Backyard Breeders, Almost Puppy Mills

Backyard Breeders - Almost Puppy Mills
Backyard Breeders – Almost Puppy Mills

Did you know that about two-thirds of the dogs in the United States come from backyard breeders?  Backyard breeding is the single greatest cause of pet overpopulation in the country.

What is a backyard breeder?  It’s someone who keeps a number of dogs mainly used for breeding. Most of us know someone that does this.  Sometimes they claim it was an accident.  But most do it on purpose.  The dogs may be purebreds or the may be the new “designer” dogs, such as Labradoodles, Shi-poos, Schnorkies, etc…  Mixed breeds are what we in the rescue world call them.

Most backyard breeders have little to no understanding or concern about breed standards, genetics, vet care, or even caring for and socializing the dogs.  To them, the dogs, and the puppies they produce are just cash machines.  (A “Hobby Breeder” breeds small numbers of dogs and care well for them)

Backyard breeders are just one step away from puppy mills.  And when they find it easy to sell their product, they tend to expand.  Keeping a few from each litter to turn into more breeding stock.  Backyard breeders often end up as hoarders, with many, many animals in bad shape, that they can no longer care for.

Cleaning out a backyard breeder

Maddie and babies, rescued from a backyard breeder
Maddie and babies, rescued from a backyard breeder

Our current foster girl, Maddie, came from a situation similar to what I’ve described above.  The older lady suddenly found that she couldn’t care for the twelve plus dogs, and her elderly mother.  In Maddie’s case, her owner was responsible enough to find someone to help her.  I was contacted by a CNA that helped care for the elderly mother.  I picked up 8 dogs that day, after having been told there were only 6 dogs in the house total. She had given away at least two the night before, and she kept at least two.  (They didn’t really want to share the information with me.)

Maddie and her last litter were pretty lucky.  We made room for them at our house, despite already having a litter of foster puppies.  The other three adult dogs I picked up from that home went to the No-Kill Shelter I work with.  The younger one got adopted pretty quickly.  And of course, the puppies went as soon as they were old enough. But the two ten-year-old dogs, the former breeding stock that got too old, are still waiting, at the shelter, for their forever homes.  Maddie is still waiting for her’s too.  But she’s doing her waiting at our house.

The point of the story: Do your research before you purchase a dog from any backyard breeders or hobby breeders.  It’s really not much better than buying from a puppy mill.  By purchasing their puppies you’re encouraging them to keep breeding them.

Remember Adopt!  Don’t shop!

Top photo credit: For the love of dog blog


  1. Emily Burkholder says:

    Were are you located does Maddie still need a home?

    1. MamaMinion says:

      We are in north western Pennsylvania. Miss Maddie found her forever home in the fall of 2017 with a wonderful retired couple and their 3 year old yorkie mix girl. She is well spoiled now. We currently have Chihuahuas, 3 females, looking for their forever homes.

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