How to Spot a Backyard Breeder

With the rise in popularity of the Belgian Malinois breed it is important to be wary of Backyard Breeders. Below are a few tips on how you can make sure you avoid Backyard Breeders when looking to add to the family!

Bonnie and Puppies Malinois

The “breeder” tells you the puppies can leave their mother before 8 weeks. Puppies develop vital behavioral and social skills in their first few weeks by staying close to mom. At this critical age the puppies learn how to socialize with their littermates and develop emotional stability by being close to their mother and siblings. In most cases, puppies aren’t weaned until AT LEAST 8 weeks and most reputable breeders will not allow puppies to leave until about 10 weeks. To a backyard breeder, the sooner they’re gone, the better. If a breeder suggests that you can bring the puppy home before 8 weeks it should be a major red flag!

The “breeder” does not allow you to visit the puppy. If this is the case, it is likely that the breeder does not want you to see the conditions the litter is living in. As mentioned before, the first few weeks are vital to the development of the puppies. Reputable breeders invest a significant amount of time and funds to ensure puppies have sanitary and sufficient living conditions to include whelping beds, crates, puppy pens, and quality kibble. Backyard breeders might isolate the puppies, leave them in unclean pens, or not provide them with quality/sufficient food.


The “breeder” does not screen potential adopters. Backyard breeders are just trying to offload puppies as quickly as possible to make a quick dollar. They are not concerned with the well-being of the dogs and ensuring they go to a good home and to the right owners. Reputable breeders will screen potential owners for experience with the breed, lifestyle, type of home, income, etc. to find the right fit for each of their puppies. If the breeder you are working with isn’t asking any of these questions, run!

The “breeder” doesn’t allow you to see the parents. Parents can tell you a lot about the prospective puppy you are considering such as size, behavior, and breed lines. If a breeder is unwilling or cannot provide pictures of the parents it is likely because they don’t know and don’t care.

The “breeder” does not provide any contract or documentation. A reputable breeder will require a signed contract outlining expectations and have documentation of any vet visits and associated paperwork. This provides the new owners with assurance that the dog is healthy and up to date with vaccinations and shows the breeder’s care for the dogs and the homes they are going to. If the breeder doesn’t provide a contract or documentation on the dog’s health then you, as a potential owner, take a huge risk!