Puppy Mill vs Breeder Featured Image

So now you've finally found the perfect dog breed that you want. However, the job's not finished!

Now, you'll need to research breeders thoroughly. Puppy mill vs. breeders, what exactly are the differences?

Since you've finally decided on the dog breed, the next step is to determine which type of breeder to work with.

“Why should I buy from breeders when buying dogs in puppy mills is cheaper?”

For starters, puppy mills are places where dogs are deprived of space, social interaction, and proper health care.

These establishments are the kinds of places you wouldn't want to support.

They are basically just breeding dogs for their own profit.

This blog can be your ultimate guide to choosing the right breeder. But if I'm being honest, the right way is to find a reputable breeder.

California Set to Ban Puppy Mill Sales to Encourage Dog Adoption

What is a Puppy Mill?

Commercial breeding operations known as puppy mills mass-produce puppies for sale through pet shops or directly to consumers through classified advertisements online.

A large percentage of puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills.

Puppy mills are breeders whose main concern is to breed dogs for their own profit or gain. Some puppy mills don't even have experience in dog breeding.

But they'll do it anyway to boost their earnings.

How Do Puppy Mills Work?

Puppy mills generally work through four stages to get the puppy out of the farm or breeding facilities to a new owner.

Generally, these dogs are in stacked wire crates.

Puppies are separated from their mothers once they start to eat solid food, which is about five to six weeks old. But that's never good!

Experts say puppies should stay with their litter until they are around eight to twelve weeks old.

1. Puppy Brokers

First, puppies from the farm are sold to a broker. It can be their regular partner or someone they found in an auction.

Puppy brokers are middlemen between the puppy mill and the pet store, so pet stores have the right mixture of dog breeds.

In this day and age, puppy brokers now work through the internet, defining themselves as “puppy finders” that will help match an owner to a puppy.

Of course, many people will fall into this since they are just looking for a cute puppy.

That's why when it comes to adopting new pets, it's best advised to thoroughly do your research not just about the dog breed but also about breeders.

2. Puppy Transporters

As the name suggests, puppy transporters are responsible for physically bringing the puppies to pet stores or to people who bought them.

They have plenty of time to continuously travel to deliver these puppies since they only need to give them food and water every 12 hours.

3. Auctions

Thirdly, puppies from puppy mills can also be sold at auctions. Some forums allow dog breeders and brokers to meet and do business.

Unfortunately, you can also find rescues at these events where they adopt them out for a higher price.

4. Pet Stores

And lastly, the final stop is the pet stores or the person that bought them.

Pet stores would never admit to buying dogs who have gone through horrific care. They'll use USDA regulations and accreditations to work their way around it.

Fortunately, some states are now starting to mandate that pet stores can only sell rescue dogs.

For instance, some local PetCo can only sell dogs and cats from local rescue organizations.

Puppy Mill Cages

Why Are Puppy Mills Bad?

Experts believe that puppy mills are organizations that operate mainly to make money. They aim to produce as many puppies as possible to sell to pet stores or online.

Puppy mills don't care if they are producing healthy dogs. Usually, they will often reproduce sick dogs.

Remember that plenty of dogs are prone to genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia or eye problems like cataracts.

Puppies are even given little to no medical attention once they are born. They do not even bother socializing these pups; they leave them in a cage until pet stores buy them.

Generally, dogs that puppy mills produce are not given proper care, love, or attention.

Are Puppy Mills Illegal?

Even though puppy mills are unethical, they are NOT illegal. Well, not all of them.

“I thought that there were laws that help and protect animals?”

Yes, but the system is complicated, and many loopholes exist in breeding animals. For instance, it's legal as long as the animals are given food, water, and shelter.

Plenty of puppy mills have a USDA license which mandates minimum care requirements and allows them to sell animals to pet shops.

Numerous puppy mills are licensed by the USDA, which sets minimum standards for care and permits them to sell puppies to pet stores.

Puppy mills' breeding kennels are sometimes allowed to keep hundreds of puppies in small cages. These puppies can even spend their entire life cooped up in these kennels.

reputable dog breeder

Puppy Mill vs Breeder

A puppy mill is not the same as a reputable breeder.

If you're trying to adopt your first pup, it can be hard to spot their differences.

Puppy mills are commercial breeders prioritizing profits over the dogs' health and well-being. They typically keep them in unsanitary environments.

But on the other hand, responsible breeders work side-by-side with vets to ensure the dogs are safe and healthy.

A great breeder will put the dogs' well-being first. They have their dogs checked up for specific health problems.

They are honest and can provide you with the dog's medical history.

A reputable breeder will not breed dogs with health issues or behavioral problems, specifically if the problem is potentially hereditary.

