What is a puppy farm?

A puppy farm (also known as a puppy factory or puppy mill) is defined as ‘an intensive dog breeding facility that is operated under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs’.

Puppy farms are usually large-scale commercial operations, but inadequate conditions may also exist in small volume breeding establishments which may or may not be run for profit.  

Puppy farming is a major animal welfare issue in Australia. The main welfare problems associated with puppy farms include but are not limited to:

  • Extreme confinement – in some cases breeding animals may never be allowed out of their cage to exercise, play, socialise, have companionship or even to go to the toilet.
  • Inadequate veterinary care and general care (grooming and parasite control).
  • Unhygienic living conditions.
  • Inadequate and overcrowded housing conditions.
  • Frequent long-term health and/or behavioural problems in breeding dogs and puppies born in puppy farms as a result of the poor conditions they are bred in and a lack of adequate socialisation

Puppies from puppy farms may be sold via any avenue of sale including the internet, newspaper ads, markets, carboot sales, pet shops or sometimes at the puppy farm itself. Puppy farms may also use a house as a ‘shop front’ to sell their animals from, so you don’t get to see the appalling conditions they breed dogs in. We don’t know exactly how many puppy farms there are in Australia, as many puppy farms operate in highly remote areas and are not known to authorities, but with the advent of internet sales it is a growing national problem. RSPCA Inspectors have rescued dogs from puppy farms where hundreds of breeding females have been kept in cages in appalling conditions.

Be aware that any type or breed of dog can come from a puppy farm (purebred dogs, crossbreeds, mixed breeds), so you cannot judge whether a dog has been bred in a puppy farm based on the breed or type of dog. The only way to be sure is to visit the breeding facility and check out the conditions.

Read the RSPCA Online Puppy Buyer’s Guide and also check out the RSPCA Smart Puppy Buyer’s Guide brochure attached below for more information. 

RSPCA Australia is strongly opposed to puppy farming. We advocate regulation of the breeding, supply and sale of companion animals to help set minimum standards and stamp out puppy farms.

Further information on puppy farms and the RSPCA’s recommendations for action to end puppy farming in Australia is provided in the two attached documents below End Puppy Farming- The Way Forward and Legislating to End Puppy Farming – The Way Forward.

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Updated on April 30, 2019
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