Breeders Warehouse Mother Dogs and Dock Their Puppies’ Tails—and Other Reasons Never to Buy an Animal

Buying a dog is a choice, but it’s the worst possible choice. Buying from a breeder—who could be anyone from a puppy mill owner in another state to a local “backyard” breeder selling dogs on Craigslist to your neighbor who forgot to spay their now-pregnant dog—while millions of dogs are in need of a safe, loving home is a deadly decision that fuels the companion animal overpopulation crisis. Dog breeders know it, but they don’t want you to know. Too bad for them, then, that PETA’s laying it all bare.

Why is dog breeding cruel?

1. Tail Docking and Ear Cropping

Don’t be fooled by euphemisms that breeders use for mutilation, like “docking” and “cropping.”

Man cutting tail off of puppy while mother dog tries to comfort

“Is it cruel to dock a dog’s tail?” YES. Dogs “talk” with their tails. They use them for balance. Tail docking is typically done when puppies are just a few days old, without anesthetics to numb the pain. It’s a standard practice among breeders, who typically subject specific dog breeds to the torturous amputation. A PETA undercover investigation revealed that the owner of a Michigan puppy-breeding operation severed and twisted off puppies’ tails with forceps and cut off their dewclaws (which have bones in them, like humans’ thumbs) with nail clippers, all without pain relief—and all as the puppies screamed in agony. This one’s mother could do nothing but watch helplessly.

Dog With Infected Cropped Ears

“Why would you crop a dog’s ears?” The answer is that you shouldn’t. But some breeders crop dogs’ ears anyway, often without pain relief and usually when they’re only 8 to 12 weeks old, when the trauma of the procedure can have a strong psychological impact on them. The process of cutting off parts of dogs’ ears or taping and re-taping them to force the remaining stumps to stand erect can be agonizing—and dangerous. PETA and animal control got involved after an animal advocate reported seeing this pit bull puppy—who had crusty, bloody, infected ears following an apparent ear-cropping procedure—confined to a Virginia yard without any shelter. In another instance, a breeder who performed painful ear-cropping procedures on dogs using razor blades and sold the pups to celebrity clients was convicted of cruelty to animals.

2. Denying Dogs Potentially Lifesaving Surgeries

Spaying and neutering dogs means no new puppies—but for breeders, that mean no profits, and using dogs’ reproduction to make a profit is what defines a breeder.


There are many important benefits to spaying or neutering, and breeders deny the dogs they victimize all of them, proving that they care more about profit than animals’ well-being. Benefits include reducing dogs’ risk of developing testicular cancer or ovarian and uterine cancer and other diseases, mammary cancer, and pyometra (which Nina, pictured here, was suffering from before our our mobile clinic staff intervened, performing a free spay surgery that would’ve cost up to $1,500 at a private veterinary clinic), which are often life-threatening and require expensive surgery and treatment. Sterilization also prevents more unwanted dogs from being born into a world that’s already teeming with discarded animals, thereby shrinking the number of dogs dumped on the streets or having to be euthanized in shelters. And it can reduce or eliminate behavior like aggression, urine marking, and male dogs’ propensity to roam or fight, too, thus preventing potential injuries and early deaths.

3. Exploiting Motherhood

Breeders force dogs to reproduce repeatedly, including via artificial insemination, churning out litter after litter, then tearing their puppies away from them. Those who breed bulldogs often forcibly inseminated females because their hips are too narrow to allow them to mate, and French bulldog mothers have to deliver via C-section because their hips are too small for puppies’ large heads to fit through the birth canal.

Female dogs used for breeding are bred over and over until they can no longer produce puppies—at which point they’re sold or sometimes killed. At this Michigan Jack Russell terrier–breeding operation, a PETA investigator observed that nursing dogs and their puppies were confined to wooden boxes with urine-soaked straw inside a reeking, cluttered carport.

