Beware of the Backyard Breeder


By: Tracey Zysk – April, 201

It’s puppy season! It’s that time of the year when families decide it is a great time to bring a puppy into their homes.

People constantly ask me, “Do you know a good breeder? “ Or they ask me for names of breeders of specific breeds. After I remind them I am a strong advocate of ADOPTING and that I believe in saving a life of a dog from being euthanized, I then answer their questions with “No I don’t work with any breeders.”

This doesn’t mean that there are not any reputable breeders out there. Most certainly, there are people that comply with all the AKC (American Kennel Club) rules and regulations of how to breed. They also apply for all the proper paperwork needed and certificates provided by the AKC. However, there are even more people out there that we in the industry refer to as “backyard breeders”.

Backyard breeders are exactly that. They don’t necessarily know how to breed; they don’t understand the separation of blood lines and to be quite honest, just want to make money off of their dog. They believe if they mate their dog with another dog of the same breed that they will have a pure breed and can sell those pups for a high dollar amount. Cash revenue off ofthe life of a dog. For example: it was brought to my attention that a young woman in my town wants to breed her Yorkie because she wants her dog to have “babies”. This individual has no background in breeding she is not listed with the AKC. She is going to pick another Yorkie to mate with her 3yr old because she believes her dog should have a litter. Besides the fact I personally think that is a completely selfish reason to mate a dog, I am more concerned about the health of the litter. Will she be able to provide the proper nutritional food for the mother, will she stay up to date with all the vet appointments, when the litter is born will she make sure all the puppies have all the proper shots needed before she sells them? Most importantly, what will she do with the puppy that may be born with a birth defect or is extremely ill? Remember, her goal was for her dog to have “babies”, it wasn’t for her to keep all these dogs, her goal was to sell them and she would keep the mother.

However, there are people for whatever reason will only buy a dog. They will never adopt and only feel comfortable spending top dollar for a dog from a breeder. If this is your choice, I do ask you look for the following when purchasing your dog.

To make sure your breeder is a good quality, reputable breeder please uses the following guidelines:


1. Only breeds very few types of dogs and is knowledgeable on the various breeds he raises.

2. Only pre-sells litters. These breeders will have waiting lists to get puppies because they are known to put the female dogs health first, not the dollar value of the puppies. Reputable breeders will only let a female have one litter a year or possibly one litter every two years.

3. Interviews you and has you complete a questionnaire or application before agreeing to sell you a puppy. This may include questions on your income, people in your home, and size of your home or even if you have other pets. The breeder may even request to do a home visit.

4. Registered as a breeder with the local or national breed registries as well as the Kennel Club for the country.

5. Allows and encourages you as the prospective owner to tour their facilities and see the “parent” adult dogs. Keeps clean, well-ventilated and spacious kennels or living space with happy and healthy adult dogs.

6. Offers litter registration papers as well as all paperwork required for AKC, CKC, KC or other registration.

7. Provides information on the championship lines of the parents as well as vet certificates and genetic condition test results.

8. One of the MOST important guidelines: Provides a health guarantee for the puppy.

Please understand that 1 out of 4 shelter dogs are actually pure breed. My Lani, a Boston terrier is a full pure breed. In fact, she was the mother of many, way too many litters. She was a puppy mill mother. Puppy mill puppies are sold to retail stores or sold to people that only want full breed dogs. My dog was saved from a puppy mill and I adopted her from a rescue. People that will only buy dogs bought my dog’s “babies”. My dog is a shelter rescue. See my point!


Tracey Zysk, owner of Wiggles & Jiggles Pet Care in North Andover MA is a local pet care professional. She has been featured on local radio, tv and newspapers educating the general public on animal care and animal health & wellness. Tracey is a proud supporter of Police, Fire & Military K9 units. Tracey may be reached at Become a fan on facebook at Wiggles & Jiggles Pet Care and follower of