March 30, 2017
Categories: Research, Animal Behavior

There’s an important tool to help in the fight against puppy mill puppies sold through pet stores: They’re more likely to be aggressive with their owners, strangers and other dogs. They’re also more fearful and suffer more from separation anxiety.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and led by Dr. Frank McMillan, researchers found dogs acquired from pet stores were 30-60 percent more likely to show stranger-related aggression, aggression to and fear of other dogs, and separation anxiety than dogs acquired from non-commercial breeders.

Additionally, they reported, “pet store-obtained dogs 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).”

Other findings included that sexually intact dogs from pet stores were three times more likely to be aggressive toward their owners than sexually intact dogs from non-commercial breeders.

Maddie’s Fund® has partnered with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on a Puppy Mill Campaign to raise awareness of inhumane conditions in puppy mills and encourage consumer change. In developing the campaign, HSUS learned that most consumers weren’t aware that puppies in pet stores came from puppy mills.

The campaign’s focus is on reaching consumers when they are considering getting a new dog, including through its Don’t Buy Into Puppy Mills website. While the position of the campaign is that the first and best place to look for a new pet is an animal shelter or rescue organization, this compelling data underlines an important path to ending the high-volume commercial breeding of puppies for the pet store trade. Animal advocates may primarily oppose this trade on animal welfare and humane grounds, but it’s crucial as well to address common mistaken beliefs about pet store puppies and thus discourage their purchase. This study provides a valuable tool to that end.

McMillan, F., Serpell, J., Duffy, D., Masaoud, E., & Dohoo, I. (2013) Differences in behavioral characteristics between dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores and those obtained from noncommercial breeders. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 242(10), 1359-1363. DOI: 10.2460/javma.242.10.1359

Also of interest:

Therapeutic Insights for Treating Animals Rescued from Puppy Mills and Hoarding Situations

Physical and Psychological Health Issues in Puppy Mill and Hoarding Rescues

Instructions and Prognostic Information for Adopters of Puppy Mill and Hoarding Animals