How to tell a reputable pet breeder from a backyard breeder

I often have people ask me how to tell the difference between a “reputable” pet breeder from a backyard or “mill” breeder. First off let me define the “mill” breeder. Mill breeders not only breed dogs and cats in large amounts but also horses, rabbits, hamsters, mice, snakes, birds and any other pet you can think of. Their sole goal is to make money fast. They breed their animals young and often. The “backyard” breeder is a “mill” breeder want to be. They want to make a few thousand dollars in a short amount of time and figure that their pet will produce that money by producing offspring they can sell. They usually don’t have more than a few animals but they are breeding substandard animals, often unregistered pets. Both of them could produce registered animals so registration is often not a gauge of “quality” or being reputable. Don’t confuse the word “backyard” as the area the animals are kept with the backyard breeder. Some people’s backyard are full blown estates so when I am talking about the backyard breeder I am not referring to the actual backyard.

A reputable breeder will always have a waiting list for their animals. They are usually sold before they are even born. A reputable breeder never has to resort to listing an animal for sale in the classifieds. Backyard breeders usually always have to advertise their animals and often take them to the front of a local store to sell them if they can’t unload them else where. I bought a female Chow Chow from a backyard breeder who was selling their puppies off the back of a pick-up truck bed. When I got the female I had her spayed. She had produced 6 litters in 4 years and she was only 5 years old. The recommended number of litters a dog can produce in her lifetime is 3 according to the AKC. Horse breeders are no better. If their horses do not sell they can then sell them to a dealer that will ship them out of the country for slaughter. Incidentally they are now crying for the return of legal slaughter houses in the USA for horses.

A reputable breeder will not let an animal got to a new home until they are weaned, socialized and often basic training is done. It is not uncommon for a puppy to be housebroken or a horse to have basic ground work done. A reputable horse breeder will not sell a stallion or colt to a home that has never handled an intact male horse. With a reputable breeder, shots and wormings have already been done. They will also have a buy back clause in the purchase contract. Backyard breeders and mills have NO purchase contracts at all.

Reputable breeders will often take payments but the animal will stay with them until they are paid for in full. Backyard and mill breeders only want cash in hand and right now at that.

A reputable breeder has facilities for the animals such as a barn or kennels. The backyard breeder just has the family pet and the puppies or kittens are just born in a closet or back room of the house. The mill breeder has the animals in small cages or playpens in the house. If the mill breeder is breeding horses they often have large pastures that the mares, foals and breeding stallions are all in together with not thought of fences to seprate the sexes or ages. They also have run down properties and poor wire fences. Their animals have scars from cuts caused by fences or garbage on the property.

A mill breeder will often not want you to visit their property to look at the animals. They will want to meet you somewhere with an animal or 2. Backyard breeders have no shame, they think that their home and pets are perfect and price them high to prove to the world they are worth it. Backyard and mill breeders will not show or have working animals to gain awards or points, they claim not to believe in that sort of thing. Reputable breeders have show or performance animals because they know that the only way to improve the breed is to show or work them. Animals that don’t make the cut in the show or performance world are not bred.

Hopefully that gives you something to start with when you are looking for a reputable animal breeder.


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