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What is a Backyard Breeder?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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Backyard breeders should be distinguished from the breeder hobbyist, who may occasionally use one of their pets to breed a litter. The hobbyist or amateur may not have a specific license, so the dogs produced by this method do not come with “papers” or certification. The backyard breeder, though not a puppy mill farmer, allows animals he owns to breed on their own, or specifically breeds them. Often, he or she ends up with too many animals to care for, and the standard of care for the animals can drop well below what is required. Typically, a backyard breeder refers to someone who allows animals he/she owns to breed on their own, with little thought as to the placement of such animals, or to their care. If breeding proves profitable, the backyard breeder may progress to becoming a puppy mill farmer.

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Backyard breeders may not start out with bad intentions. But since their dogs aren’t altered, they can end up with far too many animals. Though they may express their love for dogs and decide they can’t part with them, they often don’t have the resources or the space to care for their dogs properly. They also tend to be unable to afford proper medical care for their animals, and with a high number, the animals may be completely unsocialized or under-socialized. Since dogs are often allowed to pick their mates, genetic problems and health issues may be reinforced, especially when dogs with close familial ties mate. Obtaining a dog or puppy from a backyard breeder can mean getting a dog with the worst aspects of its breed and significant medical problems.

From time to time, animal control agencies intervene and remove dogs from a backyard breeder. When they can, animal control officers work with rescue agencies who will take in such dogs and who have the resources to help socialize these animals. If the dogs are taken to shelters, they frequently have to be euthanized since they’re almost “wild” in behavior and may not be considered adoptable, or they have genetic issues or health problems due to lack of proper health care. Backyard breeding, especially when exercised for profit, only is a tremendous pity because it implies the neglect of animals and creates animal overpopulation.

The quickest cure to backyard breeders is first not to obtain dogs from such sources. If a person is not a registered animal breeder, and appears to have many dogs on his/her property, then the dog is a result of this practice. If you want a specific breed, purchase one only from a registered and reputable breeder, or pick a dog from a shelter or animal rescue agency instead.

Secondly, spay and neuter laws can help keep backyard breeders from their work. The backyard breeder will be unsuccessful in his attempt to breed animals if he can’t obtain unaltered dogs or cats. If you must surrender an animal, never list it as “free to a good home,” and make sure you alter the animal first. Backyard breeders often look for these ads in order to obtain dogs they can ignore and allow to breed. Charge a reasonable re-homing fee, check the credentials of any applicants, inspect their property, and/or surrender the animal to a shelter or animal rescue agency.

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