Home > Backyard Breeders, Health Care - Dogs, Pet News, Puppy Mills > New reasons not to buy a puppy from a pet store

New reasons not to buy a puppy from a pet store


Puppy Wearing BowIf you’ve heard anything about the connection between puppy mills and pet stores, then you’ve also likely heard about the dangers of buying a puppy from a pet store.

Past studies and stories have shown that puppies purchased from pet stores are more likely to be sick, infested with parasites, and have physiological issues due to poor breeding and inbreeding – something you often see in puppy mill puppies.

Last week, I read an interesting new study that seems to further expound on the dangers of purchasing a puppy from a pet store. This new study focused not on the health of pet store puppies, but on the behavioral differences between dogs bought as puppies in pet stores and those brought from noncommercial breeders. The results were very interesting.

The study: Differences in behavioral characteristics between dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores and those obtained from noncommercial breeders

Sample size:

  • Dogs obtained from pet stores – 413
  • Dogs obtained from a noncommercial breeder – 5,657

Tools used for study and analysis: C-BARQ (Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire)

Results Summary: Dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores had significantly greater aggression towards human family members, unfamiliar people, and other dogs, had greater fear of other dogs and nonsocial stimuli and greater separation-related problems and house soiling issues.

More specifically, the results showed that pet store dogs were:

  • 3 times as likely to have owner-directed aggression (if sexually intact) as were sexually intact dogs acquired from breeder
  • nearly twice as likely to have dog-directed aggression (i.e., aggression towards unfamiliar dogs)
  • 30% to 60% more likely to have stranger-directed aggression, aggression towards other household dogs, fear of dogs, and nonsocial stimuli,  as well as separation-related problems and touch sensitivity.
  • somewhat more excitable, energetic, and attention-seeking
  • generally less trainable, if they did not participate in working or recreational activities
  • had a range of miscellaneous behavioral problems at significantly higher frequencies than did those acquired from breeders (e.g., escaping from the home, sexual mounting of people and objects, and most forms of house-soiling)

All credit given to the authors of “Differences in behavioral characteristics between dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores and those obtained from noncommercial breeders

I doubt these latest results will stop people from buying that cute puppy in the pet shop window, but I hope it will, at the very least, give them pause to think. Caring for a sick puppy is one thing, but dealing with behavioral issues later? Maybe, just maybe, it’s worth reconsidering that purchase. One can only hope.

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  1. August 11, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    I understand your quest to stop people from buying from pet stores, which in turns will hopefully lead to stopping puppy mills, but don’t those puppies in the window deserve a home too? Just curious.

    • martie13
      August 12, 2013 at 8:43 AM

      Of course they do. But every puppy purchased from a pet store keeps the puppy mills in business. The aim is to cut off the demand and shut down the puppy mills. Weigh the number of pups in pet stores against the number waiting in shelters. Pups that don’t sell grow up and will likely end up in shelters adding to the already overtaxed system. A certain number of the shelter dogs will be euthanized. If it takes x number of the puppy mill dogs to be sacrificed for the greater good will it really matter when the end result is to bankrupt puppy mills and fewer dogs going into the system?

      • August 12, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        So you have no problem throwing away puppies that came from a puppy mill, in order to stop the production of puppies mills. Interesting.

      • Shana
        February 14, 2016 at 4:41 AM

        A lot of puppies too old don’t go to shelters they return them to the mill to breed

      • Mel
        February 15, 2016 at 8:59 PM

        Most of the time they just discount them until someone does buy them. They rarely go back to the mill.

  2. michelle
    August 12, 2013 at 5:52 AM

    just like to say that I am against pet stores selling dogs 100% but I am not sure the results of this survey are accurate.. I think pet store dogs are more often than not an impulse buy Oh, look at that cute puppy in the window and dogs sold from breeders or adopted from shelters are usually much more thought out by the buyer or adopter. This as a result ends with the person acquiring the dog maybe having a bigger investment in the dog’s training and mental well being whereas the pet store dog could be living in a different sort of life after the initial excitement of the purchase wears off and real life sets in. Just a thought on the study.

    • Mel
      August 12, 2013 at 6:33 AM

      Really valid point Michelle. I think it could be a combination of both. Many pet store puppies are also removed from their mothers before they should be and that can also lead to behavioral problems.

      • michelle
        August 12, 2013 at 8:42 AM

        I 100% agree with you. Never a good situation for any puppy to come from or adult “breeder” dog. Let’s hope for better days!

  3. August 12, 2013 at 6:17 AM

    It is hard to believe that pet stores still sell puppies and kittens and that people actually buy them. So sad!

    • Mel
      August 12, 2013 at 6:34 AM

      I know. Unfortunately they still do.

  4. August 12, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    Interesting study Mel and thanks for sharing. We just had a new store pop up in our neighborhood that sells puppies. I was shocked and devastated to see it and I had to do a double take as I drove by. It makes me sad that our city would allow this, it’s bad enough we have a Petland.

    • martie13
      August 12, 2013 at 8:54 AM

      Animal rights groups/advocates should organize a peaceful protest outside that store handing out anti-puppy mill information to the patrons and carrying signs that say “Don’t buy puppies/kittens from pet stores,” “Ban puppy mills” and “Adopt, don’t shop”.

  5. August 12, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    This is just such a sad situation……for both the puppy and the new owner.

  6. martie13
    August 12, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    I don’t know how accurate the study is but any deterrent to buying puppies from pet stores is a good thing. The more discouraging information out there the better. Whether is reaches the target audience is another thing.

    • Mel
      August 13, 2013 at 11:19 PM

      Amen to that. This study utilized a well-respected university questionnaire and empirical data, so I hope it is accurate, but either way, I agree with you Martie. If it discourages buying from a pet store then that is good. Hopefully, it will make its way around to those who need to know.

  7. jan
    August 12, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    I think the only sure way of stopping puppy mills is to dry up the market by educating people about the realities of those adorable, but often tragic little guys in the window.
    Bringing out information like this is important.

    • Mel
      August 13, 2013 at 11:17 PM

      Agree. Thanks Jan. The more people know, the less they will choose this option. It’s all about education.

  8. August 12, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    Great post. I hope lots of folks considering a puppy will read this! Folks really need to be educated about the best options for bringing a puppy home. It kills me when I meet folks and ask about their pup and they say “Oh, we bought him from a guy in front of the grocery store.” Ugh.

  9. August 12, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    That is very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Now that I have owned rescued dogs, I can’t imagine having anything else!

  10. August 13, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Martie 13 I apologize for my ignorance, this post hit such a tender nerve and I didn’t mean to take it out on you. I am sorry.

  11. August 13, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Whatever it takes to convince people not to buy a pet store puppy. It’s really not surprising….puppies from reputable breeders are for more likely to get proper socialization, and to not be let go from their mother earlier than they should be. Plus they are most likely given love, attention, and comfortable surroundings. Not to mention missing out on the stress of being loaded up into a huge transport truck and shipped across the country in some cases.

    • Mel
      August 13, 2013 at 11:05 PM

      Agree! Agree! Agree!

  12. August 15, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Oh Jan K, thank you! I was trying to find a way to phrase it and you did it for me.

  13. September 10, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Information on pet stores has to help. I’ve never even breed any of my dogs – 1 – with the exception of 2 dogs (bought from breeders), all of my dogs are rescues, so I have no idea what their backgrounds are.
    2- Breeding dogs should be done by someone that understands how to breed dogs to ensure that they’re improving the breed, something I don’t have any idea how to do!

    To be honest, most of my dogs have been so wonderful that I wish I could have bred them – just to pass on the wonderfulness. (smile) Certainly, the 3 rescues we have now are great dogs – all of them were at least a year old (and our big Lab is a senior dog) – and I love adopting older dogs! They are so much easier than puppies…and, to me at least, I could see their personalities much better…and already knew I loved them!
    So…I think they are even better than pet stores!!!

  14. Shana
    February 14, 2016 at 4:40 AM

    I bought a puppy from a store in October.. I don’t promote buying from them but I mean all dogs need love.. she was two days away from being taken out of the store (what they do from there I don’t know) she I didn’t pay a high price… she is seriously the sweetest girl loves people and is so sweet towards strangers family and other animals

    • Mel
      February 15, 2016 at 9:02 PM

      You really don’t have to justify it to me Shana. You love your dog and you should not feel guilty about that.

      I think for me it’s knowing that my buying from a pet store supported the abuse of the mother and father was enough to deter me. I would just ask you to consider whether your next dog will come from a place that supports shooting dogs when they can no longer breed or one where the parents are cared for and loved.

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