Puppy MillResponsible Breeder
Purpose of BreedingHigh ProfitBetterment of the Breed
Breeding EnvironmentUsually in an unsanitary warehouse, cages, cold buildings. Typically in the breeder's home where it's clean, warm, and plenty of space
Puppy AvailabilityImmediatelyWaiting lists (Depends on the breeder)
Health Care Legal minimum required or none at allPuppies are regularly checked by a vet and are given the required early vaccines
Care and TrainingNonePuppies are socialized with their siblings, other humans, and different experiences. They are also given regular grooming
Puppy Pick Up LocationParkling lots or Pet storesBreeder's home or shipped (depending on the agreements)
Communication before saleOnly cares about the price and pick up informationAlways available, can meet you in person to see if you're suitable for the breed
Communication after saleNoneRegularly checks up on you and the dog to ensure things are okay

How To Spot a Puppy Mill

If you're unsure if you're dealing with a responsible breeder or a puppy mill, here are a few tips to help you.


Ask whether you can or can not visit the home of the person selling the animal. Puppy mills usually say no.

You can also ask to meet the dog's parents, siblings, or other relatives of the puppy.

Responsible breeders might not have the father of the puppy on-site, but they can provide you with information and connect you to the owner.


Puppy mills can acquire kennel licenses. It is given out by the local government, which gives them the power to own more dogs than what's typically allowed in the area.

If you're dealing with reputable breeders, they are registered with an outside organization. Registration in these institutions is voluntary and can be quite costly.

That proves the breeder will go to extreme lengths to ensure they ethically breed healthy dogs.


Ask for the puppies' health certificates. A responsible breeder can prove that the animals have received proper veterinary care.

For instance, a puppy should get their first round of recommended vaccines at 6 to 12 weeks old.

On the other hand, dogs in puppy mills most likely haven't even seen a vet.


Trusted breeders know about the dog's breed even before producing them.

You'll be able to ask them about their personality, energy levels, life expectancy, common health problems of the breed, and average height and weight.

Proper Care

Ask about the level of care the dogs are getting. Puppies should be given high-quality food and regular grooming.

If you notice that the dog appears depressed, this can be a sign of neglect.


Lastly, a responsible breeder can provide you with a list of references of owners they've sold dogs to in the past.

They can also provide references on the vets for the dog's checkups.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Puppy From a Puppy Breeder?

The cost of a puppy from a breeder varies on the breeder's reputation.

If you want to adopt a puppy from a popular, award-winning breeder, it will cost you more.

On the other hand, puppy mills will try to lure you with their lower prices.

If you're adopting from a puppy mill, think again! Don't expect that you'll receive a healthy puppy from a puppy mill (despite the modest price).

reputable dog breeder

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Avoid Puppy Mills?

Thorough research and education is your best friend when determining whether or not you're dealing with puppy mills.

Trust your gut! Don't buy puppies from pet stores or shady people you talk to online.

Is It Okay to Work With Puppy Mills?

No. There is never a time that it'll be okay to work with puppies. Why? Well, it only continues the cycle.

Find a reputable breeder if you're trying to adopt a new puppy.

How Much Does a Puppy From a Breeder Cost?

Puppies from a responsible breeder will be more costly. But trust me—it's worth it! On average, adopting a puppy will cost you $500 to $3000.

It can vary on the dog's breed. If you've chosen an in-demand breed, it'll definitely cost you more.

reputable dog breeders

Puppy Mill vs Breeder: Summary

A puppy mill vs breeder will not be a fair fight since there are no true pros when adopting in a puppy mill.

A puppy mill is a commercial dog breeding operation that prioritizes profit over the dogs' well-being.

They often keep dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Proper health screenings and genetic tests neglect these dogs.

They prioritize quantity over quality and may produce puppies with potential health and behavioral issues.

Supporting puppy mills contributes to animal welfare issues, increases health risks for the puppies, and perpetuates inhumane breeding practices.

On the other hand, a responsible breeder is an individual or small-scale operation that breeds dogs with a focus on the breed's health, temperament, and overall quality.

They prioritize the well-being of their dogs and stick to ethical breeding practices.

Responsible breeders work on health screenings, genetic testing, and proper socialization of their puppies.

They provide their dogs with appropriate care, nutrition, and veterinary care.

If you want to bring home a new puppy soon, research well. Ask your vets about possible reputable breeders in the area.


Toby loves spending time with his dog and two cats. They are the best stress reliever and affectionate pets, especially his Belgian Malinois, Shawie. Shawie's favorite activity is running or jogging. But their go-to spot is to chill and swim around a nearby river.