Backyard breeding is the irresponsible breeding of domestic pets such as dogs and cats. Backyard breeding is bad because breeders are not educated in the proper breeding or care of animals and prioritise profit over the health of animals. Backyard-bred animals often endure poor quality of life before and after they are sold. If you encounter a backyard breeder you should report them to your local authority or animal shelter.
The rest of this article will take a closer look at the practice and consequences of backyard breeding and what you should do if you come across a backyard breeder.
Table of Contents
- What is backyard breeding?
- Why is backyard breeding bad?
- What animals are affected by backyard breeding?
- What happens to animals that are sold by backyard breeders?
- What is the overpopulation crisis and how does backyard breeding contribute?
- Is backyard breeding illegal?
- What is the difference between backyard breeding and puppy mills?
- What happens to animals at puppy mills?
- What are the signs of a backyard breeder?
- What are the signs of a responsible breeder?
- What should I do if I come across a backyard breeder?
- What can I do to stop backyard breeding from continuing?
- What is the most ethical way to get a pet?
What is backyard breeding?
Backyard breeding is the practice of breeding animals irresponsibly. It is often unsafe for the animals and their offspring.
Backyard breeding can occur by accident because an owner has not had their pet desexed, or intentionally, when owners breed their pets for profit without meeting the same standards as legitimate breeders.
Why is backyard breeding bad?
Backyard breeding endangers the health and safety of animals that are being bred. Backyard breeders are often uneducated about the proper care required by pregnant animals or animals who have just given birth and the needs of their young.
Animals are also at risk of overbreeding, meaning they are bred more often than is safe, putting mothers and pups at risk of serious health problems.
What animals are affected by backyard breeding?
The animals most commonly affected by backyard breeding are household pets like dogs and cats. Backyard breeding can also be an issue for horses and ponies.
This article mostly addresses the backyard breeding of dogs, which is the most common occurrence.
What happens to animals that are sold by backyard breeders?
Puppies and other animals purchased from backyard breeders are often in for a difficult life. Because of irresponsible breeding they can suffer health conditions and defects as they grow, resulting in expensive veterinary bills for owners and sometimes even euthanasia for the animals.
Backyard-bred puppies are often sold online or end up in pet shops.
What is the overpopulation crisis and how does backyard breeding contribute?
Overpopulation of domestic animals refers to pets that are abandoned because there is not enough demand for them. Backyard breeding contributes directly to this issue as breeders often breed animals without first ensuring there is enough demand.
Peta reports that over 6 million animals end up homeless every year and a portion of these will end up being euthanized. Backyard-bred dogs also take homes away from rescue dogs waiting for adoption.
Is backyard breeding illegal?
Laws and regulations around backyard breeding vary from country to country. In the US there are currently no laws restricting the number of dogs a breeder can breed.
Backyard breeding is not illegal in Australia either, however preventative measures are beginning to be implemented. According to RSPCA Australia, many states are beginning to introduce laws mandating that pets be desexed when purchased to curb the practice of backyard breeding.
What is the difference between backyard breeding and puppy mills?
Backyard breeding occurs at a small scale. The industrialised operations of puppy mills, also known as puppy farms, operate at a much larger scale.
Despite what the name suggests, dogs are not the only animals that are bred in puppy mills. The large-scale breeding of kittens also occurs at locations that are known as puppy mills or farms.
What happens to animals at puppy mills?
Before they are sold, animals are housed in confined spaces and experience overcrowded and unhygienic living conditions, unnourishing food and often little water, limited or no exercise, and a lack of veterinary care and grooming. Like backyard breeding, animals sold by puppy mills are often sold in pet shops, though this is changing in countries like Australia.
What are the signs of a backyard breeder?
The following red flags are indications that you have come into contact with a backyard breeder.
- Puppies are available for adoption at younger than six weeks old. Responsible breeders will not sell puppies before they are at least eight weeks old.
- The breeder does not agree to let you tour their breeding facility or meet the puppy’s parents.
- A breeder should be able to tell you how to care for your new pet. If they are unable to provide detailed, relevant advice, this is a cause for concern.
- The breeder does not supply you with a contract of sale when you purchase an animal from them.
What are the signs of a responsible breeder?
To rule out any possibility that a breeder you are interested in purchasing from is engaged in backyard breeding you should make sure that:
- They test the parent dogs for defects or genetic conditions before they are bred
- They do not sell their animals online or to pet shops
- They are not selling more than one type of breed.
What should I do if I come across a backyard breeder?
If you encounter a suspected backyard breeder during your search for a pet you should not purchase a pet from them. You should report them to your local authority or animal welfare group so that they can be investigated.
What can I do to stop backyard breeding from continuing?
The best thing you can do as a consumer is make sure you are educated about responsible breeding practices and can recognise the warning signs of backyard breeding before you begin looking for a new pet. Only buy from reputable, registered breeders and avoid pet shops except for those that sell rescue animals.
What is the most ethical way to get a pet?
Adopting from a rescue shelter is the most humane and perhaps the most rewarding way to give a pet its forever home. As mentioned, overpopulation of companion animals is an issue that has only grown since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, when people bought pets for companionship during lockdown only to abandon them or turn them in when lockdowns ended.
Adoption is an ethical way of combating this crisis and ensuring that you are not potentially contributing to animal cruelty.