10 Reasons Not to Buy a Puppy From a Pet Store


Most dog lovers know about the often horrid conditions of puppy mills, the unregulated breeding facilities owned by disreputable breeders. Dogs are often bred far too frequently, are kept cramped together in squalor, and are not socialized with humans. In addition, these breeders do not always care about the health and strength of the breed, which often results in genetic illnesses, poor health in general and unlikable personality traits. But many of these same dog aficionados, who have t-shirts and bumper stickers denouncing puppy mills, don’t know that most puppies sold at pet stores come from there.

There are some pet stores that buy their puppies from commercial kennels regulated by the Department of Agriculture. However, even these pups tend to be unhealthy and unsocialized. This is partly due to the fact that commercial kennels tend to breed many different breeds in one facility and they breed for quantity, not quality. Therefore, their interest does not lie in the healthy promotion of a certain breed but rather in how many sales they can get. So, before you buy that cute puppy in the window, consider the downsides of pet store pups.

10 Reasons Not to Buy From a Pet Store

1. Bad Health: Because so many pet store pups come from puppy mills, they are not the result of careful breeding and they are usually not well cared for before coming to the store. Some common illnesses and conditions are neurological problems, eye problems, hip dysplasia, blood disorders and Canine Parvovirus.

2. Behavioral Problems: Because breeding is indiscriminate, behavioral problems are not weeded out generationally. You’ll also find that a pet store’s staff is not likely to have any training in dealing with behavior issues so the puppies continue to do the wrong things, which become habit.

3. No Socialization: Pet stores pups are often pulled away from their litter at far too young an age, often at only four or five weeks. The earliest a puppy should be separated from his pack is eight weeks and most reputable breeders will say at least 10 weeks. This lack of time socializing with his siblings means that puppy will not develop important canine skills. Likewise, a puppy who has not been handled by people from about three weeks will not naturally socialize well with them.

4. The Downfall of the Standard: In a broad sense, purchasing a puppy from a pet store and then breeding her means you are ruining the standard of that breed because the previous breeders were not concerned with it.

5. Lack of Information: A member of a pet store staff is not an expert on a breed and often not on dogs in general. Purchasing a puppy from a store means you will not get the lowdown on that breed or likely help with any behavioral or other questions.

6. Return at Your Puppy’s Peril: Most pet stores do offer a warranty of sorts where you can bring the puppy back if he has problems. They don’t tend to tell customers that the puppy’s fate, once returned, is usually euthanization.

7. Housebreaking is a Chore: Pet store puppies have spent all their short lives in cages. They do not have the opportunity to develop the natural canine instinct of eliminating away from their food and bed. This causes problems when you try to housebreak them.

8. What You See Isn’t Necessarily What You Get: If you see what looks like a Maltese in the window, you may find, as she grows, that there’s a little Maltese in there somewhere but mostly she looks like a Terrier. There is no guarantee you will get a purebred dog if that’s what you’re after.

9. Poor Value: A puppy from a pet store generally costs between $400 and $2,000. This is often more than you’d pay at a reputable breeder who can ensure you get a healthy puppy and provide support afterward.

10. Questionable Pedigree: You’re paying for a pedigree, or AKC papers, when you buy a puppy from a pet store but it’s very likely that it’s not genuine. If the papers are genuine, it still doesn’t mean the puppy is a good example of its breed – you need a reputable breeder to prove that.

What are our options other than pet store puppies? Find a reputable breeder or adopt your next dog from the local animal shelter or breed-specific rescues!

Reputable breeders are knowledgeable about the breed they represent and can help with behavioral and physical issues that might come up later. These breeders socialize their puppies early on, breed in good traits and breed out bad ones and they can show you your puppies’ parents and give you their history. Human Societies, local animal shelters and breed rescues are all good places to look. True, you don’t have the benefit of meeting your pup’s parents but rescued puppies are thoroughly examined for any illness or condition, are socialized by staff and trained early on. Also, if you adopt a mixed puppy you will likely find he is very healthy as mutts are often healthier than purebreds.

So the next time you see that adorable puppy in the window, pause and think about the downsides of pet store pups. Buying from such a store is, in essence, supporting them and the horrible practice of puppy mills. And it is also almost a sure bet that you’ll have a bad experience.

Comments (20)

  • mandy
    October 29, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    my cousin runs a local pet store and i love looking at those cute puppies that he keeps on the store. But I know puppy mills are bad and it’s not nice to keep them caged up.

  • Brian
    November 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    The pet store here in our area offers me a great deal of discount when i buy from them. But I hate to contribute to puppy farming. I wish prices where less for puppy goods.

  • Bonnie
    May 14, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    So what does that mean? Those puppies don’t deserve a right to a good home just based solely on where they were raised and who looked after them?

    That isn’t right and it isn’t fair to the store puppies. They didn’t ask to be put there.

    I’m not saying I don’t think this article doesn’t hold water. The fact is that pet stores are just barely up to standard, at best, when it comes to the quality of animal care.

    However that doesn’t make it right to just discourage people from giving these animals a potential home.

