Home > Animal Welfare Issues, Daisy, Health Care - Dogs, Pet News, puppy mill dogs, Puppy Mills > Pet store puppies: The stress of the mother passes to down to the child

Pet store puppies: The stress of the mother passes to down to the child

puppy mills 1The more you dig into puppy mills, the more you learn about the physical and physiological repercussions it has on the mother dog (and that doesn’t even take info consideration the genetic issues) and her puppies.

Last fall, when Dr. Frank McMillan spoke at an event (hosted by Animal Folks MN), he shared some data on the behavioral issues that show up in puppy mill puppies sold in pet stores. The results were quite startling:

  • Out of 14 behavioral variables measured across puppies from responsible breeders and those sold in pet stores, the pet store puppies were found to have fared worse in 12.
  • As they grew up, pet store puppies showed more aggression towards their owners.
  • Pet store puppies also displayed more aggression towards other dogs.
  • Puppies who are purchased in a pet store are more likely to escape and run away.
  • Pet store puppies tend to be under-socialized because they are taken away from their mothers too early and are likely to experience trouble as they grow up.

You can read more about Dr. McMillan’s study via Penn State here: Penn Vet study finds pet store puppies come with increased risk

Puppy mill breeding dogs have their own set of behavioral issues – almost all due to a lack of socialization and fear and ongoing abuse, but now we can show that the puppies they bear have problems too. Why is this the case?

New evidence suggests that mother dogs experiencing extreme levels of stress can pass that stress on to their puppies, and that stress can impact their lives long after they have been weaned and adopted into loving family homes.

The body is designed to protect the puppies from normal amounts of stress:

“Normally, an enzyme inactivates cortisol at the placenta, protecting the fetuses from the level of cortisol that the mother is experiencing. But when the cortisol level is extremely high, some passes through the placenta to the developing puppies. They receive the extra cortisol as information: The world is scary. We should be prepared. “

You can read more on this in the Whole Dog Journal from their November 2014 issue, titled “How a Mother’s Stress Can Influence Unborn Puppies: A highly stressed mother dog may influence her unborn puppies and affect their adult behavior.”

That pet store puppies are more likely to carry this stress message in their systems should not be all that surprising. After all, past evidence has shown that the stress of the mother passes down to the baby, both in humans and rats.

Puppies born in mills experience the stress of the mother in utero and after they are born. When you add in the fact that they are then pulled away from their mothers at a very young age, shipped across country in trucks with other sick little puppies, manhandled and placed in a pet store window, where they are on display and handled over and over again until they are adopted, it’s a wonder any of them survive, much less make it into a home as a normal dog. That they fare poorly on 12 of 14 behavioral variables should not be surprising either. It makes one wonder why anyone would want a dog from a pet store at all.  


Daisy in the early days.

Daisy’s last litter of puppies were kept by the organization that saved her life. They were going to be trained to be service dogs. I wonder how many of them failed to make the cut?  I hope not many, but the more and more I learn about puppy mills and their impacts on the dogs and their offspring, the more I believe that they were doomed from the start.

Now how sad is that?




  1. March 30, 2015 at 2:14 AM

    It would be interesting to know from the organisation how many did become service dogs 🙂

    • Mel
      March 31, 2015 at 6:44 AM

      I agree. It would be interesting. I hope that several did. It just made the reality in my mind a little different once I realized that the fears of the mother actually do pass down to the offspring.

  2. fredrieka
    March 30, 2015 at 5:20 AM

    this makes me howl for them poor furbabies

  3. March 30, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    Such a sad story. And again…what is wrong with people?

  4. March 30, 2015 at 10:49 AM

    Given Ray’s lack of social skills when he adopted us (he didn’t even know how to greet other dogs appropriately so we had to teach him!), we strongly suspect that he was taken away from his “mom” very early.
    As I have mentioned in other Blogs, Ray has been with us for over 2 years now and our local shelter is still helping us when requested to do so. They still welcome him back there when he chooses to visit (which is often because he is very attached to a number of individuals there). Their trainers are always willing to advise and have even visited us when deemed necessary …….. and all this simply because we adopted Ray from them. I challenge anybody to find a Pet store that is able to (and willing to) offer that kind of service.
    “Adopt don’t shop” should really not take much thinking about.

  5. March 30, 2015 at 11:16 AM

    Thanks so much for posting. Puppy mills are just plain awful for both moms and their pups! 🙂

    • Mel
      March 30, 2015 at 11:01 PM

      You hit the nail on the head. Thank you.

  6. March 31, 2015 at 11:04 AM

    I read an article recently that claimed that 28% of all dogs comes from breeders and 22% come from shelters (which says nothing about their earliest start in life). Where are the other 50% of dogs coming from? And if it’s from puppy mills via internet sales and pet stores, that could certainly explain the poor socialization we see in so many dogs today.

    And it really makes me nuts that people are willing to profit off the indiscriminate breeding of animals. A friend recently told me to look out for my financial best interests first. But I wonder if that’s exactly what puppy mill owners say to themselves.

  7. April 6, 2015 at 4:11 PM

    I have never purchased a puppy from a puppy store, but I have had many friends that have. Based on what I have seen from their animals behaviors, this is totally correct. All of my friends animals not only have had more medical problems, which may be a coincidence, but they all also have behavioral problems. Whether it is aggression, or pure fright of people, I feel terrible for these animals that are being born into these bad situations that do not ever have the chance to be a normal dog.

    As a side note, I live in Reno, Nevada, and our city council has passed a new ordinance to make Reno puppy store/ puppy mill free. All of the puppy stores that were getting their puppies from mills have been closed down. There is only one or two puppy stores left, and they have to prove where they get their puppies from. Generally, they now get their puppies from local breeders who seek the help of finding homes for their puppies. I believe that more cities should take this stance in order to help combat the problems of puppy mills.

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