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Pet Shop Puppies

Every pet shop that sells puppies will assure you, solemnly, that their puppies are different. Their puppies don't come from puppy mills, but from fine local breeders. Pillars of the community, in fact.

The reality is that responsible breeders will never place one of their puppies in a pet shop or anywhere else for resale or consignment. Never, ever, ever. Any breeder who has placed their puppy in a pet shop to be sold has immediately disqualified himself as a responsible breeder.


Because, as commercial establishments, pet shops are required to sell a puppy to anyone who can pay. Legally, they are not allowed to "screen" buyers for suitability. Responsible breeders wouldn't be able to sleep at night wondering which of their puppies might have gone to an unsuitable home and was not being properly cared for.


But my pet shop says...

The pet shop industry has manuals and trade journals that teach pet shop owners and employees exactly what to say to persuade you to buy. Their marketing ploys include:

"We buy only from local breeders."

What difference does this make? Whether a breeder is local or lives in Timbuktu, whether he has produced only one litter or many -- if he has placed his puppies in a pet shop, his breeding practices are irresponsible. Geographical location makes no difference at all.

Ask the pet shop for the phone number of one of these local breeders. Call them with the interview questions recommended in my book, Your Purebred Puppy: A Buyer's Guide. They will fail.

"Health guaranteed!"

This "reassuring" platitude is how pet shops and irresponsible breeders seek to get around the expenses of genetic testing.

They offer to replace defective puppies rather than avoiding them in the first place by requiring their "wonderful" breeders to do genetic health tests on any parent dog used for breeding.

Let's look at it from the PUPPY'S point of view. Guarantees don't help a puppy at all. You get your money back, while the puppy still has to live with the genetic health problem that could have been avoided -- if his breeder had been seeking to produce healthy lives rather than seeking to keep his expenses down by avoiding genetic health testing.

We're talking about quality of life here. Don't support any breeder or pet shop who cares so little about the future life of their puppies that they do not require genetic health testing of the parents, in breeds where such health problems are virtually an epidemic.


Not just health problems

Obedience instructors and canine behavioral consultants will be happy to tell you about the temperament and behavior problems that develop in many pet shop puppies as they grow up.

Most pet shop puppies start out playful and friendly, but as they mature, their genes begin to assert themselves. If their parents or grandparents had shy or aggressive or hyperactive temperaments, those genes will show up during adolescence and adulthood.

Many pet shop puppies are nippy. Some were removed from their mother before 7 weeks of age, a critical period of time where she teaches them "bite inhibition." Some have learned to nip from interacting with so many potential owners wandering through the pet shop, including kids who tug and play roughly. Most of these potential owners thought the nipping was cute, didn't correct the puppy for it, and so the habit becomes entrenched.


The major reason not to buy -- supporting the industry

You may wish to "rescue" a pet shop puppy. That's completely understandable. We all feel sorry for them.

But your good intentions will backfire, because you are feeding the industry by rewarding it with money.

You've emptied one cage, yes -- which creates demand for yet another litter to be produced to fill that cage. Even if you're very, very lucky, and your one individual puppy turns out okay, a large percentage of the others will not -- and YOU provided the incentive for them to be born by buying the one who came before them.

So what seems like a simple, isolated purchase actually contributes to:

  • The misery of adult females who spend their lives in a cage, being bred again and again to provide puppies that you and others can buy
  • The misery of these future puppies born with health and temperament problems
  • The misery of future families who buy these puppies and then try to cope with the health and temperament problems
  • The misery of animal rescue groups trying to deal with the flood of pet shop puppies dumped on their doorstep because families gave up on the health and temperament problems


I hope it's clear that when you buy one of those cute puppies in the pet shop window, you buy more than the puppy. You buy the budding physical and behavioral problems created by the bad genes passed on by untested parents whom you never get to see and evaluate.

Worse than that, you buy into a profit-hungry industry that is hurting innocent animals. Simply out of good conscience, a pet shop should not be anyone's choice as a source for a puppy.

Warning: Heartbreaking photo below
The dog pictured below was saved by a rescue organization. It was a breeding dog at a puppy mill and this is why you should tell EVERY person you know not to buy a puppy from a pet store!
Don't be fooled by registration papers.
Age unknown. He spent his
whole life in a Commercial Breeding facility in Lancaster
County, fully licensed by the state of PA. This
breeder was inspected three times in the last year and a half.
No violations. How could a warden walk by this dog three times
and not issue a vet check? He is suffering from malnutrition,
dehydration, ulcers in both eyes (permanent damage), mange,
infections in both ears, and what's left of his teeth will need
to be pulled if and when he is strong enough. He had numerous
parasites and is being treated for a very contagious organism
that's attacking his intestinal tract. The Vet Hospital who is
now treating him says he is one of the sweetest dogs they
have ever met. Can anyone say why this is allowed to
continue? Look at his spine. It will cost thousands of
dollars to get him well and find him a home. I hope and
pray that things will change soon.
In case you don't recognize the breed, it's a maltese terrier.
Wouldn't you prefer to bring a puppy into your life that's been given a great start to life?