The cute face of puppy farms

Puppy farms

Puppy farms, also called puppy mills, are breeding establishments that are run for commercial reasons, with little regard for the welfare of the dogs. You can read more about it and watch a video on the Pup Aid website here.

Physical health

Puppies from puppy farms are often weak and sick. You don’t have to search very far on the Internet to find heartbreaking stories of puppies that don’t live long when they go to their new homes because they are so ill. The parents are not cared for properly and the bitches are bred too often. The puppies are often taken away before they are fully weaned.

A reputable breeder will only breed from adults that are physically healthy.

Mental health

The mental health of an animal that is going to be a part of the family is just as important as the animal’s physical health.

Puppies from puppy farms can have issues caused by lack of socialisation. Puppies need to hear household noises and have human contact at an early age. For more information on this, read my posts “What is socialisation?” and “A trip down memory lane“.

A reputable breeder will only breed from adults of sound temperament. They will also ensure that the puppies get off to a good start by giving them human contact and the socialisation experiences that are appropriate for their age.

The cute reflex

Most people know that humans have some physical reflexes – things that happen without engaging their brain. A couple of examples are the leg jerking when the knee is tapped, and eyes closing if something gets too close.

Humans also have emotional responses to some things and don’t stop to think – advertisers have been using emotional responses for years. Most baby animals are cute and there is something I like to call the “cute reflex”. This video will give you an idea what I mean – you won’t be able to watch it without smiling at least once!

The puppy farmer encourages you to act on the “cute reflex” and buy a puppy, in contrast a responsible breeder will encourage you to think about the adult that the cute ball of fluff will become.

The cute face of puppy farms

Puppy farms don’t want you to visit their premises, as you wouldn’t like what you see.

Fewer pet shops sell puppies now – this is a result of public pressure when it was revealed that many of the puppies came from puppy farms. The puppy farms advertise in many different places and use middlemen to sell their puppies.

They are increasingly using social media. They are very good at using the “cute reflex”. They generally have a nice avatar and share pictures of very cute puppies. The “cute reflex” works so well that some people who know about the horrors of puppy farms are not stopping to think – they are talking with them and sharing the pictures of available puppies to their own followers.

Warning signs

If the person is advertising a constant supply of puppies ready to go to new homes, it is probable that these puppies come from puppy farms. Reputable breeders do not have new puppies always available. They only have the number of dogs that they can give a good quality of life and they do not breed them all the time.

If the person is advertising a wide choice of breeds, the pups probably come from puppy farms. Reputable breeders tend to focus on one or two breeds and have a wealth of knowledge about them.

If the person is willing to get a puppy delivered to you without asking you any questions then they don’t care about the puppy. A reputable breeder will ask you questions before parting with one of their pups. They will also be able to answer any questions you have about caring for the puppy. They can also tell you a lot about the breed – temperament, exercise requirements etc.

Where’s Mum?

“Where’s Mum” is the tagline for a campaign by Pup Aid to ban the sale of puppies and kittens without the mother being present. There is more information on that page to help you decide whether the puppy may have come from a puppy farm.

The organisation Pup Aid can also be found on Twitter – @pupaid

Rescue centres

Rescue centres sometimes have puppies. They may have been rescued from bad conditions or they may have been an unexpected litter.

They also have many adult, or adolescent, dogs that need a home. They should be able to tell you about the temperament of the dog and any issues the dog has. Puppies are hard work, a well-adjusted adult will need less training to fit into the family.

Clubs exist for most breeds of dog and these often run a breed specific rescue. The people who run these are usually very experienced with that breed and will be able to advise you on any difficulties you may have.

Worldwide concern

The links I have given you are about the U.K. and the campaign for change there, but the problem is not limited to the U.K.

Not just puppies

I have been concentrating on puppies, but there are similar establishments producing kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs and the smaller pets for sale. They face the same health and socialisation issues.


It is important for more people to be aware that these places exist. The animals kept in them have a miserable life and it is heartbreaking for the people who buy a sick animal.

It worries me when I see people who are known as animal lovers on social media sharing pictures of baby animals for sale that have been put there by businesses that I suspect of being involved in puppy farming. I feel that it makes these businesses appear reputable.

