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The Troubling Reality of Backyard Dog Breeders

Updated: Jun 6



Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but have you ever thought about where puppies come from?


It’s an important question to ask.


Turns out, Australia has one of the highest pet populations in the world. According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), there are currently about 28.7 million pets living in Australia. Just under half of all people share their home with a dog.


So, where are Australians getting their puppies from?


Ideally, an ethical breeder, such as Puppies Downunder. With 45 years of experience, we are family-owned commercial dog breeders dedicated to the health and well-being of every single dog and puppy in our care.


But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case…But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case…


Since the pandemic pet boom, Australia (like many countries) is facing a huge problem when it comes to irresponsible breeders selling puppies purely for profit through backyard breeding facilities and puppy mills. Of the 450,000 puppies sold in Australia each year, it’s estimated that only 10% come from reputable breeders, leading to a host of animal welfare issues.


This should be cause for alarm for dog lovers everywhere!



The Problem with Backyard Breeders

Hearing how many puppies are purchased annually, it leads many people to wonder: Are backyard breeders really such a big issue?


Sadly, yes.


Those with a dog’s best interests at heart will always do what is right for their puppies. For breeders in Victoria, Australia, this includes being regulated by government bodies and following strict compliance measures. However, backyard breeders (also known as “micro-breeders”) do NOT adhere to the same high standards.


Instead, backyard breeders often rely upon breeding practices that are:

  • Unethical

  • Irresponsible

  • Undereducated

Here are some key issues associated with micro-breeders:



No Experience or Knowledge of Best Breeding Practices

Firstly, backyard breeders lack the necessary knowledge, experience, and expertise in responsible breeding. It takes years – even decades – to have a deep understanding of canine genetics, breed standards, and proper healthcare, not to mention build relationships with veterinarians and fellow breed enthusiasts.


With fewer resources and less time available to supervise whelping mother dogs, there is also a higher chance of complications, such as Mastitis, Eclampsia (Milk Fever), and Dystocia (puppy trapped in birth canal). Yikes!


The outcome?


Needless suffering and pain.


Profit Over Puppies

Secondly, unscrupulous backyard breeders focus on flipping a profit…at the expense of dogs.


In one news article published by Daily Mail Australia, it was discovered that some micro-breeders are selling puppies on Instagram and making as much as $50,000 from a single litter!


Shockingly, female dogs are bred over and over again starting at a young age. If mother dogs experience psychological or physical distress, or puppies are born with special needs, they are typically abandoned or disposed of.


On the other hand, all breeders in Victoria with more than two fertile females must register as a Domestic Animal Business and comply with a Code of Practice. Yet to the dismay of animal advocates, this rule doesn’t apply to breeders with under two fertile females (AKA backyard breeders).




Falls Outside Legislation

Speaking of legislation, when you purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder, rest easy knowing they will come with:

  • Routine vaccinations

  • Deworming and flea treatment

  • A microchip

That’s because in Victoria, Australia, it’s the law!


But micro-breeders fall outside such legislation. Therefore, they aren’t required to:

Provide a 3-year genetic / hereditary guarantee

  • Restrict mothers to 5 litters

  • Obtain a breeding certificate from a veterinary technician prior to breeding

  • Have at least 5 years experience breeding

  • Undertake a Certificate IV in animal companionship.

For these reasons, Puppies Downunder urges soon-to-be pet parents to contact only legislated breeders when searching for their new fur baby.


Inadequate Health and Genetic Screening

Additionally, certain breeds are more prone to health problems and hereditary diseases. To prevent these from being passed on to their progeny, mother and father dogs need to be tested. But this rarely happens in the case of micro-breeders. The result can be illness and/or serious health consequences that worsen the quality of a puppy’s life.


Plus, heartbreak for you.


Poor Living Conditions

Backyard breeders are sometimes reluctant to have interested buyers visit their home.


Why?


Well, because they must operate in the shadows!


You would be surprised by the appalling conditions many puppies live in while waiting for their future homes. Dogs are kept in overcrowded sheds, rooms, and cages. Food and water are unsanitary due to feces and urine that go uncleaned.


When raised unhygienically, infectious diseases can be passed on from animals to humans too, such as zoonosis.




Contribution to Pet Overpopulation

Lastly, did you know?


Animal shelters are bursting at the seams.


Tragically, 264 healthy dogs and cats are euthanized in Australia every day. Unregulated backyard breeding adds to the problem of pet overpopulation and subsequent surrender. Backyard-bred puppies who are not properly cared for end up in shelters and rescue organizations, contributing to the heavy burden that falls upon animal welfare organizations.


On the contrary, regulated breeders have puppy waitlists, usually months or even years long.



Buyer Beware: Recognizing and Avoiding Backyard Dog Breeders

So, how do you identify irresponsible breeders?


Here are 5 red flags to watch for:

  1. No website (only advertising on social media)

  2. Pressure to buy on the spot

  3. Demanding cash payment

  4. Not letting you meet the dog’s parents or littermates

  5. Lack of ongoing breeder support


Take Action! How to Combat Backyard Dog Breeders in Your Community

Ultimately, backyard dog breeders undermine animal welfare and fail to contribute to the betterment of dog breeds as a whole.


So, we encourage you to take action!


Together with our partners, Puppies Downunder has written a letter on behalf of Victorian Government Approved Breeder’s Group Pty Ltd (VGABG) calling attention to the problem of backyard breeders.


To learn more, please visit: www.vgabg.com.au

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