A puppy farm (also known as a puppy factory or puppy mill) is an intensive dog breeding facility, operating under inadequate conditions. Puppy farming is a major animal welfare issue in Australia because puppy farms fail to meet dogs’ physical and mental needs.
Why are puppy farms a problem?
The main animal welfare problems associated with puppy farms include, but are not limited to:
- Lack of basic essentials – dogs are not given sufficient food, water and shelter, and the special needs of pregnant and lactating mothers, and their puppies, are not met.
- Lack of space – dogs are kept in extreme confinement; some animals are never let out of their cage/enclosure even to go to the toilet.
- Lack of safety – dogs may be exposed to constant fear and stress and have to fight for survival.
- Lack of adequate housing – dogs are kept in overcrowded, uncomfortable and unhygienic conditions.
- Lack of care – dogs do not receive general care (e.g., exercise, grooming), preventative care (e.g. parasite control, vaccination), or veterinary care when they are sick or in pain, or if they have problems during pregnancy or giving birth, and puppies are often separated from their mother too early which disrupts their development.
- Lack of socialisation – dogs are not exposed to a range of experiences to help them prepare for and cope with different situations, interactions, and environments.
- Lack of genetic planning – indiscriminate breeding can result in inbreeding, inherited disorders, deformities, and other genetic abnormalities.
- Lasting trauma – dogs kept and bred in puppy farms can experience a range of long-term behavioural problems and health issues as a result of all of the above.
How big are puppy farms?
RSPCA Inspectors have rescued dogs from puppy farms where hundreds of breeding females have been kept in cages in appalling conditions. Puppy farms are usually large-scale commercial operations, but inadequate conditions may also exist in smaller volume breeding establishments which may or may not be run for profit.
Where are puppy farms operating in Australia?
Puppy farms are operating in secrecy all across Australia, often hidden from public view on semi-rural or remote properties, and even in underground bunkers.
What type of dogs are being bred in puppy farms?
Any type of dog may come from a puppy farm. Puppy farms are increasingly labelling dogs as designer cross-breeds (e.g., Labradoodles, Cavoodles) and pure breeds (e.g., French Bulldogs), to cash in on the popularity of these types of dogs. Note that intensive breeding under inadequate conditions can also involve other species (e.g. cats, birds, small mammals).
Where do puppy farmers sell dogs?
Puppies from puppy farms may be sold via any avenue including online, newspaper ads, markets, car-boot sales, pet shops, or sometimes at the puppy farm itself. Puppy farms may also use an alternative location or ‘shop front’ so you don’t see the appalling conditions where the dogs are kept and bred.
How can we stop puppy farming?
Avoid supporting puppy farms
To avoid supporting puppy farms you should only ever buy a puppy from a reliable source. See the Knowledgebase articles ‘How do I avoid supporting puppy farms?’ and ‘I’m looking for a new companion animal, where should I go?’ for more information.
Support regulation of dog breeding
The RSPCA is strongly opposed to puppy farming. We advocate for regulation of the breeding and sale of dogs. To help stop puppy farming, some states and territories are introducing laws that require mandatory desexing, registration of breeders, and/or mandatory animal welfare standards for dogs, but a lack of effective Australia-wide consistent legislation allows puppy farms to continue to operate.
If you suspect someone is running a puppy farm, notify the RSPCA in your state or territory.