Signs of a Backyard Breeder

Backyard breeding is the irresponsible breeding of dogs by someone underqualified. Backyard breeding is a problem because it’s not necessarily always done out of the desire for profit. There are some good-intentioned people, but ultimately their lack of knowledge on the subject put the dogs in jeopardy. This practice can be the result of pure interest or an accidental pregnancy. The hobby breeder can be included as a backyard breeder if they neglect to care for their pups’ needs. A responsible breeder will breed with intention and know the investment of time and money they will dedicate. They also understand the demand for that breed and will not force breeding unless they know those pups will go to good homes. Backyard breeders can be a substantial contributing factor to overpopulation because they don’t possess the proper knowledge of breeding. 

 It is also important to note that not all novice breeders are backyard breeders. Backyard breeders are those who put the welfare of their dogs in danger. Even if someone is new to breeding, there is a way to go about it responsibly, so be sure to make the distinction. 

The signs of a backyard breeder are similar to the signs of puppy mills. However, backyard breeders are not typically large-scale operations and aren’t only motivated by profit. As with any breeder, you should be asking plenty of questions, and the responses you get will be the indicator of what type of breeder you’re dealing with. 

How to spot a puppy mill

Low Price

A low price is a sales tactic used by backyard breeders to attract customers. A low price may be justified by them for selling subpar work. Healthy puppies come at a cost. You are paying for their health and genetic quality. Lower prices allow backyard breeders to sell their puppies with fewer questions asked. 

No Visits

Backyard breeders will ban visits with the mother and littermates and refuse to show the kennel. Refusing visits serves the purpose of hiding the evidence of poor or improper dog living conditions.  If they are willing to show the premises, it will be evident that the pups are kept in unsanitary conditions and don’t fit the puppies’ needs. 


Healthy breeding practices procedures are vital to have a safe and healthy breeding program and backyard breeders do not invest the time or money to have safe and healthy breeding procedures. Again, this lack of procedure can be due to a lack of knowledge or lack of interest. Regardless, overbreeding is detrimental to both the dam and the pups. In addition to overbreeding, the early release of puppies (before eight weeks) is another huge red flag. It is vital to ask about the dam’s pregnancy history to gain insight into whether or not the breeder is ethical. 

No Referrals

Many responsible breeders will have referrals, while backyard breeders will have very little evidence of their experience. Again, some newer breeders may have fewer referrals solely because they are new. Fewer referrals, in this case, don’t necessarily mean that they aren’t qualified. However, more unknown responsible breeders will be inclined to show evidence that they care for the care and quality of their breeding. Backyard breeders not only won’t have referrals but will also lack any evidence of proper breeding. 

Lack of Paperwork

Backyard breeders will not provide paperwork such as sales contracts, vet visits, health history, pedigree information, or health guarantees. All of these are vital for you and your pup. Some backyard breeders may not provide this due to the lack of knowledge of proper protocol. Others will not provide information because they don’t have it. 

Many backyard breeders will neglect to do the proper health screenings for their pups. Most backyard breeders do not know of ethical breeding and will not have any health history on the dam and sire. This can lead to serious genetic and health problems in the pups. Backyard breeders won’t provide a health guarantee because they cannot do so with this lack of testing. 

No questions or answers

Each breeder should ask questions and be able to provide answers. Backyard breeding comes down to irresponsible breeding. The best way to distinguish the quality of breeding is by asking questions. Most breeders will willingly offer up information on their breeding process or already have it available on their ad or website. This can be in regards to the parent history, vet checks, pedigree information, etc. 

On the other hand, backyard breeders won’t ask you questions. Most breeders will not release their pups to just anyone. They want to make sure any future owner is capable of giving the dog the best life possible. If there is a lack of questions, this can mean that the breeder isn’t invested in their pups’ future and is a huge warning sign. 


Are you worried about backyard breeders? Use Barkd (Apple, Android) to be matched with a perfect pup and responsible breeder!



Breeding Business, “Backyard Breeding- Definition, Laws & Puppy Mills.” 

Paws, “Buyer Beware: The Problem with Puppy Mills and Backyard Breeders.”

RSPCA AU, “What is a backyard breeder?” 

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