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Do Pet Store Dogs Have More Behavior Problems?

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As most of you probably know, pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills. You never know how horrible the conditions are or how the dog are treated. The poor little guys and girls are often neglected and poorly socialized. It’s not their fault and we love them anyway but giving your hard earned dollars to a pet store just puts money in the wrong people’s pockets.

Most veterinarians feel that pet store puppies have more health and behavior problems but sometimes impressions aren’t always accurate.

Pet Store Puppies Problems?

As many have speculated, there appears to be another good reason not to buy a pet store puppy. That reason is behavior characteristics.

A recently published study in the journal of the AVMA compared dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores to those obtained from breeders.

“Pet store derived dogs received significantly less favorable scores than did breeder-obtained dogs on 12 of 14 behavioral variables measured. They had significantly greater aggression toward human family members, unfamiliar people, and other dogs; greater fear if other dogs; greater fear of other dogs and non-social stimuli; and greater separation-related problems and house soiling.”  Source

This study shows us another reason that puppy mills are no good for dogs and pet stores are just the outlet for this tragic industry.

The stress that these puppies go through during the most important socialization period of their lives, puts them at a disadvantage. They are typically exposed to stress such as limited space, little social interaction with a variety of people, exposure to extreme temperatures and dirty living conditions.

At 8 weeks of age, puppies are thought to be particularly sensitive to distressing physical or psychological stimulation.

The researchers also considered the possible effect of the lack of or type of training the different sets of puppies received. There has been some research done that looked at the effects of training on the development of behavior problems.

The take home message here is that we should continue to tell everyone we know to stop buying puppies from pet stores. The only way to effectively stop the puppy mills is to stop giving them money. Legislation is not going to stop them. Look at the “war on drugs”.

Pet stores get most of their puppies from puppy mills.

Pass it on and sound off below!

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  1. Avatar Of Rebecca



    Papers on a puppy have nothing to do with quality. A pedigree can be created on a computer. Look at your dogs registration papers. Do you see a number that starts with A? That is that breeders USDA kennel number. In other words, its a puppy mill! If the number starts with a B, it was given to the puppy by the trucking company who bought FROM the puppy mill and sold it to the pet store. In simple language, a reputable breeder will screen potentail buyers, not allow some store to sell it to anyone with cash in hand.

  2. Avatar Of Reb



    I think I trust Dr. Smith a lot more then two big windbags who come online and attack him. He makes sense. The two loud mouths commenting on the article do not.

    Who let the big mouths out?

  3. Avatar Of Ruth Corsaw (Flicka47)

    Ruth Corsaw (flicka47)


    Judy is SO right! Why is it you feel you have to slander good honest people just to push YOUR shelter dog agenda? It is PHYSICALLY impossible for even “MOST pet stores to get their puppies from a puppy mill” Using the figures from the US Humane Society EACH and EVERY puppy mill would have to have over 7,000 puppies a YEAR to supply ONE puppy a year to each and every pet store in the country.

    Oh, and if you are actually a practicing vet, why don’t YOU give up the money from doing the VET CHECK EVERY pet store does on the puppies they sell? You have no problem taking THEIR money and declaring the pups healthy, so put your money where your mouth is and turn down THEIR business! I bet you won’t!!

    Why don’t you direct your ire at the folks that think their animal is a disposable item, and dump them with the flimsiest excuses instead of denigrating good folks???

    • It is well established that 90% or more of pet store dogs come from puppy mills. They are usually sold through a wholesaler and AKC paperwork has nothing to do with the conditions they were bred under. AKC registration is proof that forms were filled out. There is no genetic testing or proof of what they are submitting. Puppy mills breed purebred dogs and can write down whatever they want on the form.

      Just because they come from pet stores doesn’t make us love them any less and we still do our best for them. This study looked at 6,000 dogs and concluded that there are more behavior problems in pet store dogs. It’s not a lie. It’s data from a reputable University, University of California, Davis in a peer reviewed Journal.

      The comparison was to privately, breeder-obtained dogs, not compared to shelter dogs so there was no intent to push a shelter agenda, just to highlight the fact that there is a higher risk of behavior problems in pet store dogs.

      Insulting me doesn’t add anything intelligent to the discussion and I don’t think that pet store owners are dishonest. They sell a product that people want, buy at wholesale and sell at retail. I completely understand people’s desire to want specific breeds and it makes decisions about buying or adopting a pet difficult.

      It is heartbreaking to see dogs with behavior problems because they can be much more difficult to manage than a medical illness and are one of the top reasons that dogs end up in a shelter in the first place.
      We are on the Dogington Post because we love dogs, not to tear each other down.
      Some helpful resources for you:

  4. Avatar Of Judy Coleman Judy Coleman says:

    Not ALL pet stores get their puppies from “puppy mills”. It is unfair to lump them all together. Yes, some of the puppies may be hyper-active but that does not mean that they’re from a mill. My puppy came from a pet shop & she is AKC registered & healthy. The shop owner is 100% devoted to obtaining quality dogs. I have a copy of my pup’s pedigree, recorded with the American Kennel Club.
    In so many words……the article is not true & does a disservice to honest business people.

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