Puppy farming Q&A

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1 – What are the female dogs kept in? (cages?)

It varies from puppy farmer to puppy farmer. Licensed puppy farmers are supposed to follow guidelines attached to licensinglaws. You will usually find dogs are kept in a variety of out buildings such as basically converted agricultural barns, pens, stables. There are also those who use more traditional kennelling blocks. Unlicensed puppy farmers are known to use anything from old lorry contains, caravans, cellars and depending on the size of the breed and quantity of dogs, cages, if they’re tiny, they’ve even been known to be kept in cupboards.


2 – Are the males kept near the females?

Stud dogs are usually kept in complete isolation – which can make them literally go insane. It can also lead to intense aggression in these dogs through sensory deprivation which means they have to be separated from other stud dogs to prevent fighting.


3 – When are the puppies taken away and are some kept on the farm for breeding?

By law puppies are not meant to leave their mothers before the age of 8 weeks. However that has been impossible to enforce.And because the ‘cuteness’ of a puppy is paramount in selling them to the public, they have been known to be taken from their mothers as early as 4-5 weeks old. This is so that enough time can be built in to transporting them to dealers and pet shops and make the buying window as long as possible. Puppies removed before they have been properly weaned are not equipped to deal with disease, cross contamination and infection as their immune systems are not fully developed. If these pups survive the stress of transportation, they rarely survive the first few days after being purchased by the public. Pups that may not be ‘good enough’ (remember there are no high quality pups in the first place) for sale are often kept back to be used for breeding. Thus the cycle of poor quality, low welfare breeding continues.


NOTE: Microchipping law was meant to prevent pups from leaving their mums before 8 weeks, however there are dealers who refuse to take pups that are already chipped so that they can buy them, chip them themselves and pass them off as having bred them.


4 – How many dogs are kept in the puppy farms?

Licensed puppy farms have no upper limit. They can keep as many dogs as they like providing they can convince local authorities that they have sufficient staff as set down in licensing conditions. This of course is a pointless exercise because officials have absolutely no way to monitor or enforce whether the staff:dog ratio is being upheld. Unlicensed puppy farms are of course a law unto themselves.




5 – Does Wales have some of the biggest puppy farms in the UK?

Yes and certain counties such as Carmarthenshire have more commercial licensed breeders than any other county in the UK. However the largest puppy farm in the UK is now actually in Lincolnshire.


6 – How much food to the dogs on the farms get? and can they access water?

Again it varies from establishment to establishment. Some have food thrown in and have to eat off the floor where they haveurinated and defecated and where wood shavings or paper bedding all get mixed up together. Others may be fed in bowls, but it’s impossible to know or monitor how and how often any of these breeding dogs are fed.






7 – Is it true that dogs they consider barren are drown?

Once a breeding dog is no longer able to produce puppies, or cannot produce puppies in sufficient quantities she is no longer of any use to a puppy farmer. Because the law states that these dogs remain the ‘property’ of the owner, he or she can dictate what happens to them. Some dogs are given to rescues to rehome but the vast majority are ‘disposed of’ – not my words, that of the councils. So the fastest, cheapest way to dispose of these dogs is to shoot them, strangle them or drown them and then toss their bodies onto the farm waste for incineration. It’s as if they never existed. There is guidance on having a ‘retirement plan’ which was at our insistence, in the new regs. but it’s up to the individual breeder.


(NOTE: Look at the recent case of Ceredigion Council’s prosecution of Richard Jones. A complete disgrace. There’s been a petition about it you may have seen on social media?)


8 – What is everyday life like for a dog on a puppy farm?

In short, a living hell. If they’re lucky they may be let out for an hour into a run. But again, impossible to monitor whetherthese puppy farmers are actually adhering to the conditions attached to their breeding licensed. In summer the dogs suffer from heat – especially if the roof is wrought iron, and in winter they freeze. Many die from heat exhaustion or dehydration in summer. In winter they have been known to freeze to death – in one instance I know of, a dead dog was actually frozen to the concrete floor.





9 – What kinds of people run these farms?

Most people think puppy farmers are men. But there are easily as many, maybe even more who are women. It’s often the case that the men go out and do the farming and the women do the puppy farming to make extra money on the side. It was once something that was considered done by desperate farmers to supplement their incomes. But today puppy farmers are not poor. Puppy farming now supplements their lifestyle of holidays abroad, new cars etc. Some puppy farmers are people who are into equestrian activities and use the dogs to pay for their leisure activity which is a costly one at that. However there is also another side to these people. Often they will have dogs as pets themselves. Somehow they can distinguish between a pet dog and dogs used as breeding machines. It’s mind-boggling. Another thing to consider here is that in Wales in particular, standards of animal husbandry in farming are not commendable. I’ve seen the way they treat their sheep and cows and horses. To them, these breeding dogs are nothing more than a cash crop. One described them as like sacks of potatoes.


10 – Do the dogs get any human contact at all?

Very little. Maybe once a day. And usually any human contact is negative.


11 – Are the barns they are kept in heated? or have lighting?

Licensed puppy farms are supposed to have suitable heating and lighting as part of their licensing conditions. If they don’tthey are told to make these improvements and given a couple of months to do so. However, there have also been some shocking accidents with heat lamps causing fires and sheds burning down killing the dogs inside. Heating lamps are used when there are young pups feeding with their mothers. (Remember the big puppy buying seasons is Christmas unfortunately, and it’s absolutely freezing in rural areas at that time of year). If the bedding used is straw, paper or (if they have any bedding at all), if the lamps are too low down the material catches alight. However another side to the unmonitored use of heat lamps is seeing scars on breeding dogs where they have been burned while feeding their puppies.


