Types of Breeders
It's deceptively easy to say that John Jones or Mary Smith runs a puppy mill or that pet store puppies come from puppy mills, but the label is tossed about so frequently and with so little regard for accuracy that each prospective dog owner should ascertain for himself whether or not he wishes to buy a dog from John Jones, Mary Smith, a pet store, or a hobby breeder. Here are our Dog Owner's Guide definitions to help you decide:
Hobby breeder: A breed fancier who has a breed or two (or even three); follows a breeding plan to preserve and protect each breed; produces a limited number of litters each year; breeds only when a litter will enhance the breed and the breeding program; raises the puppies with plenty of environmental stimulation and human contact; has a contract that protects breeder, puppy, and buyer; raises dog in the house or runs a small, clean kennel; screens breeding stock to eliminate hereditary defects; works with a breed club or kennel club to promote and protect the breed; and cares that each and every puppy is placed in the best home possible.
Commercial breeder: One who usually has several breeds of dogs with profit as the primary motive for existence. Commercial breeders that are inspected by USDA, state agencies, or the American Kennel Club should have adequate conditions. Commercial breeders that sell directly to the public fall through the regulatory cracks unless they do business in a state that licenses commercial kennels. Dogs in these kennels may be healthy or not and their conditions may be acceptable or not. The dogs are probably not screened for genetic diseases, and the breeding stock may or may not be selected for resemblance to the breed standard or for good temperament.
Broker: One who buys puppies from commercial kennels and sells to retail outlets or other kennels. Brokers ship puppies on airlines or by truckload throughout the country. Brokers must be licensed by USDA and must abide by the shipping regulations in the Animal Welfare Act.
One who collects dogs of unknown origin for sale to laboratories or
other bunchers or brokers. Bunchers are considered lower on the
evolutionary scale than puppy mill operators, for there is much
suspicion that they buy stolen pets, collect pets advertised as "Free to
a good home," and adopt unwanted pets from animal shelters for sale to
research laboratories. USDA licenses and inspects bunchers to make sure
that they abide by the AWA.
Amateur breeder: A dog owner whose pet either gets bred by accident or who breeds on purpose for a variety of reasons. This breeder may be ignorant of the breed standard, genetics, behavior, and good health practices. An amateur breeder can very easily become a hobby breeder or a commercial breeder, depending on his level of interest or need for income.
A real puppy mill: A breeder who produces puppies with no breeding program, little attention to puppy placement, and poor health and socialization practices. Conditions in puppy mills are generally substandard and may be deplorable, and puppies and adult dogs may be malnourished, sickly, and of poor temperament.