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 there is no consensus on the definition of a “puppy mill”, 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 prioritizing animal welfare. For more details, see the Croney Research Group research webpage. The Croney Research Group studies dogs kept at commercial breeding kennels. Licensed commercial breeders must, at minimum, be USDA inspected and comply with state and federal requirements for dog care and well-being. 

Ensuring that puppy mills cannot thrive requires approaching the problem from multiple angles.  First, people need tools to recognize and avoid puppy mills and to identify welfare-oriented breeders. Second, those who care about dogs need assurances that breeders are consistently meeting the welfare needs of dogs in their care. Third, responsible breeders need access to high quality, evidence-based resources 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.  Current laws that apply to dogs are written as minimum standards. In contrast, because this program is voluntary, it is able to require standards that align with our belief and public expectations that dogs deserve far 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 the dog’s physical, social and behavioral needs were all prioritized. 

Consumers can also trust that certified breeders are required to have ongoing education in all of these areas as well as the role of genetics on the health and welfare of dogs.    

Be an Informed Consumer 

Before bringing a dog home, every family should educate themselves on the needs of the type of dog they are considering and determine whether they can provide for those. Adding a furry member to the family is a big decision that requires research on the part of the consumer to ensure that the dog they are considering is a great life-long match for the family.  To learn more about choosing a dog for your family, visit our Canine Welfare Science website. 

 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. 

Not sure a breeder is Canine Care Certified™ ?  Contact us for verification of the breeder’s status.  Our auditing partner, Validus, lists participating breeders and also can verify breeder certification online at  If you have the breeder certificate number, you can verify the breeder's status at 

Example Photos From Canine Care Certified™  Kennels

Kennel Design

 Woman in pink jacket stands at the front of an indoor kennel enclosure.  The enclosure has tile floors and walls and a metal gate across the front.  There are steps up to an elevated resting area that leads to the door to the exterior run.  There are three dogs in the pen.   Photo shows the view of the exterior of the kennel from the building through the fenced exterior run to the play yard.  The exterior run has a concrete floor, modern metal roof supported by posts, and is fenced.  The fenced play yard is grass with a shade structure over a playhouse structure.  Photo shows the interior of a kennel with modern, clean, tiled, kennels surrounding a tile walled play area with toys in the center of the room.  The tile walls block the view of the play area from dogs that might be in individual kennels, however, they are low enough for caregivers to see the entire kennel space.  It is clean, colorful, well lit, and well ventilated.   This photo shows the exterior kennel runs on the left with an elevated play structure featured predominantly in a gravel play area in the center .  The runs can be opened directly onto the play area.  There are both ramps and steps to the elevated play structure.  About 10 dogs are outside socializing in the fenced gravel area.   


Small puppies look out the windows of a playhouse in an indoor play area as a hand reaches toward them with enrichment treats.   Three golden retrievers play in an indoor play yard.  There is an A-frame ramp structure, varied dog toys, and a kiddie pool with balls and toys.        Brown and white adult dog lays in the grass and chews on an orange enrichment chew toy.   Two poodle dogs eagerly interact with a dog play puzzle in the indoor play area of the kennel while a third poodle looks on. 

Exercise and Play

   An Amish woman walks an older golden retriever on a leash at sunset in the water along the edge of a lake.   An Amish woman exercises with 3 varied breed dogs along a snowy, plowed driveway on a sunny winter day.   Here is an example of a fenced outdoor play area with both grass and gravel surfaces.  There are three raised play platforms with ramps on two sides and a kiddy pool.  Centered in the frame is small white curly dog standing on the center raised platform looking at the camera.   Male caretaker helps a group of dachshunds slide down the slide from an elevated children's playhouse one at a time in a tree shaded, outdoor, pea-gravel, play area.  The playhouse has a ramp for the dogs to access the upper level so they can come down the slide.

 A young boy in a red shirt is seated on a platform with his hands folded in his lap.  He looks fondly down at a small curly brown dog standing next to him on the platform while the little brown dog looks back.    Little boy in winter clothing is holding a golden retriever puppy on a leash and closing the front door as they head out for a walk.   060424 - Socialization  
Positive Caretaker Interactions

 Caretaker looks over fence to indoor play area with 6 puppies at her feet watching her and hoping for a treat.   Photo shows well-kept grass and gravel outdoor play yard with elevated ramps, chairs for caretakers, and other play structures.  Centered is a caretaker with 6 dogs gathered around his feet as he leans over and pets them.  This example shows both an enriching play area and positive caretaker interactions with dogs.      Man in jeans and ball cap squats down to rub 3 dalmatian dogs gathered in front of him in a grassy fenced area.  There is a black and white dog walking in another grassy fenced area behind them.  

Retirement and rehoming

020924 - Rehoming 1  020924 - Rehoming 3  020924 - Rehoming 4  020924 - Rehoming 5


Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, 625 Harrison Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, 765-494-7607

© 2024 Purdue University All Rights Reserved | EA/EO University | DOE Degree Scorecards | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Purdue Veterinary Medicine Communications

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact us at