FACT: If people stop buying from puppy mills they will go out of business, so remember never buy a puppy from a petshop, internet website or a puppy broker.

Buying a puppy should be done with a great deal of thought and consideration. Not only do we need responsible breeders but we also need responsible, educated buyers. Be careful of buying a puppy off the internet as you could be supporting a puppy mill, or fall victim to the many puppy scams.

What is a puppy mill? 

A puppy mill is a commercial dog breeding operation which keeps large quantities of dogs in overcrowded, often shockingly inhumane conditions, and is a well-kept secret of the pet trade industry. The dogs are kept in constant confinement in cages or small runs; they receive no proper veterinary care or socialization. Fearful behaviour and lack of socialization with humans and other animals are typical of puppy mill dogs. Puppies born in puppy mills are removed from their littermates and mothers at just six weeks of age. The first months of a puppy’s life are a critical socialization period for puppies. These puppies are sold by puppy brokers on their websites and on free classifieds like Gumtree, Junkmail, Cape Ads, etc. Puppy mills are a reality in South Africa and Boston Terrier Rescue can confirm that there are two mills with over thirty Bostons on their premises.

Responsible Breeders Never

  • Prevent you from seeing the conditions under which the puppies were raised

  • Meet you halfway and sell you a puppy out of the back of a car

  • Sell sight unseen over the Internet

  • Sell puppies to pet stores or deal with animal/puppy brokers

How to Find a Responsible Breeder

Always visit the breeders home if you are not in the same city ask a friend/ family member or Boston Terrier Rescue to help you.

Is the puppy raised in a clean home environment? Puppies should not be kept outside; they should be in an indoor room with food, water and bedding where the puppies and mother spend their time as part of the family.

Are the puppy parents available for viewing? Always ask to see the puppy’s mother and father. Responsible breeders will want to introduce prospective buyers to the dog’s mother and father. Sometimes breeders use stud dogs that do not belong to them, and in this case it is acceptable if the father is not on the premises. The mother dog, however, should always be present. It is important to note the health and temperament of the parents. If they are unfriendly or show signs of malnutrition or illness, there is a good chance that the puppy may have health or temperament problems.

What are the puppies being fed? Responsible breeders feed their pregnant dogs, nursing mothers and puppies high-quality puppy food because it contains a higher level of fat and protein than adult dog food formulas. If the breeder is feeding the puppies or mother an adult dog food or a low-quality dog food that does not have the appropriate level of nutrients, the animals could have or could develop heath issues.

How many dogs does the breeder have? Responsible breeders generally breed only one litter of puppies at a time and generally have only one breed of dog. Puppies need a lot of social interaction with people beginning at an early age to develop good socialization skills and sound temperaments. This socialization cannot occur effectively when there are too many dogs and puppies in the environment. Multiple litters of puppies and multiple breeds of dogs on the premises indicate that you could be dealing with a puppy mill or backyard breeder.

Have the puppies received their vacs and deworming? Responsible breeders will always provide you with a health certificate showing that the puppy received its first set of vaccinations, worming and an examination by a licensed veterinarian. These can easily be faked so call the vet and check. You should never buy a puppy that has not had this initial veterinary care. Almost all puppies are born with intestinal worms because mother dogs can serve as carriers even though they themselves are not infected.

All puppies are also at risk for several serious diseases, such as parvovirus and distemper. To ensure they are adequately protected against these diseases, puppies need to receive their first vaccinations before they are separated from their mothers. An initial exam by a licensed veterinarian will also give you peace of mind that the puppy has been checked for illness and genetic defects.

Is the breeder knowledgeable about the breeds health issue? Responsible breeders will be knowledgeable about their breed’s genetic risks and honest about genetic disorders in their dogs. They will be able to provide OFA Hip or other test documentation when indicated.

How old is the mother and how often does the breeder breed her? Responsible breeders will not breed a dog until she is two years of age, and will breed her no more than every other heat cycle or about once per year. This ensures that the mother has time to rest and recover between litters. Puppy mill breeders typically breed their dogs at the first heat and at every heat cycle thereafter until the dog is worn out and can no longer produce litters.

Does the breeder require you to have the puppy sterilized?  Responsible breeders often require that you have the puppy spayed or neutered before the age of six months. This is a good thing. Responsible breeders recognize that most people do not have the time or resources to breed their new pet responsibly. They also recognize that pet overpopulation is a serious concern and they do not want their puppies to add to this problem.

What kind of papers does the dog have? Registration papers from KUSA merely prove that both the dog’s parents are of purebred lineage. KUSA registration is not a reliable indicator of good health or temperament or responsible breeding practices, as many puppy mills produce KUSA-registered puppies. Responsible breeders may breed dogs that indeed have KUSA papers, but the presence of these “papers” is not an indicator of the breeders’ quality.

Does the breeder sell mixed-breed puppies?Most responsible breeders breed only one type of purebred and put considerable time, effort and financial resources into breeding only dogs with good health and temperament. Responsible breeders try to produce puppies that come as close as possible to the breed’s standard in conformation and temperament. So-called “designer” mixed breeds such as Bugs( Bostons cross pugs), cockapoos, Malti-poos, puggles, Labradoodles, and goldendoodles are often bred by puppy mills or novices looking to make a quick profit.

Will the breeder take the dog back if there is a problem? Good breeders love their animals and are concerned with their welfare and future. Responsible breeders may not be able to refund your money, but they will accept your dog back and take the responsibility of rehoming him if you find you can no longer care for him for any reason.