My Smart Puppy

with Dog Expert, Sarah Wilson

How to Spot a Cyber Puppy Mill


The Internet has been a boon to puppy mills. No middle-man needed, they can now sell directly to unsuspecting consumers. Such puppy-pushing websites have common features; be on the lookout for the following (few sites will have all these features but the more they have, the more suspicious you should be):

Pictures of individual puppies posed against “cute” but unnatural backdrops like toy wagons or in baskets. Often females have pink collars and hair ribbons, males blue collars and bandanas.

  • Pups look stiff, close mouthed, whites of eyes showing, and frightened. (This is because they have rarely, if ever, been handled before being posed in this way.)
  • No pictures of the litter playing as a group in the kitchen, romping in the grass, sitting on people’s laps, etc. Nothing remotely natural or looking relaxed such as a pup napping on a human lap as the mother dog, who looks clean, healthy and happy, interacts with her pups.
  • Pups available at all times.
  • No matter what you request – they have one.
  • Two or more breeds bred.
  • No pictures of the parents.
  • No pictures of their kennels.
  • Adult dog names and numbers of adults not mentioned.
  • Endless pages of pictures from “happy customers.”
  • None of the kennel’s dogs are listed at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals which tracks all manner of test results for common (and less common) canine genetic diseases.
  • No health clearances shown or listed – although many testable problems excluded in their lengthy contract, so they are well aware they exist.
  • No AKC or any organizations titles listed of any kind, including the Canine Good Citizenship, basic obedience or any other sport. (These appear at the end of a dog’s name – CD, CGC, TD, etc.)
  • No club membership listed.
  • If purebred, may tout “champion bloodlines” (meaning some ancestor was a champion) but none of their dogs are champions.
  • “Registered” – but rarely AKC or UKC.
  • Large, non-refundable deposit required.
  • Guarantee is only a return to them for a replacement puppy – you pay shipping for both return of pup and replacement pup. That shipping will total more than the puppy you purchased.
  • No refunds offered – ever.
  • Credit cards accepted.
  • No address listed on the site.
  • Rarely is a phone number listed.

Good luck on your hunt for your new companion and we hope you find this information useful.

by Sarah Wilson

Author of handbooks: My Smart Puppy (book with DVD) and Childproofing Your Dog

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