Recognizing the tell-tale Signs of a Puppy Miller

No Parents on Site

Always ensure that you see the puppies nursing with their mother.  A breeder that will not allow you to see the puppies nursing with their mother, or allow you to tour the breeding facility is highly suspect. For example, if puppies are brought into a room for you to view separately, this is a HUGE red flag.

You will NEVER See the parents on site at pet stores.  Avoid pet store puppies at all costs.

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  Let’s Meet

A breeder that wants to complete the sale in a public place (ie. offers to meet you in a parking lot), or offers to deliver a puppy, is usually because they don’t want you see the conditions under which they are breeding/raising the dogs.  If you are not allowed to meet the breeding parents or view the home or business facility – RED FLAG.


  Multiple Breeds Available

Reputable breeders focus on one or two specific breeds.  A breeder who always has multiple breeds of puppies available is a puppy mill.  “Designer dogs” almost always come from puppy mills or backyard breeders, not adhering to any specific breed standard.

Also, be careful of any organization listing themselves as a ‘rescue’.  Check out the reputation of any rescue before proceeding with adopting a puppy from them.  Puppy millers will often disguise themselves as ‘rescues’.



A breeder who does not ask you any questions regarding your suitability for their puppies. They will not insist on a spay/neuter contract.  The person does not ask you any questions other than money and pickup arrangements. Any legitimate breeder should care who his or her puppies end up with and ensure they are going to suitable homes.


  No Veterinarian Details 

A breeder that refuses to divulge the name of their veterinarian.  If a breeder refuses to divulge the name and contact of their veterinarian, this is another HUGE red flag.  IF you do that get that information, check the vet’s reputation and legitimacy.  Ensure that you see the parent dog’s health record to ensure that all necessary vaccinations are up to date.


  No Return Policy

A breeder should care enough about the puppies to have a contract protecting both parties. Reputable breeders always insist on a spay/neuter agreement.  They will provide breed papers, health contract, and a requirement stating that you must return the puppy to them if it doesn’t work out (rather than dumping him at the shelter). A breeder with a “no return” policy is a huge red flag.


  Weaned Too Young 

Be wary of puppies that are offered for sale/delivery before they reach 8 weeks old – this is the minimum age a puppy should be weaned from its mother and litter-mates. If a puppy appears to be too small, it is probably younger than 8 weeks old.



Constant advertising in newspaper classifieds, or the internet (ie. Kijiji).



Ensure you tour the breeding facility and pay attention to cleanliness.  Watch out for offensive odors and stained or discoloured paws when looking at puppies. If there is an overly strong smell of bleach or cleaning product, it is likely masking something else.

Puppy mills harbor many diseases that can affect your puppy’s health.