What is a backyard breeder?

A backyard breeder is a person who thinks that having a dog of each sex registered
with AKC means litters of cute puppies and oodles of money. It generally means having
no concept of genetics or even doing the basic genetic testing to tell whether their
dogs will be passing along crippling or even lethal defects to the adorable puppies they
want you to buy. This is the risk you are taking when you pick up the classifieds and look
at all the AKC puppy ads.

You can tell a backyard breeder from a reputable one by asking questions. A reputable
breeder also sells dogs from his or her home so you can't tell just by looking. If you ask
to see a pedigree or proof of health clearances, a good breeder will show you, because
they checked their dog's backgrounds before breeding. A backyard breeder will say, "it's
an AKC, ASCA, or whatever reg. they use dog with champion lines" and not have
anything to show you. A good breeder will want to know what kind of home you will
provide for your dog and ask you questions, the BYB will be already counting the money
you brought. Especially in Australian Shepherds, do
not buy a dog without seeing the parent's OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals)
certificate and CERF (Eye Exam). This means they had their hips X-rayed and were
found to be free of hip dysplasia and their eyes checked yearly by a qualified
ophthalmologist. HD is a progressive degenerative disease that is painful and crippling
with age. It is a growing danger for most large popular breeds because of indiscriminate

A good breeder also knows about their dog's relatives to know whether there have
been problems with dysplasia, eye defects, epilepsy, and other genetic defects in them
or their offspring. A careless breeder will look astounded you asked and either say they
have no idea or cook up a lie real fast such as "He sees real good so no need to check
those eyes!" or "he can jump a 4 foot fence flat footed so his hips are good!" Don't
believe it, ask for proof of health checks!

Pet shop puppies

Are the very worst option of all. Pet shop puppies come from puppy mills. Dogs with no
genetic checking at all, bred on an industrial scale and usually neglected to the point of
being barely alive, their puppies are wholesaled out in boxes to pet stores for about 20%
of what you will be charged. Puppy mills are regularly closed down when health or animal
welfare authorities investigate and sometimes the horror stories even get in the
media.Puppy mills and their clients exist to make money. Problem is, they are treating
dogs as a commodity. Refuse to do business with any store that sells puppies and tell
them why. If stores find doing business with the mills more aggravation than profit,
they'll stop, otherwise they never will.

The most important thing you can do to help stop dog overpopulation is to always spay
or neuter your pet.


1. Just one litter and we'll have fluffy spayed.
(Studies show that virtually the entire pet overpopulation stems from the "just one
litter" mentality)

2. My dog doesn't run loose so he doesn't need to be fixed.
(Murphy's law says otherwise)

3. We always find homes for the puppies.
(And that means an equal number of puppies at the pound will be killed)

4. I want the children to witness the miracle of birth.
(Then watch Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel)

5. My dog is so wonderful and unique, there should be more of her.
(The shelters are full of wonderful and unique dogs, most of whom have a few days to

6. It's not natural.
(There hasn't been anything "natural" about dogs since we domesticated them
thousands over years ago and took control of their training & reproduction)

7. I just couldn't look my dog in the eye if I had him castrated.
(Watch it, you're anthromorphising)

8. A female dog should have at least one litter for medical reasons.
(Medically, factually and ethically indefensible)

9. Neutering my dog will make him fat & lazy.
(Too much food and too little exercise make a dog fat & lazy)

10. Fixing my pet will change its personality.
(see #8)