collects dogs of unknown origin for sale to laboratories or other bunchers or brokers. Bunchers are considered lower on the evolutionary scale than puppy mill operators, for there is much suspicion that they buy stolen pets, collect pets advertised as "Free to a good home", and adopt unwanted pets from animal shelters for research at veterinary colleges or industrial research laboratories.

Backyard breeder: A dog owner whose pet either gets bred by accident or who breeds on purpose for a variety of reasons. This breeder is usually ignorant of the breed standard, genetics, behavior, and good health practices. A backyard breeder can very easily become a commercial breeder, a collector, or a puppy mill.

Puppy mill: A breeder who produces puppies hand over fist with no breeding program, little attention to puppy placement, and poor health and socialization practices. A puppy mill may or may not be dirty but it is usually overcrowded and the dogs may be neglected or abused because the breeder can't properly handle as many dogs as he has. Puppy mill operators often denigrate hobby breeders or professional breeders and their dogs in attempts to make a sale.

Responsible Breeding

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