a newborn chihuahua puppy.

We try to keep things positive at All Things Chihuahua, but sometimes it is necessary to talk about a negative thing in order to help owners and their dogs avoid great pain. Puppy mills are a thorn in the side of the dog world, and it’s one that needs to be removed.

So, what exactly is a puppy mill? A puppy mill is essentially a manufacturing plant for puppies. Dogs are kept in huge warehouses, often stacked on top of each other, pooping on each other through wire floors, without ever seeing daylight.

They are not bred for health, they are bred for wealth. The puppies are whisked away to pet stores where the owners assure you they came from a family home, while the parents still churn out more babies.

Thousands of Puppies a Year

There are about 10,000 of these breeding facilities in the USA with about 500,000 breeding animals between them. Together they produce 2.6 million puppies every year. When you realize just how big these breeding facilities are, it suddenly makes sense why there is such a huge overpopulation problem of pets.

On top of these, pet stores are often hugely predatory, selling puppies that are often sick and dying for thousands of dollars. Some of them even go on to offer loans with huge marks ups that push the final cost of the pet into the tens of thousands.

The unlucky people who purchase these pets often find themselves euthanizing their beloved pet shortly after due to their health problems, but still stuck with that loan.

How to Spot a Puppy Mill

While there’s some legislation aimed at ending the predatory practices of puppy mills, they are still a big problem. You can keep yourself safe by looking for these red flags.

  • The Puppy is at a Pet Store

90% of pet store puppies are from puppy mills.

  • The Puppy is Young

Puppy mill owners are eager to cash in. If the puppy is less than 8 weeks old, it is a huge red flag. Loving breeders want the best for their pups, and they don’t want you to deal with the behavioral issues that come from separating puppies too early.

  • Online Sales
    If you saw the condition the puppy was kept in prior to being given to you, you’d call the police. Online sales aren’t a deal breaker in themselves, but it’s easy to hide a puppy mill behind a screen.
  • No In-Home Visits

Again, puppy mills have something to hide. If you can’t visit the puppy in-home and see their living conditions, it’s a huge red flag.

  • No commitments

True breed fanciers care about their breed. If they’re not asking about you, they’re not invested in the care of that puppy.

A good quality breeder wants to know where their puppy is going. If you no longer want the dog, they will rehome it for you. If all a breeder want is the money and off the pup goes, it’s a clear sign that pup is a cash grab. Ethical breeders are in it for the breed.

Adopt or Find an Ethical Breeder

Puppy mills are in it for the money. If there is no money, there is no reason for them to keep selling puppies. The best way to stop puppy mills is to not buy from them. One way to do this is to get your pet from a rescue organization. At the time of this writing, there are 296 chihuahuas and chihuahua mixes in my area alone waiting for homes.

Chances are you can find exactly what you are looking for with a rescue, and for less than the $4,000+ some pet stores are asking for.

If you are seeking a show dog or want specific health guarantees, an ethical breeder is a great choice. Buying from an ethical breeder is a monetary vote for good knees, good hearts, and good eyes.

A healthy dog with parents who have been health tested is a powerful motivator to buy from an ethical breeder, and it is not wrong to do so. Ask to see the parents. Ask to see the home. It’s okay to be nosy in this instance.

Talk to Your Representatives

Finally, even if you don’t plan to get a puppy, talk to your government representatives about puppy mills. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and it’s those squeaky wheels that are causing legislation to start popping up all over the world.

If legislation to stop puppy mills is in your area, write a comment supporting it. It takes just a few seconds, and can make a big difference for thousands of dogs now and in the future.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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