From Puppy Mill, to Pet Store, to Buyer.. Buyer Beware!
Following our site's mission to shoot straight with honest information. This page is meant to pay forward breeding practices of puppy mills, and breeders that aren't quite up to the standards required to produce healthy Great Dane puppies. Matter of fact, such breeding practices affect most all breed dogs, not just Great Danes.
The puppy mill problem..
Those of us here at AAGD do not advocate the purchase of any dog from a pet store, more importantly a Great Dane. With the numerous health issues common in our breed, best bet is a qualified, knowledgeable breeder.
What's a puppy mill anyway? Not an actually mill or factory of course. Puppy mills are facilities (kennels, farms, breeders), licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that produce pet store puppies for distribution in the United States and other foreign markets. The majority of these "puppy factories" are located in rural areas of a few Midwestern states, with Missouri holding the largest concentration. Many mill operators have regular jobs and use this USDA "agricultural commodity" of mass-produced puppies as a means of second income.
I've personally seen a pet store in Massachusetts list puppies as "USDA" which made me cringe as the dog looked nothing like a T Bone steak! Should you come across a situation like this, you now know where these puppies came from.
Life at a puppy mill is horrific. For one, there is very little human contact with the animals. Also, the dogs are typically fed twice daily with other important needs such as cage cleaning, maintenance, and health issues tended to once every week or two. Breeding stock is often confined to a small cage and the bitch kept pregnant, litter after litter. Over breeding and inbreeding are everyday life in the mill as production of puppies equals revenue to the mill operators. A dog produced by a mill is often predisposed to future genetic diseases. Usually a result of inbreeding, poor line breeding and failure to health screen breeding stock. Future temperament problems may also result due to zero socialization and minimal human contact. Thankfully and looking at one positive thing, the puppies will soon have it better once they are removed from their soiled cages, cleaned up, brokered, and shipped off to be sold as AKC purebreds.
Free from the mill at last, jumping up at the glass in some pet store hundreds of miles from its prison, these cute little pups catch the attention of many unsuspecting families.
The pet store connection..
Many good pet stores will try to find quality puppies from reputable breeders to stock their store. You may even be presented with an organized folder including AKC papers, breeder information, and photos of the Sire and Dam. Can this really be a puppy mill dog? Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the dog, (nice presentation folder and all), is not from a puppy mill or unethical breeder. Some pet stores will make an effort to check the history of the breeders they buy from, this is still no guarantee of a quality puppy. Not all pet store puppies are produced by a puppy mill but why take a chance? By avoiding a pet store puppy you are helping to stop animal abuse and put an end to mass-produced dogs.
However, if your heart is set on a pet store puppy, here are a few words of advice. Ask the store for the breeders phone number (this may be near impossible to acquire). If you get it, call them and ask about their experience with this particular breed. Ask for phone numbers and references of others who bought their puppies, call them too. If you can't get the breeders number, try a Google search on the kennel's name. Be certain you will receive a health guarantee with your puppy. Most guarantees include a clause that you should have the puppy checked by a Vet within two weeks, be sure to have it done!
Back Yard Breeders
Back yard breeder is a term for an amateur or inexperienced breeder.
Take for example this guy we met last year a dog park with a beautiful blue Great Dane. He approached us and asked if our Black male was neutered. Disappointed he replied, "I'm looking for a Blue or Black stud for my bitch". This guy is a first time Dane owner who knows nothing about Great Dane genetics, breeding, ethics, and everything else that is crucial to breeding healthy Great Danes. Back yard breeders are inexperienced in breeding dogs, could be any breed. They are not bad people and usually want to produce a litter, keep one pup, and sell off the rest. You may find an awesome little puppy in a classified add that seems perfect..
Or is he?