What Do Breeders Do With Puppies That Don’t Sell?

You’re not the only one who has ever wondered about the breeders’ decisions regarding puppies that do not sell. Unfortunately, this is an issue that’s not solved. 

Responsible breeders don’t simply dump their puppies and give them to the SPCA or local kill shelter. Breeders who are responsible raise their dogs to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. Plus, they insist on returning any breed they have bred!

Responsible Breeders Don’t Dump Puppies

Responsible breeders won’t throw away unwanted puppies. They are very selective about the people who get their puppies and insist on spaying and neutering before selling full registration puppies.

There are a number of debates around desexing at such a young age and we will address this in a future blog. When selling full registration puppies, responsible breeders will create a waiting list for the puppies and only breed when they have enough interested individuals who want to purchase the majority of their litter. If a breeder refuses to reveal the source of its litter, it may be a sign that it’s a puppy mill.

A breeder will always continue to look at finding homes for their puppies, but they will not settle on just any home to simply move the dog on. Breeders having a back list of buyers prior to having a litter is what prevents this from ever being an issue in the first place. Unless there are some unforeseen circumstances, a breeder will generally have the litter sold before they are born.

We still like to think that the majority of breeders are always trying to better the breed standards of the dog that they are breeding.

Breeders usually allow their pups to leave their mothers when they are only 8 weeks old. Certain breeders inform their customers that their puppies need to be “weaned” before they leave their mother. It will usually be done around the 6 week mark in order to ensure the pup’s safety and welfare. It is also essential to choose responsible breeders who keep the puppy with its mother at least until the 6 week mark. Preferably right up until 8 weeks when the puppy is ready to go to its new home.

Holding Onto The Puppy For Life

The Breeder’s focus is to raise healthy puppies and the best representation of that breed.

Although breeders might have the best processes to ensure high-quality puppies, sometimes nature has other plans and the litter may produce a dog that has some health concerns. These puppies who tend to have some health issues from birth may not be suitable to go to a new home at 8 week of age or at any age for that matter. 

The puppy may need to have extra care that the regular pet owner may not be able to provide. In these cases, although rare, the breeder will take the puppy and simply take it to their family as a pet of the household. They will not breed from the dog, but provide it with the care and the home it needs to have a normal healthy life as possible. These are the breeders that you look for when deciding where to purchase your puppy.

Always consider purchasing a puppy from a licensed breeder who focuses on one breed. 

Although most breeders concentrate on one or two breeds, reputable breeders don’t tend to sell multiple breeds under the same name. Ideally, they’d stick to just one or two breeds to ensure high-quality of the animal. So, they’ll be more likely to produce a healthy and happy animal.

They Charge More Than Backyard Breeders

Although backyard breeders might have good intentions, there are a lot of issues in their business. They may not always have the funds to produce superior quality pups as well as have the same knowledge about the health of their dogs. Professional breeders might have more information than backyard breeders, and they might not have the paperwork necessary to prove their claims. 

Also, backyard breeders may have a pup with a pedigree that is designed that isn’t accepted by pure breed organizations.

In some regions, backyard breeding could be necessary. Backyard breeders could conceal the living conditions of their pups or the mother of their litters in these situations. The backyard breeders can make their profits from breeding by selling puppies that are not wanted. 

In addition, backyard breeders don’t have to give a full-on vaccination to their litter. Responsible breeders wait until the puppies have reached at least 8 weeks of age before selling their pups. They also offer receipts to buyers.

They Request That All The Dogs They Breed Be Returned

They Request That All The Dogs They Breed Be Returned

A breeder is not selling puppies with the intent they return to them. It happens to everyone and a puppy might not be the right choice for your family. 

There are many reasons why allergies, illness, divorce, relocation, and financial concerns can interfere with the plans you had to keep your dog. It’s a sad circumstance, but that does not mean that you cannot return a pet to a loving home. A family member who is devoted or a close friend may be competent to care for the dog and return it to the breeder.

Responsible breeders are responsible and take their responsibility seriously. They are committed to preventing overcrowding in shelters and the dogs they breed from ending up in an unsuitable living environment. 

If new owners are unable to take care of their pups, Breeders will strongly encourage that their puppies be returned to them. You may find this will actually be in the contract of sale. This is always the first point of contact when you find yourself in a situation where you may no longer be able to care for your dog.

They Require Home Screening Before Weaning

Buyers who are interested in buying puppies should be allowed to visit the premises of a breeder. Buyers who are interested are generally allowed to come and see the puppies around the 6 week mark. It is not really necessary to see the puppies face to face beforehand. One visit around 6 weeks before picking the puppy up at 8 week is usually all that is needed.

The backyard breeders and puppy mills frequently wean puppies before they’re fully grown. The mother’s being taken away for the litter too early is a poor idea, as it can negatively impact the development. In some cases the puppies are taken away from their mother early due to health issues of the mother or the mother rejecting the puppies. Although this is not very common, it has been shown that if the puppies stay with their littermates and the breeder invests the time into their proper socialization, the puppies still develop just fine. 

They Maintain A Waiting-List For Customers Who Have Been With Them For A Long Time

Breeders maintain a waiting list of repeat buyers who purchase puppies that don’t sell because there are often more inquiries than puppies for sale. Breeders might have more buyers than pups, especially for breeds that are popular. Responsible breeders take care of the well-being and health of their pets, and do not force them to have litters. A reliable breeder will offer you to be able to visit their kennels regularly to look at their current litters.

Breeders who excel in breeding puppies will have lengthy wait lists for customers who are returning. They should conduct temperament tests on each puppy and provide open days for prospective buyers to look at the puppies. In addition, they should request contact details and allow only appointments to view their puppies. Breeders keep a waiting list for repeat clients who are interested in puppies and should keep track of any inquiries.


As you can see, it will most likely be a rare situation where a breeder finds themselves with puppies left over from a litter and unable to sell. Unless, of course, the breeder has chosen for some reason to hold on to a puppy or one has been returned. Reputable breeders are usually well networked and able to eventually find the suitable home that the puppy deserves.

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Coco is a regular content writer of pet daily press and working on wildlife animal health. Billy researched on hundreds of dog health issues, foods, medicines and dog's behaviours. He currently lives in Orlando, FL. He owns a Golden Retriever and a Great Pyrenees. His wife also has two cats.

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