Cuteness fix!

If you’ve read this far, I think you deserve another dose of cuteness to put a smile back on your face!

See you next Wednesday!


A fellow blogger has written a post “When is a rescue not a rescue?”  about some puppy farmers setting up their own “rescues” to get dogs adopted. You can find out some of the things you should watch for in a rescue centre.

116 thoughts on “The cute face of puppy farms

  1. Thank you for this post, Clowie. I abhor puppy farms, and I was also concerned with an old neighbour of mine. She kept allowing her animals to get pregnant, and I am sure it was damaging the health of the mothers.

    • We need more people to be aware of puppy farms. Yes, it is damaging to the health of the mothers to have litters too frequently, and to the puppies. Reputable breeders stick to guidelines for frequency of breeding and age of the mother – these vary for different breeds.

      • She has a King Charles Spaniel, and when she wanted more money, she would breed her dog and sell the puppies at about £500 ($700-$800) each.

  2. Puppy farms are evil: in the UK it is these which the RSPCA should be striving to eradicate. Thank you for drawing attention to this appallingly cruel business. So many people simply have no understanding of the responsibile sourcing of a puppyfrom a reputable breeder. Pip

  3. Sadly we think Mollie came from a puppy mill. I got her from a man who had her in a crate in the back of his car, her brother was in there too. They were sitting on sawdust. I just had to have her, sadly I couldn’t take the two. She was scared of every noise, you could tell she hadn’t lived in a home and she was only seven weeks old. She loves other dogs, her problem is with people, she doesn’t trust them. It takes her ages to come up to friends to say hello. There are not as many puppy mills here as there use to be. Lets hope one day, they will be a thing of the past. It’s terrible for the little pups and it does mess them up. I am just glad I was at the right place at the right time to save Mollie. We had no intention of having a puppy, I just couldn’t leave her in that mans hands,
    Great post Clowie, catch ya next week xxxoxxxx

    Mollie and Alfie

    • It does sound as though Mollie is probably from a puppy mill. It takes so much longer for a puppy to get used to things once they have become afraid. It’s all so much easier if they have these experiences early and they just accept them as a normal part of life.
      Enjoy the rest of your week!

  4. Forrest is a puppy farm puppy 11 years ago we knew no better and got him from a pet shop..the moment I started asking about his mum and dad..doors shut..i found out he was a pup from a bad kennel..and so our interest in animals and puppy farms started..we have spent thousands on trying to get him to be a social dog..combine his beginnings in life to irresponsible owners whose dogs off leash charged him and rolled him (he on lead) as a pup..he loves Doc as Doc was with us and 1 year old at the time we got Forrest. He loves the cats sheep great with people but another dog and he loses it completely ..he has never attacked another dog and at we don’t put him through the stress at his age..we bought our 11 acre property so he could have as much room for sniffs running and adventure with Doc..we will never forgive ourselves for buying into the ‘cute’ factor..we knew no better ..but I am glad we have my smooch boy as another owner may have given up or worse really taken advantage of his reactive behaviour for fighting..great post Clowie and I never fall for cute and I have been very active with government petitions here in our country too . Hugs Fozziemum xxx

    • I don’t think many people did know about puppy farms 11 years ago. Lots of people still don’t know.
      Forrest is very lucky that you had the resources to help him and give him such a nice life.
      I think you should forgive yourselves – you’ve taken good care of him and now you know about these things, you take action and sign petitions.

      • Thankyou Clowie 🙂 we adore our Fozzie bear ..he is such a beautiful boy but i have cried a river of tears for the dog he may have been..only in regards to his meeting dogs other than Doc…he sleeps with the cats..he’s a gentle soul …and he has so much to see sniff and do here..our pets safety is the reason we sold and moved..someone shot and killed one of our cats and this added to Forrest’s issues as i would not leave them outside when we went out..i was terrified..and so we are here 11 acres of space dams to swim in he loves it and we named our home Samovila the Russian fairey protectoress of all woodland creatures…and i will continue to make sure these puppy farmers get put out of business..we have had some big wins already..but more to go…i despise their dirty trade…

        • Your place sounds idyllic and I love the name! You have given Forrest a lovely life in spite of his issues.
          We need to keep doing what we can and telling people about puppy farms – the successes will increase.