This mother dog surrounded by her hungry puppies was observed at Nielsen Farms, a puppy mill in Kansas, by a PETA investigator who worked there for months and documented that mother dogs went mad from confinement and loneliness, circling frantically in their small cages and pacing ceaselessly back and forth—their only way of coping with their despair.

4. A Fetish for ‘Pure Bloodlines’

Flattened muzzles, unnaturally shaped skulls, elongated backs—breeders churn out more and more dogs to match supposed desired looks or to be status symbols, even at the expense of dogs’ health and lives.

Dogs don’t care about bloodlines, but breeders do. They believe that dogs with pedigrees reign supreme, and they go to deadly lengths to produce these unnatural designer breeds. Rottweilers, for instance, have an unusually high incidence of bone cancer. Dalmatians are genetically predisposed to deafness. French bulldogs (like this one, who was killed when her owner allegedly bred her and then paid a sham veterinarian $650 to perform an illegal, at-home C-section) can barely breathe because they’re deliberately bred to have flat faces. Breeders are fully aware of these genetic problems, yet they remain steadfast in their obsession with “purebreds.”

5. Fueling the Overpopulation Crisis

With millions of dogs—both “purebreds” and mutts—already in need of homes, every puppy sold by a breeder means a lost opportunity for a dog waiting in a shelter for a loving family to go home to.

Breeders like the owner of JRT John’s Jack Russell Terriers—who brings puppies into a country that’s already bursting at the seams with an estimated 70 million homeless dogs and cats struggling to survive—can’t be counted on to do the right thing, which means it’s imperative that dogs and other animals always be able to count on the rest of us to adopt.


Here’s another reason why dog breeding is cruel: When dogs are treated as commodities and a source of income, corners are often cut to maximize profits. At some operations, breeders keep dogs in poor living conditions, isolate them, and deny them necessary veterinary care. PETA’s own undercover investigation into Michigan breeding hellhole JRT John’s Jack Russell Terriers revealed the ongoing and unabated suffering of dogs who are bred and sold to the public. Our investigator documented that dozens of frantic, drenched Jack Russell terriers are confined to cramped outdoor pens and left to shiver in the bitter cold 24/7, without adequate protection from single-digit wind chills. The dogs’ water freezes every day.

When PETA’s investigator removed the ice for them and gave them fresh water, the kennel’s owner said to stop it because it was “not needed”! When they were finally given water, the dogs drank immediately—even for over a full minute.

One afternoon, PETA’s investigator found a lone dog dead in his kennel. The operation’s owner had no idea the dog had died—apparently, he hadn’t checked on his dozens of animals since the day before.

PETA’s investigator found this dog dead in a kennel with leaves and straw packed inside his mouth. In the 11 weeks that our investigator worked at JRT John’s Jack Russell Terriers, they never saw the kennel owner touch any of the dogs housed outside except to pick up this dead one.

PETA’s cruelty caseworkers can attest to the fact that the tragic conditions our investigators observed at JRT John’s Jack Russell Terriers and Nielsen Farms are typical of the hundreds of breeding operations throughout the Midwest and other areas of the country as well as of “backyard” breeders, like those who have bred Teetee (below) repeatedly.

This neglected dog named Teetee has been bred over and over again and her puppies sold for a measly profit despite PETA’s offers to spay her for free.

Laws meant to regulate dog breeding offer little protection and are often poorly enforced.

Please, Never Support the Cruelty of Dog Breeding

Your role in ending the suffering that the owner of JRT John’s Jack Russell Terriers and other breeders cause is simple: Never buy an animal—always adopt instead. Please, share this important plea with your family, friends, and other followers.

And click below to take just 30 seconds to make a vital, lifesaving difference for dogs used and abused at JRT John’s Jack Russell Terriers: Join PETA in urging local law enforcement to seize these dogs immediately and file felony cruelty charges to help ensure that dogs never again suffer in the owner’s hands.

Desperate Dogs Warehoused by Breeder Need Our Help

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind