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So how do you spot a puppy farmer?

(41 Posts)
fivedogstofeed Sun 03-Nov-19 12:11:08

There have been a few threads recently asking for reassurance about buying a puppy, and while puppy farms are very easy to spot when you have a bit of knowledge, it could be useful to give a few pointers.

Please do not buy from someone if...
--they have multiple adverts for multiple breeds and crossbreeds and a constant stream of puppies available
-the photos are all posed in the same way - on a fur blanket/red rug for Christmas/inside a boot/beside a teacup
- it is a purebred pup but not KC registered
-they claim to raise the puppies in a family home even though they have multiple litters on the go at one time ( this is just not feasible)

- vet check is not the same as health testing, nowhere near. Health testing is expensive, a vet check is a quick look to make sure there is no obvious sign of illness.
- the fact that they have 'many previous happy customers' means nothing. Many people are taken in by puppy farmers and the industry is supported by people who think because their puppy turned out healthy then all is OK.
- it is illegal to sell a puppy that is not microchipped
-it's not illegal, but bad practice to sell a puppy without vaccinations

Google the phone number, search companies house, google the breeder's name - may sound obvious but not everyone does it.

This is just the basics. Please also read Dogs Trust Guide to buying puppy

And if you really don't know what puppy farming is, please educate yourself reading about it here

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GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Sun 03-Nov-19 12:40:21

I'd also add, make 100% sure that you see the puppies with their dam, not with a random bitch of the right breed. She should be in milk, the puppies should still be going to her often even at 8 weeks, though she might be sick to death of them by then.

Be aware that some puppy farmers, and esp importers of puppy-farmed puppies, will use 'front' houses. They might even bring the dam with them while they flog the puppies, then send the dam right back to whatever hovel they breed her in.

it's not illegal, but bad practice to sell a puppy without vaccinations
I'm not sure about that.
My understanding is that not all vets follow the same protocols, so it better to start your puppy off with your own vet. It's what I've always done, except with the puppy the breeder hung onto for us for an extra month, who used the same vets as we did.

I think we should bump this thread every day between now and Christmas. I might come back tomorrow with a comment about how being raised in a puppy farm is bad for the puppy.

ScreamingCosArgosHaveNoRavens Sun 03-Nov-19 12:43:52

I would add, be very wary of pups for sale through any kind of online marketplace. If you want a specific breed, contact a breed club and ask for recommendations.

ScreamingCosArgosHaveNoRavens Sun 03-Nov-19 12:44:34

... and expect to go on a waiting list for a litter.

LolaSmiles Sun 03-Nov-19 12:49:59

This is a really good thread to have, and one which will hopefully stop the usual unhelpful claims that if someone buys a puppy then they must be from a puppy farmer.

Given the number of puppy threads on MN, I'll add for lurkers things to consider before getting a puppy starting with making sure that if you're getting a puppy you have adequate support in place, you're not relying on someone popping in at lunch because you're out at work, that you've taken advice from dog forums or sites (and not just other people on Facebook who tell each other it's fine because they're working and the pup will get used to it).

fivedogstofeed Sun 03-Nov-19 13:06:01

@GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman probably should have said that if the pup is vaccinated to check that this has been done by a vet, not the 'breeder', check that the vet stated actually does exist and practices near where the puppies are living. There are a helluva lot of dodgy vax certificates around.

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lastqueenofscotland Sun 03-Nov-19 14:52:41

Not being able to meet mum is the biggest one for me.
I’d be asking how old mum was how many litters she’d had.
Any expensive cross breeds are 9/10 puppy farmers too I’ve found

CallMeRachel Sun 03-Nov-19 15:21:03

You should expect to be shown several photos of the mother and litter from birth.

Any seller who claims the mother was killed and litter was hand reared, can't provide photos (claims phone lost / stolen) is likely selling imported pups.

Gypsies often breed and sell small fluffy pups (designer cross breeds) the conditions are usually horrendous. The pups are placed in a tub, basket or a fancy rug (look for cellophane on the back of caravan sofa in background).

If buying from gumtree check out how kong seller has been on site for, and read reviews. If it's a newly made account, avoid.

bluebluezoo Sun 03-Nov-19 15:24:20

If it has a portmanteau name chance are it’s farmed.

Personally i would never take a puppy from it’s mum until 10-12 weeks. If they insist
On earlier It’s likely a farm. Sooner the pups are gone the sooner they can be on with the next litter.

CallMeRachel Sun 03-Nov-19 15:32:39

I disagree, puppies in the UK are legally able to be rehomed from 8 weeks.

Mine came from a reputable breeder and all went home gradually from 8 weeks.

bluebluezoo Sun 03-Nov-19 16:46:26

I disagree, puppies in the UK are legally able to be rehomed from 8 weeks

I didn't say it wasn't legal. I said I would prefer to rehire between 10 and 12 weeks as I feel it's important for the puppy's development. A breeder insisting it was 8 weeks or they'd sell to someone else would ring alarm bells.

LolaSmiles Sun 03-Nov-19 16:46:35

I disagree on the 10-12 weeks.

We went through a reputable breeder, viewed at 8 weeks and took them home at 9 weeks with all required paperwork, vaccinations etc. The breeder was quite happy for people to collect when was good for them and the puppy.

bluebluezoo Sun 03-Nov-19 16:49:40

*I disagree on the 10-12 weeks.

We went through a reputable breeder, viewed at 8 weeks and took them home at 9 weeks with all required paperwork, vaccinations etc. The breeder was quite happy for people to collect when was good for them and the puppy*

Read my post!!

I said I prefer to rehome older as I have a small breed I feel does better waiting.

