Pet Shops, Puppy Mills, and Internet Insta-Pups

The evils of pet shops and puppy mills have been discussed in depth by major magazines and newspapers. Unfortunately, it seems that the appeal of the impulse buy is still strong enough that people will fall all over themselves to buy a puppy off the shelf. Or, in this day and age, click a few buttons and buy a puppy over the Internet.

Let us forget, for the moment, of the rampant health and temperament problems that pet shop/puppy mill dogs are notorious for. Let’s blithely ignore the filthy and cramped conditions breeding dogs in puppy mills suffer. Dwell not upon the fact that puppy mill puppies are undersocialized and placed in situations where they are forced to relieve themselves in their sleeping areas, making housebreaking hell on earth. Let’s even jettison the fact that pet shop staff are also usually ignorant of the needs and traits of the breeds they are marketing to an equally ignorant public.

One of the overlooked evils of obtaining a dog from these venues is that it begins the dog-owner relationship by treating the dog as a commodity that can be bought and sold without accountability. I believe that this encourages people to think of the dog as an item rather than a living being that they are now responsible for.

Yes, you pay breeders and you pay rescues. In these cases, your money is paying for the care they invested in the dog they are selling to you. A good breeder or rescue will have already invested hundreds of dollars in the dog that you are considering bringing into your life. They also are not going to treat their dog like an item you can just have for the waving of a Visa card.

The Internet is a great place to find out more information about Shibas and dogs in general. Unfortunately, it is also allowing irresponsible breeders and puppy mills to market and sell puppies online. A puppy mill can sanitize its image with fancy graphics and language, not to mention pictures of cute, clean puppies.

Their message is, “Why wait, when you can have a puppy NOW!” They take Paypal! Visa! Mastercard! Internet money transfer! How convenient! Don’t think, just BUY! Why the hell do you have a Visa if you’re not going to use it to buy a pup sight unseen?

While many reputable breeders advertise their dogs online, they are not going to just pop a puppy in a crate upon reception of an email inquiring about “teh price of UR Shebu Enus cuz their SO CUTE!” Many won’t ship their puppies at all, requiring owners to actually come for an interview. Others will ship upon the conclusion of an extensive correspondence and the favourable replies of references.

Some people are self-styled “rescuers”, excusing their purchase of a pet shop puppy as “rescuing it”. Yes, that puppy gets a better life – maybe, if the new owner can handle it. However, these people have nothing to pat themselves on the back for. Their money has just encouraged that pet shop to continue buying dogs from irresponsible breeders and puppy mills. There are thousands of dogs that continue to suffer because people won’t vote with their dollar and go somewhere else for a pet.

Other people complain that they “have no choice” since all the Shiba breeders don’t have puppies or because they want a puppy specifically for July 17 and can’t find one that will be the right age at that time. In my opinion, people who won’t wait for a puppy aren’t people who deserve one. The attitude that a dog is something that “should” be available at a moment’s notice is indicative that, to the buyer, the dog is just another item to add to their personal inventory, not a companion for life.

You do have a choice. You can buy on impulse and do your part to continue the cycle of suffering or you can wait and support people who actually care about the Shiba. And, yes, I think that your choice says a lot about your character.


  1. Hi, I don’t know if this is where I should be doing this, but I have a question about buying a Shiba. I have been trying to work how what kind of dog i want for about a year or 2. Well, my whole life, but seriously in the past year or so. I decided on the shiba about 6 months ago, and have been watching breeders websites etc. for a while now. However, there are no shiba breeders within a decent driving distance, and flying costs a lot. I have been trying to find breeders that I can drive to, but haven’t had much luck, so I have been considering internet buying. However, I feel very weird about it. I’ve always wanted to be able to go and see where a puppy is born/raised before I buy. It doesn’t really seem right to just give your money and receive an actual living dog in a crate. But I don’t really know what else to do at this point. How can a tell a decent breeder from a disguised puppy mill online? And if i can’t, how can I get a Shiba?
    Anyone’s help would be appreciated
    Thank you

  2. Two ways to tell a good breeder (generally) 1. National Shiba Club of America has a directory of approved breeders per state 2. Ask people what breeder they got theirs from and if they would recomend them, if you don’t know any locally you can either go to places like Dogster and talk to people on the Shiba forum or go to shiba meetups (try in your area and ask them, that would also let you see shibas in action and let you start a friend/ support base of shiba owners for after you get our dog.

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