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The Troubling Reality of Backyard Dog Breeders


Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but have you ever thought about where puppies come from?

It’s an important question to ask.

Turns out, Australia has one of the highest pet populations in the world. According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), there are currently about 28.7 million pets living in Australia. Just under half of all people share their home with a dog.

So, where are Australians getting their puppies from?

Ideally, an ethical breeder, such as  Murray River Puppies Pty Ltd.

-With 27 years of experience,  dedication to the health and well-being of every single dog and puppy in our care.

-With Victorian Government approval to breed

-Small scale.


So, where are Australians really getting their puppies from?

= Backyard Breeder purchases.

Since the pandemic pet boom, Australia (like many countries) is facing a huge problem when it comes to irresponsible unregulated backyard breeders selling puppies purely for profit from backyard breeding facilities and puppy mills. Of the 450,000 puppies sold in Australia each year, it’s estimated that only 10% come from reputable breeders, leading to a host of animal welfare issues.

This should be cause for alarm for dog lovers everywhere!


The Problem with Backyard Breeders

Hearing how many puppies are purchased annually, it leads many people to wonder:

Are backyard breeders really such a big issue?


Sadly, the answer is YES.

Those with a dog’s best interests at heart will always do what is right for their puppies. For breeders in Victoria, Australia, this includes being regulated by government bodies and following strict compliance measures.

However, backyard breeders (also known as “micro-breeders”) do NOT adhere to the same high standards.

Instead, backyard breeders often rely upon breeding practices that are:

  • Unethical

  • Irresponsible

  • Under educated.

Here are some key issues associated with micro-breeders:

They have No Experience or Knowledge of Best Breeding Practice.


Backyard breeders lack the necessary knowledge, experience, and expertise in responsible breeding. It takes years – even decades – to have a deep understanding of canine genetics, breed standards, and proper healthcare, not to mention build relationships with veterinarians and fellow breed enthusiasts.

With fewer resources and less time available to supervise whelping mother dogs, there is also a higher chance of complications, such as Mastitis, Eclampsia (Milk Fever), and Dystocia (puppy trapped in birth canal). Yikes!

The outcome?

     -Needless suffering and pain. 


Profit Over Puppies welfare


Unscrupulous backyard breeders focus on flipping a profit…at the expense of dogs. 

In one news article published by Daily Mail Australia, it was discovered that some micro-breeders are selling puppies on Instagram and making as much as $50,000 CASH from a single litter! This is Tax free.

Shockingly, female dogs are bred over and over again starting at a young age. If mother dogs experience psychological or physical distress, or puppies are born with special needs, they are typically abandoned or disposed of. Many are sold to unsuspected new owners leaving them with huge ongoing vet bills.

On the other hand, all breeders in Victoria with more than two fertile females must register as a Domestic Animal Business and comply with a Code of Practice. Yet to the dismay of animal advocates, this rule doesn’t apply to breeders with under two fertile females (AKA backyard breeders).


Falls Outside Legislation.

Speaking of legislation, when you purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder, rest easy knowing they will come with:

  • Routine vaccinations

  • De worming and flea treatment

  • A microchip.

That’s because in Victoria, Australia, it’s the law! But micro-breeders fall outside such legislation.

Therefore, they aren’t required to:

  • Provide a 3-year genetic / hereditary guarantee

  • Restrict mothers to 5 litters

  • Obtain a breeding certificate from a veterinary technician prior to breeding

  • Have at least 5 years experience in breeding

  • Undertake a Certificate IV in animal companionship.



For these reasons, Murray River Puppies urges soon-to-be pet parents to contact only legislated breeders when searching for their new fur baby. 


Inadequate Health and Genetic Screening.

Additionally, certain breeds are more prone to health problems and hereditary diseases. To prevent these from being passed on to their progeny, mother and father dogs need to be tested. But this rarely happens in the case of micro-breeders. The result can be illness and/or serious health consequences that worsen the quality of a puppy’s life.

Plus, heartbreak for you.

Poor Living Conditions.

Backyard breeders are sometimes reluctant to have interested buyers visit their home.



Well, because they must operate in the shadows!

You would be surprised by the appalling conditions many puppies live in while waiting for their future homes. Dogs are kept in overcrowded sheds, rooms, and cages. Food and water are unsanitary due to feces and urine that go uncleaned.  

When raised unhygienically, infectious diseases can be passed on from animals to humans too, such as zoonosis.


Contribution to Pet Overpopulation.

Lastly, did you know?

Animal shelters are bursting at the seams.

Tragically, 264 healthy dogs and cats are euthanized in Australia every day. Unregulated backyard breeding adds to the problem of pet overpopulation and subsequent surrender. Backyard-bred puppies who are not properly cared for end up in shelters and rescue organizations, contributing to the heavy burden that falls upon animal welfare organizations.