    It’s the same thing when people discourage people from adopting pets at the animal shelter. Yes you’re rolling the dice when you adopt out of a shelter but those animals NEED homes or they will be put to sleep.

    We don’t need to breed out more animals, we need to take care of the ones we currently have.

  • Thiago
    May 27, 2011 at 3:43 am

    That’s true, but I would not like to keep them caged up in there, so I’d better buy them and become their caregiver.

  • Corey
    May 31, 2011 at 4:35 am

    I worked for a high end pet store for 3 years, and not only am I pretty damn close to an expert on dog breeds, but (aside from other companies) the one I worked for was on their A game. Our puppies came from reputable breeders, USDA licensed, AKC paperwork with DNA testing done to ALL bred dogs, and a LIFETIME HEALTH GUARANTEE that covers congenital and hereditary defects. I understand that not all pet stores offer that, but finding a reputable pet store is just like finding a reputable breeder. In fact, who’s to say that a breeder is reputable? Just because the parents look nice and their house looks nice, doesn’t mean they properly bred the puppies.

    As far as the euthanization of puppies brought back due to health issues, thats absolutely untrue. It costs money to euthanize a puppy, so in the end it is cheaper to simply give the puppy away to a family that doesn’t mind spending extra money on vet bills, and that goes for most pet stores.

    Socialization in a puppy store is the biggest, and most important aspect as well. What do you think socialization is? People play with the puppies, which is socialization.

    And as far as house training, really no matter where you get your puppy from you need to train it. They learn by repetition, and if you’re not an idiot, it can easily be done in as little as 1 week (depending on the breed of course)

    So instead of having the unfortunate experience of purchasing a puppy from a store in which the buyer CLEARLY didn’t look into, getting upset for whatever reason, and writing a top 10 list on why pet stores are horrible, do some research. Not all pet stores are bad, and it’s just like anything else in the world. There are good, and there are bad, no matter what the subject is.

  • puppy bowl 2011
    June 2, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I have my pet store and think that you are not right.

  • Anna
    June 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Bonnie – whilst there is supply, there is demand – the chain will never end with an attitude like that.

  • Jo
    June 28, 2011 at 10:52 am


  • Li Chen Xiang
    July 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I would never buy from a pet store, just my own rule though.

  • emi
    August 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    all those reasons are why I do buy them from there,would you rather let them sit there and suffer other than take them to the vet?honestly i like helping those animals. :(

  • emi
    August 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    its cruel to just leave them there. :'(

  • Anne
    September 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Don’t you realize that if you BUY a dog from a pet store, you are SUPPORTING puppy mills? Where do you think the money goes? I you feel bad for the animals in pet stores DON’T BUY THEM, adopt one from an animal shelter that came from a puppy mill! This way, you are not SUPPORTING the reason why you feel bad for the pet store pets.Don’t buy from breeders… there are so many homeless dogs in shelters, on the streets… everywhere. This argument is stupid. PUPPY MILLS ARE BAD. DON’T SUPPORT THEM BY BUYING THEIR PUPPIES! Honestly, people…

  • Anne
    September 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Bonnie- NOBODY looked after them. Do you seriously want puppy mills to continue? They abuse and neglect animals just to get puppies. I’m sure the dogs being BRED didn’t ask to be put there!

    Emi & Thiago- I understand that you don’t like to leave them there, but wouldn’t you rather help people rescue puppy mill dogs and shut down puppy mills than support them? Stopping puppy mills is really the only thing that can be done for the puppies and their parents.

    Corey- Wouldn’t you rather see animals whose owners abandoned them get rescued than breeders rolling in cash!?

    Puppy Bowl 2011- How could we possibly expect someone who profited from this to realize what they are causing. ABUSE. NEGLECT. But you are to SOULLESS to realize that!

    Once again, this argument is STUPID. I can’t believe people who support this!

  • Kasey
    November 16, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Here’s an idea: Stop fighting and actually change the laws that allow puppy mills. Anne, you’re not too bright, since not only did you type “to” instead of “too” soulless, you’re a straight up jerk to everybody who disagrees with you. If you think that’s effective, you’re not all there…

  • Jan
    January 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I totally agree find private breeders and make sure they are doing a good job!

  • Evie
    June 17, 2012 at 3:55 am

    I agree, don’t buy puppies from pet shops or breeders unless you have checked with your vet that the breeders you are going to buy from have a good reputation.Its simple, DON’T SUPPORT PUPPY MILLS AND THEY WILL EVENTUALLY RUN OUT OF BUSINESS!!

  • britiany
    September 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I agree with kasey why fight with each other you all agree on one thang but not one that really counts puppy mills can’t be shut down they will just move some were else. The thang about the puppy mill is that they are mostly worried about the money not there pets

  • marwa
    December 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    the puppy is so small.it looks adorable.puppies are like the cutest pets ever

  • marwa
    December 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    my dad is going to buy me a puppy when me and my family find a house because my family need a bigger house.

  • marwa
    December 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    shut up evie.

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