Your breeder waited til 9 weeks- my point was any breeder insisting on 8 weeks (or immediately) would raise red flags.

tabulahrasa Sun 03-Nov-19 16:50:55

8 weeks is the right age for most breeds, fits in with their developmental stages for socialisation and training.

Tiny and giant breeds are usually 12 weeks though, but everything else is 8.

crustycrab Sun 03-Nov-19 16:52:03

How can you possibly know that a dog is the mother?

Wolfiefan Sun 03-Nov-19 16:52:07

Really good breeders don’t always have a waiting list. They breed rarely and not to order.
I would want to know why they’re breeding. To continue a line, to work, to show, to bring a new pup on in agility?
I would want to know what health tests parents should have before breeding. These can be specialist and may not be done by a vet. Eg wolfhounds need a proper heart test.

tabulahrasa Sun 03-Nov-19 16:58:33

“my point was any breeder insisting on 8 weeks (or immediately) would raise red flags.”


The issue there though isn’t how old the puppy is, it’s the, must take it now.

TeacupRex Sun 03-Nov-19 17:05:12

Just to add - puppy farms are not always the awful dank, dark barns filled with rows and rows of overbred and poorly kept bitches and their litters. Some establishments are very upmarket, glossy and on the surface do appear to be taking care of their breeding bitches - this can mislead people into thinking they're buying from a responsible breeder. When in fact they're just another place mass producing puppies for profit and to meet a demand, not because they're committed to breeding for health, temperament, breed standard, and will ensure their puppies go to suitable and good homes (not just whoever throws money at them first) and will take back any of the dogs they have bred at any age if the owners can no longer look after it.

I would have a closer look at the breeders' websites. Some of them are incredibly attractive and well-designed, professional photography and plenty of buzzwords that an inexperienced buyer would fall for instantly.

Are the mother dogs listed on the website, and if so, do they have their own profiles with their names, appropriate health tests done? It's common for commercial breeders to list the stud males with names, health testing and cute little paragraphs detailing their personality and characters to make it seem like they're beloved family pets. They're able to do this with the males as they may only have a handful of studs that they use for all of their breeding bitches. It would arouse much more suspicion if all their owned bitches were listed - there would be 20-30+ depending on the scale of production, so many don't list their bitches at all.

See how long their breeding operation has been around for. Some 'home-bred' style operations have only been around for a couple of years, yet have hundreds of people that have bought puppies from them! The maths just doesn't add up, unless they're running a mass breeding facility and treat their dogs like livestock.

fivedogstofeed Sun 03-Nov-19 17:26:28

Very good points @TeacupRex.

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Motorina Sun 03-Nov-19 18:22:33

Crustycrab, when I visited my pup at 6 weeks her mum had swollen milk-filled teats which the puppies were suckling from, and she was grooming, nuzzling and interacting with them. At 8 weeks, she still looked obviously like a nursing mum, the pups were trying it on for an occassional suckle, and she was alternating between annoyed and maternal to them. They were very very clearly family.

Wolfiefan Sun 03-Nov-19 18:23:34

Some breeders will breed from a couple of bitches. Put all pups with one mum so they can breed again in 6 months time from the one that isn’t registered as “mum”.

Shelvesoutofbooks Sun 03-Nov-19 20:33:14

Sorry to ask a daft question, but we are in the market for a corgi - I've always wanted one and we think it would be the perfect dog for us after my cocker spaniel passed a few years ago, but would puppy farmers microchip and register the pups with the kennel club? All corgis I've seen for sale so far have said they are microchipped and kc reg, but not council registered. My former dog was a rescue so really worried about buying from a puppy farmer this time around. I think I am worried because I've seen the same pictures of the same pups for a few months now - so I'm curious if that could indicate puppy farming

Wolfiefan Sun 03-Nov-19 20:37:12

@Shelvesoutofbooks by law pups must be microchipped. KC reg just means a pedigree. It’s not a sign of a good or bad breeder.
Contact the breed club and go from there. Most dogs sold in the U.K. aren’t from reputable breeders and it’s very much buyer beware. sad

AlternativePerspective Sun 03-Nov-19 20:59:12

Any puppy which is advertised on gumtree is unlikely to be ethically bred.

Also, and I know this should be logical but it isn’t because people still do it, any breeder who says they’ll deliver the puppy or that you can collect from a certain location which isn’t their home is almost certainly a puppy farmer.

Motorina Sun 03-Nov-19 21:01:17

It's very much a spectrum. At one end there's reputable breeders producing a litter every two or three years, having carefully selected a sire to improve the breed, where the bitch lives in the family home and will stay there loved for life, and where the pups are brought up with no expense spared. At the other, there are the dogs in filthy barns puppy farms, with traumatised and terrified bitches churning out litter after litter in horrific conditions.

But there's an awful lot of middle. For example, locally, and in no particular order:

1. The crufts-winning breeder who keeps her dogs in large outside runs, producing perhaps a dozen litters a year in search of that elusive winner, and selling off those who don't make the grade. All KC registered.
2. The breeder producing KC registered pups from her own dogs and bitches, not showing and with little thought to improving the breed. The dogs live in the home and appear happy and loved (lots of videos of 'the girls' bouncing on and off the furniture, with no signs of the timidity or shut-down of the stereotypical puppy farm bitch) but they're generating a product, and are 'retired' to new homes once their breeding life is owner.
3. The breeder with one KC bitch who churns out her four litters, one every 18 months, and is then 'retired', replaced by a bitch from the last litter. The breeding bitch is known to have an awful temperament, but is still bred.
4. The pet owner producing a litter (the sire belongs to a friend) so her kids can experience 'the miracle of life'. The pups aren't KC registered and there's no thought to improving the breed, and certainly no health checks, but mum is at least happy and well-loved.

I could name you an example of each of these locally for my breed. I know which I'm more comfortable with, but it really is buyer beware.

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