12 – If they are kept in cages to their legs get caught in the bottoms (my dogs has scars on her legs)

I have known some dogs to be kept in cages, piled on top of each other. Scars on breeding dogs can be caused by many things. Having to fight for food, aggression from stud dogs during mating etc. Sharp metal objects or splintering wood. Bars and cages also cause injuries to teeth as dogs try to bite through them to get out, or just out of boredom.


13 – How can the farms get away with still running? is it lack of policing?

The question itself is interesting because it looks like you think that puppy farming is an illegal activity. So many people do. But it’s not, providing you have a breeding licence. Although in our experience the levels of welfare in licensed and unlicensed puppy farms are often on a par. Dreadful. Also worth remembering that puppy farms are usually located in secluded rural locations down long private tracks. They are very, very difficult to find. It’s another reason they are virtually impossible for them to be adequately policed.


14 – Are the pregnant females given better treatment?



15 – Do the dogs get any vet care? and are the vets properly trained

Rarely. If a breeding dog needs a caesarean she may end up being taken to a vet but more often a vet will be called out to thefarm to do it. Puppy farm dogs don’t see the outside world. They are usually in such poor condition and so fearful that puppy farmers make sure nobody sees them. The only reason a vet is called out to the farm if there’s a problem with a birth is because of the value of the pups. Not because of the suffering of the mother.

Are vets properly trained? Very few vets truly understand the concept of puppy farming, the effects on breeding bitches and stud dogs and the resulting health and behavioural issues in puppies. There are also vets in Wales who are extremely accommodating to puppy farmers and turn a blind eye to things. There is a desperate need for veterinary professionals to be educated about puppy farming so that they understand why so many of their clients have dogs with various problems. They can usually be traced back to low welfare breeding and lack of socialisation.


16 – Is it true that sometimes one person can oversee 200 dogs?

This was previously true in Wales as there was no staff: dog ratio in place. Now there is but as stated previously, there is no requirement for staff to be on a payroll, so no way to monitor how many people are ever at an establishment.


17 – What happens to sick puppies on the farms

They are ‘disposed of’ – drowning, wringing their necks or smashing their heads against a brick wall – or dumped in a remote location to starve to death.


18 – Are dogs literally bred to death on the farms?

Commonly yes (see answer to Q7). But some puppy farmers aren’t satisfied that they’ve already had their pound of flesh so will sell on ex breeding dogs to the public via ads online. We know of one who didn’t disclose they were ex breeding dogs and the people ended up buying them to ‘rescue’ them. I think the age of dogs coming out of these establishment is slightly younger than in the past. Although this could be because the genetic quality of the dogs that are being used is so poor that they are simply infertile at younger ages.



19 – What are some of the worst regions in the Uk for puppy farms

South Wales is the worst, although other parts of Wales are also bad – just less publicised. There are puppy farms in England as well.


20 – Where are most of these dogs sold? (i.e internet – papers)

Puppy farmers don’t like people coming onto their land. And they don’t want the public to see how the dogs are living, orbeing neglected. Instead they have the convenience of selling puppies via third party channels ie pet shops and dealers. Both of these channels are legal and licensed ways to sell. And as long as puppy farming is enabled by these remote selling channels that ensure the public can never see a puppy interacting with his or her mother, puppy farming will continue to flourish, dogs will suffer, puppies will die and the public will end up either broken hearted or with enormous veterinary bills trying to keep their new pups alive. Recently DEFRA held a consultation on animal licensing in with the EFRA Committee recommended a ban on the selling of puppies by third parties (pet shops, dealers). Astonishingly Dogs Trust,  Blue Cross and Battersea lobbied the Government to reject this ban. The reasons they gave had no basis in fact or evidence. Whereas there was a mountain of scientific evidence and data to support a ban on selling puppies like commodities. So puppy farming dogs will continue to suffer thanks to the richest dog charities in the UK. Just disgusting.



21 – Are dogs beaten on the farms (brie is terrified of people and cowers all the time)

Dogs suffer many negative experiences in these establishments. What happens behind closed doors is impossible to prove, but all you have to do is look at the state of dogs coming out of them, how shut down they are, traumatised, frightened of everything on top of their physical ailments and I think it’s clear that what happens to them at the hands of so many of these people is cold and aggressive to these most sensitive, and intelligent sentient beings. Many ex breeders have a phobia of doors and doorways because they have had negative experiences of being thrown or kicked through them into an enclosed area for mating. Nothing good is on the other side of a door in their lives.



22 – Do dogs develop mental health issues (brie acts like a puppy still and she is 4yrs old)

Yes. Dogs that come out of these establishments rarely reach their full potential. Most have to learn how to be dogs whenthey are middle aged. The are usually the sweetest, most gentle souls who have been emotionally broken by this wretched industry. But what is really heartbreaking is how grateful they are for simple kindnesses and how forgiving they are of human mistreatment. Once they know they are safe and that nothing and nobody will hurt or scare or use them again, it’s an incredible bond that you have with your puppy farm survivor. I call them puppy farm survivors because these establishments are canine concentration camps.


23 – How is the mating of dogs done on the farm? is it natural or by using a syringe?

It varies. And this is one area I’m not hugely knowledgeable about because getting that sort of information out of a puppyfarmer is virtually impossible. I have known of ‘breed-stands’ being used (although we call them rape racks), where the female is restrained and can’t escape. These are not sophisticated people and they don’t use sophisticated techniques (and certainly not ones that are going to cost money) to get these dogs pregnant. As per my comments re Q2 – mating is likely to be traumatic and aggressive given the disposition of the stud dogs.