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How To Identify And Avoid A BYB

What is a Backyard Breeder?

A backyard breeder is understood to be an unregistered breeder who does not necessarily follow the ethics and / or responsibilities of the breeding community. says “The back yard breeder is the single greatest cause of pet overpopulation. Back yard breeders usually do not have bad intentions, but the results of back yard breeding are devastating.”

There are so many risks when it comes to purchasing a dog from a backyard breeder. These risks include but are of course not limited to:

the parents likely have not been screened for health problems

puppies usually are not sold with contracts and no future support to the buyer

the breeders are not in it for the long haul

They will be working on new personal objectives in five years when your pet has a problem and you need help”

Backyard Breeder vs Puppymill

I have been hearing quite often lately that puppy mills simply don’t exist. Perhaps this is due to confusion between puppy mills and backyard breeders. In my understanding, the difference between backyard breeders and puppy mills comes in the forms of both quantity and quality of puppies produced and sold.

With a backyard breeder, this more often than not begins ‘accidentally’, or as a hobby. People who engage in breeding as a hobby do not usually realize the negative effects their breeding has on the overall population of pets in shelters, which leads to euthanization of pets in high kill shelters. Backyard breeders usually own one to two females who are used for breeding purposes and will have consecutive litters of puppies until they are too old, and are then surrendered. They may or may not be considered part of the family even while they are being used to produce puppies for profit. Backyard breeders are not registered with a breeding registration in their country (AKC in the United States or CKC in Canada).

Puppy mills are also not registered in their country. Puppy mills will often be kept in much worse conditions than that of a backyard breeder. A puppy mill will consist of multiple females being used only for puppy production. These puppies are often kept in poor conditions, not given veterinary care even when necessary, and are bred purely for profit. The goal is quantity, but never quality. Puppies from puppy mills will often have health issues, and owners will often back out of any communications that may hold them accountable for any puppies.

What to watch for

-- Spelling mistakes in ads:

I often see the following blatant spelling mistakes in ads for dogs: the word ‘puppy’ is spelled ‘puppie’, and ‘bred’ (referring to a pure-bred pup) is spelled ‘bread’. No matter whether English is your first language, if breeding is something important to you, you should know how to spell the words related to this correctly.

-- Meeting somewhere else:

They won’t let you see where the pups live; they want to meet at a separate location. This is a red flag because it means you are unable to view the mother or father (meaning you can’t see their demeanor), or the conditions in which the puppies are being raised.

-- They don’t have vet records:

Never ever take someone’s word for it, no matter how trustworthy they may seem. Puppy mill owners are essentially scam artists. They will convince you that they care for these pups and want the best for them. They ‘lost the paperwork’, or something else happened to it, but they promise the pups are up to date on their shots, are dewormed, and have been declared healthy by a veterinarian. Never purchase a puppy without proof of health in the form of vet records. Some may claim that they have administered the vaccinations themselves, as many registered breeders do. If this is the case, they will still be able to provide you with paperwork. Never leave without proof! Even if this is the case, every puppy should have had a basic check up by a vet to make sure he / she is healthy.

-- Poor quality photos

As stated above, the focus is on quantity, not quality, so with the vast amount of puppy photos being taken on a regular basis to post them for sale, the quality of the photos are often poor and blurry, or you may not even be seeing a photo of the exact puppy or even litter that is currently available. This quality is reminiscent of the quality of care put into raising the puppies.

For those who think it’s not that big of a deal:

I’m sharing this from a Facebook post by Dogs Without Borders rescue based in Los Angeles California. Please note that the wording and photos belong to them. This wonderful rescue can be found at

Okay everyone, this is very upsetting. This is what backyard breeding looks like. This is what buying dogs off of Craigslist looks like. This is what it looks like when people don't spay and neuter and then decide to make "a couple of extra bucks" by breeding their dogs. This is what it looks like when dogs are kept in squalid conditions and not considered part of the family. These are two ***7 week old*** pug puppies. There was a third. It didn't make it. They have demodex mange so bad that they've lost all of their fur. In 7 weeks.

The bigger one is a boy named Zucchini. He's about 4 lb. Squash is a little girl, she's less than 2 lb. There's something wrong with her eyes and we're truly not sure if she's going to pull through. We've rushed them to the vet so that we can give them a Fighting Chance. Although demodex mange is not deadly and also not contagious, this is just a surface problem to what is surely a cascade of health concerns underneath, all from neglect. Their bills are already over 2k! We thought we were going to take a break this week from senior and medical dogs, and try and get a couple of easy pups, but we couldn't turn our backs on these two.”


I’m going to leave this here for now. If you have any questions, you can always contact me for a helpful discussion at or find me at Backyard breeders are bad. That’s that. If an animal is bred for profit and not cared for and loved, it’s a bad situation. Don’t support them. Support a local rescue or a no-kill shelter instead. They care enough to put effort into the animals and will support you and the animal after adoption too. Think before you buy. Adopt, don’t shop.

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