Where Are Puppy Mill Dogs Sold?

Small puppy looking over the shoulder of a person

Each year, millions of people buy puppies through pet stores, the internet, and classified ads. Most believe they are getting a dog from a responsible breeder. But the truth is that a huge number of these dogs probably came from puppy mills, living in cruel and inhumane conditions.

Don't be a puppy mill's next customer; educate yourself about how and where dogs from puppy mills are sold.

Where dogs from puppy mills are sold

Unlike pets for adoption, puppy mill pets are often sold online or shipped to pet stores, where unsuspecting buyers are not informed of the conditions under which they were bred.


Puppy mill breeders often have great-looking websites to help them sell puppies directly to the public. Beware of any site that sells dogs, especially if it offers to ship a puppy to you. No matter how convincingly the site portrays how well the dogs are cared for, the reality could be dozens or hundreds of dogs warehoused for breeding and living in poor conditions. 

Keep in mind that anyone can create a website, and there is no guarantee that the information presented on it is factual. Sometimes, the breeder will proclaim right on the site that the business is not a puppy mill. But unless you see firsthand where your puppy comes from, trusting the content on a website is risky. It’s the perfect place for consumer fraud to occur.

Pet stores

Pet stores sell puppies as though they are merchandise. The system is the same as any other product in a store: Puppies are raised with low-cost production methods in which corners are cut to maximize profits, sold to a broker or “middle man,” and delivered to retail stores to be bought by customers. It’s not uncommon for a breeder to sell a puppy to a broker for as little as $75, while the customer in the pet store pays well over $1,000 for that same puppy.

Classified ads

For decades, the newspaper classifieds were the first place that puppy buyers looked for a new pet. Commercial breeders continue to tap into this market by placing ads in newspapers and on platforms such as Craigslist. Beware of any ad that lists several breeds for sale, and consider it a red flag if the breeder offers to meet you anywhere other than the place where the dogs and puppies are raised.

The adoption option

With millions of animals entering shelters and rescue groups every year, anyone can find the right rescued puppy or dog for them if they simply take the time to look. Even if you have your heart set on a purebred dog, you can save a life by adopting. And it's a sure way to avoid supporting puppy mills. 

Start by visiting your local shelter. If you don’t find the right pet there, go online at petfinder.com or adoptapet.com to search for pets at other shelters, as well as at rescue groups. You can also contact breed-specific rescue organizations by searching online for your location, the breed you are looking for, and the word “rescue.” 

Caution: Breeders have caught on that more and more people are choosing to adopt instead of buy. If someone is “adopting out” several litters of purebred puppies, has “more on the way,” and doesn’t seem to have adult animals in need as well, proceed with caution. This person might be a breeder rather than an animal rescuer.

Remember, every pet adopted is a life saved. Thank you for helping to Save Them All.