Where to find a breeder you can trust

Genuine interest in dogs









Your local “puppy mom”


This is the person who owns a Yorkie or a Maltese and simply wants to have a litter of Morkies.

This person does not make tons of money from this, and may breed the Yorkie or the Maltese to the other, once or twice in a lifetime. Very different from what the pet industry calls the “backyard breeder” who’s essentially a small-scale puppy mill.

You’ll find someone like this in your local newspaper or ads at the grocery store or Vet’s. Key to ensuring that this isn’t a puppy mill, is meeting the seller in person and seeing the facilities.

If the seller isn’t willing for you to see where the puppy was born and raised, or wants to meet you at a coffee shop or mall – RUN! These are sure signs of puppy mill brokers.

TIP: check out FidoSavy.com and their information on adopting.

Find a great breeder

How to recognize a responsible breeder:

  • Has no more than 2 or 3 breeds of dogs or cats
  • Has clean and spacious facilities with an exercise area for the animals
  • Does not breed animals that are too young or too old
  • Puppies or kittens are raised indoors, kept clean, warm, well fed and don’t go to new homes before 8 weeks of age
  • Provides regular Veterinary care for all their animals
  • Asks you questions about your lifestyle to ensure a good match between you and your pet
  • Has healthy animals and will discuss inheritable disorders in the breed
  • Provides, at no extra charge, valid paperwork to show the puppy has had his first vaccinations, worming, etc.
  • Asks the buyer to sign an agreement about treating the dog well
  • Provides a health guarantee

RIGHT: A bad sign – this is no doubt a puppy mill or backyard breeding operation, where dogs are abused and mistreated.

How to spot an unethical breeder:

  • Has run-down or crowded facilities
  • Is reluctant to show you their place
  • Has dirty, unhealthy, and/or unsocialized animals
  • Sells animals without vaccinations, Veterinary checkups or guarantees against genetic defects
  • Doesn’t allow you to come and meet the pet before purchase
  • Will not take the dog back should a health problem arise

Two worst places to buy a dog or puppy

When it comes to getting a new puppy or an older dog, PET STORES are the worst.  Buying online without seeing the dog first, is almost as bad, and chances of being scammed online are very high.

Buying a puppy online – sight unseen – is a recipe for heartbreak

Besides being a hotbed of scams, pet buying online without “due diligence” is guaranteed to get you a puppy mill dog, if you get a dog at all.

Due diligence means (a) visiting the pet first; (b) getting references from other buyers and checking them out and (c)drilling down on the internet to learn all you can about the seller.

There are several ways unscrupulous people get your money for nothing:

  • advertising a dog that doesn’t exist
  • switching dogs from the one shown in the ad, to a different, sickly animal
  • free puppy – but you are asked to pay very high shipping costs. The dog never arrives. As the DogInfoCentre says, “These scammers are usually running out of foreign countries, posing as USA or Canadian breeders selling adorable little puppies, when in fact they don’t even own a dog themselves, let alone have a puppy to sell.”
  • These scammers even create elaborate websites to advertise the non-existent pets they’re selling.

Be extra cautious of ads found in free classified ad sites such as Kiijii and Craigslist. You don’t have to avoid sites that run free listings — there are some legit ads on them– but do be extra cautious, because scammers feed on free places to find their prey. Just like online breeders, visit and do your research.

Read on to learn how to avoid puppy mill dogs and dog-selling scams. 

Worst Choice: Pet Store Dogs

The. Worst. Place. To. Buy. A. Puppy. Period.

pet store puppies

Dogs and puppies for sale at pet stores come from despicable puppy mill operators.

You can be sure that the pups you see in a pet store, at a farmers market or flea market, are from a puppy mill.

No dog breeder or even amateur, who cares about animals, would allow them to be put in a pet store for sale. Pet stores are noisy, over-lit, crowded and unsanitary. Cages are crammed and puppies have little chance to sleep.

Many States in the U.S. are outright banning the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores.

Please note: this doesn’t include the “adoption days” or efforts that reputable stores like PetSmart host. At these events, the store works with the local shelter or humane society, to publicize the need for forever homes for pets. Dogs and cats come in for just the day.

Dogs in Pet Stores are treated very poorly.


All dogs in petstores come from puppy mills

Don’t be tricked by criminals “selling” dogs

DOG & PUPPY Selling Scams

Scam #1 - Switching Pictures

A common trick of swindlers selling dogs online, is to run an ad that features a gorgeous-looking little dog for sale. Should you buy and actually receive a dog, you’ll notice that your puppy looks nothing like the one you saw.

That’s because the scammer has stolen pictures from a legitimate person’s website and portrayed these as his. Usually, the actual dog is a reject from a puppy mill, or …. there’s no dog at all.

dog selling scam 

Scam #2 - "Registered" designer dogs

This is a one that’s designed to push up the price of your Morkie puppy. As much as we love Morkies, they are not purebred dogs. They cannot be registered with any Kennel Club, anywhere in the world.

“NO reputable registry would let you register a mixed breed dog. If you found a registry that would, the papers would be worthless.”