          • I agree…i am never short on setting people straight no matter where…i abhor them and it’s all companion animals as you say cats, rabbits, guinea pigs,ferrets,rats,mice,birds…man will use any animal to make money..Opt to Adopt….when our boys leave us we will adopt old dogs that people look past..let them live their lives out in peace and comfort and won’t be easy as we know we won’t have them long most likely, but as we age we think this works well for them also…a puppy we get further down the track could well outlive us so that’s a consideration also.And thankyou..took me a long time to find and research the right name..

          • I’m sure it would be very rewarding to give some older dogs some happiness, but sad each time you have to say goodbye.

          • I know…but they get looked past all the time..breaks my heart..rather have my heart broken and know I had made a doggies life happy…we always have to say goodbye …it’s always hard 😦

  5. Seriously!!! I can’t believe this kind of abuse goes on in today’s educated & civilized society. This is ridiculous. They’re creatures of God same as us. They respond to love, kindness & warmth. Same as us. And what they add to our lives is what we should be giving back to them. At what point did money take precedence over human kindness & love!!! We will be sharing this now, in hopes of educating others on this sinful greed!!! Thank you for the eye-opener.

    • Thank you for taking the time to share and spread awareness.
      Sadly some humans seem to be driven by greed and don’t care about the consequences of their actions.

  6. Well said, Clowie! Mum does what she can to spread the word about these vile places – some of the photos are just heartbreaking… Krissy and I both came from a greyhound re-homing programme; when Krissy came to us last year she was five, and Mum says she would definitely consider adopting an older hound…

    Love from Solo and Krissy xxx

    • Thank you. Yes, I’ve seen some distressing pictures from these places.
      I’m glad you and Krissy have a happy home. The way greyhounds are so often discarded at the end of their racing days is despicable. They generally settle well into family life.

  7. Hi Clowie…….there are so many of these “factories” here in the USA – our Humane Society is working to shut them down as best they can but it’s a neverending battle it seems. My Mom’s sister has two pups she rescued from a puppy mill….they have health issues which is a BIG problem with puppy mill animals due to the horrid conditions in which they are born but they are at least safe and happy. Sadly that’s not the case for the majority of puppy and kitten mill animals……it’s heartbreaking.

    Hugs, sammy

    • Hi Sammy, it does seem to be difficult to get rid of these places. They close one and another springs up. I have also read of baby animals being smuggled across borders from these places to be sold. I have seen some really heartbreaking stories. I hope that more people will become aware of the issue.

  8. We too abhor puppy farms and I came from one and was smuggled into England and sold in a pup. Luckily I was rescued and came to live here at 17 weeks old with no socialisation. These places are horrid and should be closed down. Have a wonderful Wednesday Clowie.
    Best wishes Molly

    • I agree, Molly, these places shouldn’t exist. It must have taken a lot of patience to get you used to normal household things that should have been natural for you.
      Enjoy the rest of your week!

  9. It is amazing that these places still exist, but so many humans have no idea about animals and just go to a store and buy one. It really is sad!

  10. Hi Clowie. Its so great you are bringing awareness to this. It’s such an important topic, but I know a lot of people don’t take it as serious as it should be taken! You did a wonderful job at raising the subject, and great tips and warning signs of how to spot these places. We can hope and do what we can to make sure pet stores keep going the way they are going, so many of them wont sell these pups anymore, i just hope we keep going in the right direction with that!
    That being said…..When I was about to watch that video and you said “betcha can’t watch it without smiling at least once” I was like ok dont smile, dont smile dont smile LOL BUT as soon as the little baby pigs started jumping over other to get their mommy, that was it for me, smiling the rest of the way through haha!
    Great post Clowie and thanks for sharing!
    ((husky hugz))
    Frum da pack at Love is being owned by a Husky

    • Thank you, it is an important topic. I think it’s public opinion that has made the change in pet shops, but people need to be aware of what is still happening.
      Those babies are cute! I love the way the ducklings bob about on the water – I can’t help but smile at them however many times I watch.

