Get your purebred pup

from ethical origins & avoid black market trade

Adding a purebred doggo to the family is an exciting and often expensive excursion. But imagine the consternation and disappointment should your ‘bona fide’ fur kid wind up not so. While that shouldn’t affect your relationship, there’s nothing quite like the sting of discovering you’ve been sold a poorly bred pup for way more than its true value.

Avoiding this scenario takes time and care, says Michelle Le Long, Chief Operating Officer for pet insurance provider PD Insurance. By following a few handy tips you’ll ensure your pet buy is above board, pooch withstands any scrutiny, and you get a problem-free purchase.

“It’s sad to say, but people do operate so-called ‘puppy mills’ in New Zealand where they’re effectively churning out pets with little concern for their wellbeing – which can lead to physical and behavioural health problems,” Le Long explains.

Owing to the absence of standards in a puppy mill, there is a good chance of genetic conditions being passed on. This could mean an unhealthy pet with a limited lifespan and excessive vet bills. Conditions can include physical problems such as heart conditions, dental issues, autoimmune diseases, eye issues, skin issues and others; there is also the risk of uncharacteristic behavioural issues, such as aggression or excessive timidity.

“Some even try to work around the proper standards of lineage which determine pedigree,” says Le Long. With purebred and pedigree puppies, it is relatively easy for sellers to make grandiose claims about the canines they are producing. The key for buyers is to ensure every statement is backed by evidence, such as dog pedigree papers and DNA test results.

And while there isn’t a formal definition for a puppy mill, these are commercial breeding establishments that focus on rapid breeding in neglectful conditions. The sole purpose of a puppy mill is profit rather than the health and welfare of all the animals involved.

Puppy mills – how to spot one

The US Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association defines a mill as having ‘emphasis on quantity over quality, indiscriminate breeding, continuous confinement, lack of human contact and environmental enrichment, poor husbandry, and minimal to no veterinary care.’

Co-founder HUHA (Helping You Help Animals) Carolyn Press-McKenzie explains how to spot a puppy mill. “Unethical puppy mills put mum in a cage to have litter after litter, often in unsanitary conditions, with little socialisation or exercise or exposure to the outside world. The best way to identify such an operation is to visit – not being allowed to is a big red flag.”

When visiting, assess the standard of care: are the dogs in good condition, where do they sleep, are their surroundings clean and spacious with access to a decent play area, are food and water bowls clean, etc. You’ll want to ‘meet the mum’ too and see how she responds to the environment around her.

Also discuss why the owner is breeding – genuine breeders tend to be happy to share their history and reasons for breeding with potential puppy parents.

Another major warning sign, adds Press-McKenzie, is if the breeder sends puppies to new owners without meeting or making any effort to get to know who you are and how you intend looking after your pet. “Good breeders take care of their dogs, including pups going to new homes, and they care who buys them. It’s a sign of integrity and respect for animal welfare.”

Le Long says supporting a puppy mill, whether intentionally or through force of circumstance (such as responding to an online advert from an unscrupulous breeder) means inadvertently supporting animal abuse.

“Very few dog parents would want to fall into that ethical trap. So, take care to ensure your purebred pup is from a reputable breeder and that they have evidence to back its pedigree.”

Purebred dogs – how to know they are

Purebred dogs are cultivated varieties selectively bred to deliver specific characteristics which conform to a ‘breed standard’. A pedigree dog has traceable lineage; that is, its bloodline (parentage) is recorded. If a dog is advertised as a purebred, the breeder should provide papers proving its heritage. Anything less means the dog is not verifiably a purebred.

A good starting point for those looking for a purebred is researching the breeder. In addition to assessing their reputation, check they are registered with Dogs New Zealand, that they have a verifiable physical address, and that you can connect with other owners of their dogs.

And if you already have a pup you now suspect came from a puppy mill, don’t despair – your pet’s value is in its nature and the joy and other many benefits it brings to the family. If you suspect animal abuse at the facility where he or she came from, report it. In emergency cases, ring 111, and in other cases, contact your local HUHA or similar for assistance.

Of course, for all pet parents, Le Long says it’s worth protecting the fur kids against accident and illness with a suitable dog insurance plan.


Media contact 
Leandri Smith – The Mail Room 
027 365 9003 | [email protected]