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How to Spot a Backyard Breeder (11 Red Flags to Look For)


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Are you thinking about adding a new furry friend to your family? If so, be careful not to fall for the tricks of backyard breeders. These unscrupulous individuals often prey on unsuspecting pet seekers, promising high-quality purebred puppies at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay from a professional breeder. Backyard breeders are often characterized by numerous red flags, such as overly aggressive canine dog training techniques and excessive emphasis on appearance and physical traits over the quality of life. Other telltale signs include:

They Lack Expert Insights About the Breed

A backyard breeder may claim to know everything there is to know about their chosen breed, but if they lack in-depth insights and expertise, that should be viewed as a major red flag. Experts in the field – such as experienced breeders or veterinary professionals – will know various health conditions and temperamental traits that are specific to each dog breed. If a potential breeder seems overly general or vague when talking about these issues, you should be wary of their motives and credibility.

They Don’t Ask You Any Questions

A responsible breeder will want to get to know you and your family to make sure that you are a good fit for their puppy. They should ask you questions about your lifestyle, your experience with dogs, and whether or not you have a yard for the puppy to play in. If the breeder does not ask you any questions, they are likely more interested in making a quick sale than in finding a good home for their puppy.

They Don’t Show You the Parents

 A responsible breeder will be more than happy to show you the puppy’s parents and let you meet them in person. This is important because it allows you to see what the puppy will be like when they are fully grown. It also allows you to assess the health and temperament of the parents, which can give you some insight into what to expect from the puppy. If the breeder refuses to let you meet the parents or seems cagey about letting you see them, that is a major red flag.

Lack of Accountability and Transparency

Reputable breeders will have nothing to hide, so they should be happy to answer all of your questions about their business. If the breeder is evasive or refuses to answer your questions, that is a major red flag. You should also be wary of breeders who are unwilling to provide you with references or contact information for past clients. A lack of accountability and transparency is often an indication that the breeder is not running a legitimate operation.

They Breed Multiple Types of Dogs

Backyard breeders tend to be in it solely for the money and often try to appeal to as many customers as possible by breeding multiple dogs. This could include popular breeds, rare breeds or mixes of different breeds. Many irresponsible breeders churn out puppies without regard for the health or temperament of the parents or offspring, resulting in low-quality animals that carry genetic defects and behavioral problems.

An Overabundance of Puppies

A responsible breeder will only have a few litters of puppies at a time, as they take care to carefully select the parents and match them up based on their temperaments and health histories. This helps to ensure that each litter of puppies is healthy and well-adjusted. In contrast, backyard breeders often have an overabundance of puppies, as they are not as selective about the breeding process. This can lead to health and behavior problems in the puppies, overcrowding, and unsanitary living conditions.

They Pressure You Into Making A Purchase

A reputable breeder will never pressure you into buying a dog, as they have complete confidence in the quality of their breeding program. Backyard breeders, on the other hand, are often more sales-focused. They may try to coax you with cheap prices, aggressive sales tactics, or pressure you to make a quick decision. If a breeder seems overly pushy or insistent, it’s best to walk away and look for one who is more committed to helping you find the right match for your family.

They Sell Their Puppies at an Early Age

A reputable breeder will wait until their puppies are at least 8 weeks old before selling them to new homes. This is to make sure that the puppies are physically and emotionally ready to leave their mothers and start life in a new home. If a breeder sells their puppies at an early age, it’s a red flag that they are more interested in making money than finding good homes for their animals.

They Don’t Require a Spay/Neuter Contract

A responsible breeder will always require that you sign a spay/neuter contract, which stipulates that you will have your dog spayed or neutered when they reach the appropriate age. This is important because it helps to prevent unwanted litter of puppies, which often end up in shelters or backyard breeders. If a breeder does not require a spay/neuter contract, it’s a red flag that they are not concerned about responsible pet ownership.

They Sell Their Puppies Online or Through Pet Stores

If the breeder sells their puppies online or through pet stores, that’s another major red flag that they may be operating unethically. Reputable breeders typically sell their puppies directly to families after meeting them in person and ensuring that they will provide a good home for the dog. Selling puppies online or through pet stores makes it easier for backyard breeders to remain anonymous and sell their dogs without having to worry about being held accountable for their actions.

They Use Inhumane Breeding Practices

Backyard breeders often use inhumane breeding practices, such as keeping dogs in small cages or cramped quarters with little socialization or exercise. This can lead to health and behavioral problems in the puppies and mental and emotional distress for the parents. If you visit a breeder’s facility and see animals living in these conditions, it’s clear that they are not operating ethically.

It can be hard to spot a backyard breeder at first, but if you know what red flags to look for, it will be easier. Remember, always do your research before buying a puppy, and make sure you are getting your dog from a reputable source. If you have any doubts, there are always animal shelters and rescue organizations that would love to help you find your perfect furry friend. Visit for more information.

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