  11. Ah Clowie, one of our biggest hates! The main reason behind European legislation to restrict the maximum number of animals allowed to travel without certification to five is to combat puppy farms and their mass movement of puppies. We have seen some heartbreaking things on our travels and in our past lives as RSPCA inspectors. We will not transport any animals bred in this way.

    • The legislation is a good thing, if it does help to stop them moving puppies. I imagine you have seen some awful things. I don’t think most of these puppies get very pleasant travelling conditions, whereas your furry passengers travel in comfort.

    • Wow! I dind’t know you were RSPCA inspectors!

  12. It’s great that you’re spreading awareness of these terrible places, Clowie! So much suffering goes on there, and there’s a real need to spread the message. Thank you! (The videos are lovely!)

  13. Excellent post, Clowie. Very thorough. It makes my heart sick to think there are people out there who treat animals like this. And you’re right, it’s not just dogs. All sorts of domestic and exotic animals are treated this way just for money. 😥

  14. Thank you, Clowie! You know where I stand on this issue. Max came from a purebred rottie puppy mill and was thrown into a kill shelter because he was missing a paw. But first they cropped his tail and tried to sell him. When we rescued him, he was so ill we had to put him in ICU at the vets. It took us close to 8 months to get his PARVO titer to show normal and during all that time he couldn’t do out to socialize, nor could Bella (who we rescued with him), nor could Eli our elder rescue. It was hell on wheels with vet bills, etc. but we adopted him and once at home he was family, through thick or thin. He’s not the only puppy mill horror story we’ve lived with.

    What humans do for $ is frightening, at the cost of suffering to so many animals, and other humans.

    I appreciate your posting this and helping to raise awareness. Very grateful as always.

    Your friends in Ojai

    • Thank you. It is hard to believe how callous some humans can be, not caring who or what they hurt in the process of making money.
      Poor Max, to be treated in that way! It must have taken lots of love and patience when you could begin to socialise him.

  15. We came from a kitten mill. (Mes hates to thinks what my Mommy had to goes through.) Me was sold to have babies to makes money, but the peoples who bought mes did not know what to do with cats and me was badly abused. My behavior was so horrible that when me was eventually dropped off at the pound, me was considered un-adoptable. My Daddy saved me and bringged me home. My behavior was so bad, mes gots the nickname THE CAT FROM HELL. It tooked many years before mes became a half decent cat.
    Dogs who come from puppy mills can have many issues and too many peoples (like the 3 families me was at previous to my forever home) will not deal with it and gets rid of us. If peoples don’t buy from them, they will quit breeding.
    What a great post Clowie! Me salutes yous!!!

    • Thank you, Nellie. You had a horrible start in life, it’s no wonder it took you a long time to settle down when you did get a good home.
      Every time a puppy farm gets closed down another one opens. I agree with you that the best way to get rid of them is for them to lose their market for animals. I think raising awareness is the way that will happen.

  16. Great post Clowie, not enough people know that this goes on and the implications of it on us furballs.

  17. I really do hate puppy mils! Its evil and cruel! People running puppy mills should get serious jail time. Good post on a very sad subject Clowie.

  18. I’m not currently looking to add to our family, but we have always thought that we would look to a rescue group of some kind if we were wanting a furry family member of any kind. Posts like this are important because they serve as a reminder to folks to do their homework and not just focus on the “cute” factor.

  19. We hate those places. In our area we hear now and then that one has been found, closed down and the dogs rescued but the people that do this horrible thing are not punished so they just go to another area and start doing it all over again…breaks our hearts to think of all those little puppies born and abused and neglected the way they are. Thanks for posting this some people have never heard of these horrible place. Hugs and nose kisses

    • It’s terrible that they can be closed down and then go and start all over again. I think that shows that the best way to stop these places is to raise awareness about them.

  20. Terrific post! Here in MO as the State cracks down on the commercial dog breeders, more and more are closing. However, they’re still actually in business… selling on the internet 😦

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