Information for Consumers
Ensuring that specific health and welfare standards have been met.


Consumer Information

What’s a puppy mill and how does Canine Care Certified help to address the puppy mill problem?

While no standard definition of “puppy mill” exists, we define puppy mills as a dog breeding facility where profit is clearly given priority over the well-being of the dogs, and where there is no interest in or effort toward addressing welfare problems. For more details, see our research webpage. We study dogs kept at commercial breeding kennels. Licensed commercial breeders vary in the quality of life they offer to their dogs. However, they must at minimum be USDA inspected, and must comply with state and federal standards for dog care and well-being. 

Ensuring that puppy mills cannot thrive depends on people being able to recognize and avoid them, law enforcement being able to regulate them, and responsible breeders having the resources they need to help meet public demands for a sustainable supply of healthy, ethically raised dogs and puppies.  Canine Care Certified addresses all of these areas.  The program provides a mark that helps consumers identify dogs raised under stringent welfare standards.  Although the program is voluntary, it potentially complements existing laws, which by definition have to be written as minimum standards. Voluntary participation in much higher standards like Canine Care Certified helps breeders act in alignment with public expectations that dogs deserve more than minimum care and welfare.  Even better, it helps breeders to demonstrate ethics in action since they are choosing to go above and beyond what the law requires in caring for their dogs and puppies.


What does it mean to purchase a dog from a Canine Care Certified breeder?

For consumers, the designation indicates that puppies and dogs raised by a Canine Care Certified breeder are raised under an independently audited program that ensures that specific health and welfare standards have been met. Dogs from certified breeders may be sold privately or commercially.

The program provides an added measure of assurance that certified breeders are attending to their dogs’ physical, genetic, and behavioral health, and are committed to continuously raising the bar on the standard of care and attention they offer to their dogs.

Certification matters

Animal scientists and veterinarians know that physical health is only one measure of the welfare of a dog or puppy.

When choosing a dog or puppy raised by a breeder, consumers have a right to expect that not only were the basic necessities met but also that the dog’s physical, social and behavioral needs were addressed.

Consumers also can trust that certified breeders are required to have ongoing education focused on meeting the genetic, physical health, and behavioral needs of dogs and puppies.

A few considerations for informed consumers

Certified breeders raise dogs and puppies to specific health and welfare standards. However, these dogs and puppies will still exhibit what are considered “normal” behaviors – chewing, jumping, etc. While the standards for certified breeders provide guidance on dogs’ behavioral needs and steps they must take to support these, all dog owners should expect to invest in basic training of their pets (including potty training) to help them successfully transition to their new homes.

Before bringing a dog home, every family should educate themselves on the needs of the type of dog they are considering to ensure that they can provide for those. Adding a furry member to the family is a big decision that requires extensive research on the part of the consumer on not just the type of dog they are considering, but also on the individual dog they are deciding on and the parents of that dog.

How to learn more about Canine Care Certified breeders

Take the time to review this website and learn more about Canine Care Certified and the specific standards that encompass caring for dogs’ physical and behavioral needs.

What to Ask the Breeder or Pet Store

Consumers wishing to purchase a puppy or dog that has been raised to the rigorous standards of the Canine Care Certified program should ask the retail outlet or breeder for proof of current certification.

Breeders should be able to provide customers and consumers with a current copy of their certification.

When purchasing a dog at a retail pet store or other commercial location, ask the retailer whether they purchase animals raised by Canine Care Certified breeders. Ask to see a copy of certification paperwork for their breeders. 

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