Did you know that a recent survey conducted by the Kennel Club has estimated that up to 25% of puppies that come on the market in this country come from puppy farms? The unsuspecting buyer will probably never know this, as the owners of these factories are careful never to let prospective buyers come to their premises. They may arrange to meet in a neutral place, they may advertise on the internet and deliver the puppy to its new home, they may even use someone’s home temporarily and pretend the pup was born there. ‘So what?’ you may say. ‘At least I will have saved the life of one innocent dog’. The problems with that approach are sadly, many.
By buying puppies from these illegal institutions we are encouraging them to continue. The conditions under which the dogs are kept are frequently dreadful. Brood bitches are kept in whelp until their poor bodies can’t cope anymore and then they are not infrequently killed. Any puppies which don’t find a home within the right timescale also have to go, and some of the methods used don’t bear thinking about.
Puppies from puppy farms have been reared in unnatural conditions and have not had the opportunity to develop social skills. They are usually not socialised, either to other dogs or to human beings. As they grow up, problems of fearfulness, anxiety and aggression become more and more prevalent. Sensitive behaviour modification can help with many of these problems but a dog deprived of a normal upbringing will never be as secure, happy and safe as a properly socialised animal.
Living in cramped unsanitary conditions means that many of the puppies fall ill or have other physical problems, meaning expensive veterinary bills and distress for both puppy and owner. These puppies are much more likely than well bred puppies to fall sick again as they grow older which can be even more harrowing once the pup has become a beloved family member.
Some well meaning people believe that cross breed dogs are automatically healthy as the cross breeding eliminates genetic problems. This is not always the case and some of the popular new ‘breeds’ like labradoodles and cockerpoos suffer many of the same problems as their more specialised forebears.
Buying a puppy farm puppy usually appears less expensive than buying a well-bred pup from a recognised breeder, or a healthy mongrel from a loving home, but consider the actual long-term cost. Behaviour problems, health issues and emotional upset can all add up to a steep bill at the end of your dog’s life.
Beware of the large- scale breeder who professes to have only a few dogs and actually farms many bitches out to families to live, only to demand them back for mating and whelping. These operations can be on a significant scale and the pups are often deprived of good social interaction with the world as they grow up, with mums stressed by being away from home.
So, if you are looking for a puppy, always ask to see where it was born and brought up. Demand to see the pup’s mother and get as much information as possible about its father. Ask to see a health certificate which proves that the puppies have been examined by a qualified vet.
Sadly most of these criteria can be forged or fabricated so the best way to be sure you are not supporting this dreadful practice is to buy your puppy through a rescue centre or from an Kennel Club Assured breeder, whose practices must conform to reasonable standards. Better still, acquire your pup from someone who has bred the litter in their home, where the growing puppies can enjoy a broad spectrum of life experiences before leaving to live with it’s ultimate owners.
Make sure that the pup you take home is the right kind of dog for your lifestyle. Rescue centres are increasingly packed with dogs whose well meaning owners didn’t realise the commitment and time involved in their care. A couple of spells in prison are enough to make any balanced dog behave badly and hence earn the reputation of being unplaceable. I have read for example, that although fewer Spitz type dogs are being bred recently than in the past, more and more are appearing in shelters or being returned to breeders. These dogs are very beautiful but they need a firm hand and an enormous amount of exercise. Do your research so that you can offer the right dog a loving home in your household. There are so many out there to choose from so make