On the contrary, regulated breeders have puppy wait lists, usually months or even years long.

Buyer Beware: Recognizing and Avoiding Backyard Dog Breeders

How do you identify irresponsible breeders?

Here are 5 red flags to watch for:

  1. No website (only advertising on social media).

  2. Pressure to buy on the spot.

  3. Demanding cash payment.

  4. Not letting you meet the dog’s parents or litter mates.

  5. Lack of ongoing breeder support.



Take Action! How to Combat Backyard Dog Breeders in Your Community.

Ultimately, backyard dog breeders undermine animal welfare and fail to contribute to the betterment of dog breeds as a whole.


So, we encourage you to take action!

Together with our partners, Murray River Puppies has written a letter on behalf of Victorian Government Approved Breeder’s Group Pty Ltd (VGABG) calling attention to the problem of backyard breeders.

To learn more, please visit:

Legislation in each state

Each state in Australia has their own legislation in regard to dog breeding. Some states have passed progressive legislation, but other states have done very little to protect the welfare of dogs. Read what each state is doing before you purchase your next puppy. 


  • Puppy factories and the sale of animals in pet shops remains legal.

  • Queensland has implemented a Breeder ID system and since May 2017 anyone who advertises a puppy for sale must display their 'Breeder ID number' including in all online ads.

   New standards and guidelines came into effect on 1 October 2018. Key points include:

  • There are no caps on dog numbers allowed to be kept on QLD puppy factories.

  • There are no litter limits and breeding dogs can legally be bred from their first season 6-9 months (as long as they are 'physically mature, fit, healthy') until they cannot physically produce any more puppies.

  • Cruel back-to-back breeding allowed.

  • Legal to kill dogs that are no longer required by the puppy farmer.

  • Anyone in charge of the dogs at the puppy factory can kill dogs no longer required by any means as long as its 'humane'. There is no requirement for a vet to be called. 

  • No time requirements for exercise, socialization or enrichment as long as its 'once a day'.

  • Soft bedding is not a requirement.

New South Wales 

  • Puppy factories remain legal as does the sale of animals in pet shops.

  • Code of Practice isn't linked to any legislation that triggers its use; therefore puppy factories can operate without any inspections for many years, some have never been inspected. The industry in NSW is mainly self-regulated.

  • There are no caps on dog numbers, and no caps on litter limits.


Victoria (the leading state is animal welfare)

  • The first state in Australia to ban the sale of animals in pet shops unless they are from a registered shelter, rescue group or pound. This law came into effect on 1 July 2018.

  • The first state in Australia to introduce a cap on dog numbers and a limit on how many litters a dog can have. From April 2018 all Dogs Victoria (pedigree dogs)  must not replace breeding stock and must start to phase down to 10 females by 2020. 

  • First state in Australia to legislate a mandatory vet health check for every dog prior to breeding and post whelping.

  • Implemented a public searchable online Pet Exchange Register. Anyone who wants to sell a companion animal must register their details and their 'breeder ID' number must be placed in all online adds. No breeder ID = no ad can be placed.

  • Penalties apply to any online trading site who allows ads to be published without a pet exchange register number. The Pet Exchange Register commences 1 July 2019.

  • ALL dog Breeders with 3 or more entire dogs, not registered with Dogs Victoria from 2019 MUST be Government audited and must comply to the legislation.

  • Government registered breeders are capped on breeding females subject to Audit outcomes.

  • Victoria has the strictest legislation in all states of Australia.

  • Victorian Government registered breeders promote animal welfare and are enforced to do so by State Government.

South Australia  

  • Introduced a Code of Practice in 2017.

  • The code has many loopholes, including allowing a puppy farmer to kill their breeding dogs by any means except drowning and as long as it "causes death or unconsciousness as rapidly as possible".

  • The code also allows breeding dogs to be confined for 23 hours 30 minutes daily.

  • Allows for the sale of animals in pet shops.

  • Introduced mandatory de-sexing of all pups and kittens born after July 2018 (exemptions apply for registered breeders and working dogs).

  • SA Labor, currently in opposition, have committed to implementing similar legislation to Victoria and Western Australia if they win the March 2022 election.

Western Australia  

  • Second state to pass legislation banning the sale of puppies in pet shops and cracking down on puppy factories. The Dog Amendment (Stop Puppy Farming) Bill 2021 passed in early 2022.


  • Puppy factories are legal.

  • The sale of animals in pet shops is legal.

  • There is no cap on the numbers of dogs kept on puppy factories.

  • The legislation states that puppy farmers must have a specific area on the property where they can take the dogs to be killed.

  • Dogs cannot be killed in front of other dogs or other people unless the person killing the dog agrees to allow people present.


  • Introduced a Code of Practice and a 'breeders license' system in 2015.

  • Sale of animals in pet shops still allowed within the ACT.

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