-from the American Kennel Club

There are several new organizations who claim to register the new cross-breed or designer dogs. Although their intentions may be good — for example, to track mixed breed dogs — there’s simply no way to keep liars and scammers out. All that’s needed is your signature to declare the dog’s a Morkie (or whatever. )

International Designer Canine Registry (IDCR)

According to their website:



“The IDCR provides fully certified registration papers and benefits to all Purebred, Designer or Hybrid dogs regardless of the dog’s current registration status “

“Registration with the IDCR shows the pride breeders take in their breeding program and adds validity to the statement that designer dogs are more than just a “mixed breed” breeding but rather that a great deal of thought, time, care and expense is often put into a breeding program focusing on designer breeds.”

They offer certificates with up to 5 generations of dogs for $50 and also sell online ads for breeders who are selling mixed breeds.

However there are no checks on the information you provide; above your signature, it says “I do hereby certify that I am the true owner of the described dog above and that all the information on this application is correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.” That’s it.

Compare this to the complex procedures for registering a dog with the American Kennel Club here.

AKC registration form

Complex requirements to register a puppy with the American Kennel Club… on TOP OF registering your Kennel, which is a lengthy and legalistic procedure. Obviously this can’t compare to “fill out a form and send it in” type of registries for mixed breeds.

More designer dog registries

The Designer Dog Registry 

The National Hybrid Dog Registry

Designer Dogs Kennel Club

The American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC).

ALAA Australian Labradoodle Association of America

International Dog Breeder’s Association

Scam #3 - Free to a good home

Free to good home

Free or super cheap Morkies. This one really hurts, because in all likelihood, there isn’t even a Morkie involved.

Instead, the fraudsters lure you in on price or “free” and when the hook has been set, they ask you to pay for shipping, which is suspiciously consistent at $400.

Buyers are asked to send payments via a Western Union wire transfer or money order. This is a favourite among crooks because it’s the equivalent of sending cash– the money can’t be traced and recovered by the victim.

You send the money off – and unknown to you, it usually goes to another country – and the dog, of course, never arrives. You can’t get your money back because you sent it with Western Union.


free to a good home scam

Scam #4 - Fake Morkie Rescue

The ASPCA has identified another despicable trick. Sellers put up a website featuring pictures of terrible animal abuse, and claim they are rescuing dogs from a puppy mill or even another country like North Korea, where dogs are regularly eaten.

There’s no rescue; they ARE the puppy mill, and the dogs are sickly, weak and nervous. Instead of doing a good thing by helping dogs, you end up with heartbreak on your hands.

You can tell this is a scam when you see the price tag — the “adoption fees” or shippping for these dogs often exceeds $1,000!

Breed rescue groups charge nominal fees – usually no more than $300, because their goal is to find good homes for their rescues, not make money.

How to spot a fake adoption group

fake dog rescue groupsBreed rescue groups online tug at our heartstrings, but too often they’re just a front for cast-off dogs from puppy mill operations.

Petfinder tells us:

“For-profit breeders have increasingly tried to take advantage of the public’s desire to adopt homeless pets by posing as rescue groups, even using the term ‘adopt’ when selling their, all too often, puppy-mill-raised pups”  — says Kim Saunders, Petfinder’s vice president of shelter outreach.

How can you spot the fakes?

1. Is the group listed on Petfinder?

Breeders aren’t allowed to list on Petfinder; and all the adoption groups on Petfinder have been carefully screened and are legitimate.

2. Does the “rescue group” list mainly purebred or designer dog breeds — all puppies?

Puppies are outnumbered by adult dogs for legitimate adoption, by about 8:1. So you should see 8 adult dogs for every puppy available, not the other way around. Seeing a pet listing with lots of purebred puppies and few or no adults or seniors may be a warning sign.

3. What services are included with an adoption fee?

Legitimate rescue groups and shelters will be able to tell you the basics about the dog’s health and history. They adopt out dogs that are up-to-date on shots; neutered; and seen by a vet.

4. Can they answer your questions, like “where is the dog currently housed and can I visit him?”

“Can I meet the pet before I adopt him?” A no to either of these questions should start alarm bells ringing. This is not a real adoption or rescue group.

5. Does the group interview YOU?

Real rescues want to be sure their dogs are going to a forever home. They try to match owner to dog and are protective of their animals. Most require written applications and even references. Fakes just want cash or a certified check.

Scam #5 - Dog Flipping

No dog is safe. Thieves will hop the fence or break into your locked yard, grab your dog and be gone.

You’ll never see your dog again, because they’ll SELL HIM ONLINE.

You could actually end up seeing YOUR DOG’S face on a site like craigslist (here’s a true story of just that).

Meanwhile, if you unknowingly buy one of these stolen dogs, you could end up embroiled in a legal mess through no fault of your own.

Another version: the fake dogcatcher

People posing as enforcement officers will approach the family and tell them they are breaking some obscure dog law or another. If they don’t pay a hefty fine on the spot, their dog will be taken away.

If the dog IS taken, that’s when he’s flipped on craigslist.

AARP recommends that you call the police – don’t trust the fraudster’s official looking badge or papers; those are easy enough to make. Chances of a legit group coming to your door demanding cash are zero. 

More on fake animal control.


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