What is a puppy mill? What is the difference between a puppy mill and a backyard breeder? Does it really matter in the long run? Yes! It does.
Puppy mills are a sad and frustrating problem in the world of dogs. The definition: "A puppy mill, sometimes known as a puppy farm , is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility that operates under substandard conditions regarding the well-being of dogs in their care. Similar types of operations exist for other animals commonly kept as pets or used as feed for other animals." - Wikipedia
These animals, dogs specifically, are kept in TINY cages or crates, often 2-4 dogs per cage (or a mom and her litter), bred and bred till they are physically spent and no good, then discarded: or end up so sick they die from the filth of living in piles of their own feces, lack of nutrition, clean water, and general lack of veterinary care. Frequently these pups are sold in pet stores or online brokers. When purchasing a puppy from one of these places, often they are unhealthy with crusty eyes and/or noses, worms, malnutrition or urinary tract infections (or any combination of these). On the other end of the spectrum, even if they end up somehow generally healthy, have major temperament issues from lack of socializing and treacherous living conditions they are brought up in. They are also typically sold TOO young, at 5-6 weeks of age.
So, what is a backyard breeder? "The average pet owner that breeds their dog(s)." Not as bad... true, but still not optimum. This is when a person has a pet dog, who for one reason or another is not a breeding quality dog (wrong body conformation, wrong head shape, teeth alignment, eye color, or is otherwise not perfectly "healthy" (hernia or the like) and should not be bred. Either they think their dog is "cute an should have puppies" or want to try to make back their purchase price so they breed them anyways. Generally they are not necessairly from healthy breeding stock, they can come from lines that have cancers, thyroid issues, allergies, bad hips (dysplasia), heart conditions and the list goes on and on. By-passing this important health testing is like playing russian roulette. You never know what the tendencies are in the pups. Temperament issues (aggression, anxiety) are also genetically transferred, so if you breed a dog with these issues, you can also pass them on to the puppies.
A reputable breeder is one who, breeds for A) the LOVE of the breed, B) to BETTER the breed through selective processes, C) concerned with the overall health and well being of the pups and parents D) are responsible and test their breeding stock for (that breeds specific health issues) to ensure the pup you buy is healthy, well balanced and the most sound (mind) available to you. E) are selective about the homes their pups go to, because we love the pups as our own and want them to have the BEST life possible.
You may end up getting a pup at a fraction of the cost (compared to a reputable breeder) purchasing a puppy from a mill, pet store or backyard breeder, but will pay a much higher cost in the long run with vet bills, or worse a dog with a shortened life span, or temperament issues that can not be fixed.