AKC-Registered: Registry with the American Kennel Club indicates that a puppy had two parents of the same breed. AKC registration does not guarantee a puppy will be in good health. Almost all puppies born in puppy mills are AKC-registered.
Animal Welfare Act:The Animal Welfare Act is a federal law that governs the humane care, handling, treatment and transportation of commercially bred dogs. It also governs the licensing of certain commercial breeders. Enforcement of the Act is the responsibility of a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) known as APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service)—but kennels are not inspected consistently. Puppy mill operators are usually allowed to remain in business while they remedy any violations.
Backyard Breeder: A dog owner whose pet gets bred by accident, or one who breeds intentionally for a variety of reasons. These might include a desire to make extra money, or to allow children to witness "the miracle of birth." The animals involved are usually not screened for genetic or health problems.
Breeding Female: A female dog who produces puppies in a commercial kennel. These dogs rarely have the chance to leave the puppy mill—they are killed, abandoned or sold to Class B dealers when they are no longer considered useful.
Breed: A group of related animals who are genotypically and phenotypically similar and produce physically similar offspring when mated.
Breeder: A person who breeds animals.
Breeding Stock: Dogs who are continually bred at commercial kennels. They generally live their entire lives in cages and receive little or no veterinary care. When their fertility diminishes, they are killed, abandoned or sold to Class B dealers.
Breed Standard: A set of guidelines that includes the ideal appearance of a particular breed.
Broker: Puppy brokers, also known as Class B dealers or puppy mill representatives, act as middlemen between breeders and purchasers. They buy puppies "in bulk" directly from puppy mills and sell them to retail outlets or research facilities, often shipping the dogs across state lines. Brokers must be licensed by the USDA and must abide by the shipping regulations outlined in the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Buncher: A person who takes puppy mill rejects—dogs not up to breed standards—and/or dogs advertised as "free to a good home" and sells them to Class B dealers, who will in turn sell them to industrial research laboratories.
Class A Dealers: Those licensed by the USDA to operate commercial kennels, or puppy mills, that produce dogs for "bulk" sale.
Class B Dealers: See Broker.
Commercial Kennel: While there is debate about whether dogs can be humanely bred in a commercial environment, commercial kennels are typically considered puppy mills. See Puppy Mill.
Consignment Auction: An auction by a puppy mill of the dogs it no longer wants—the typical buyers at these auctions are Class B dealers, bunchers and other puppy mills.
Culling: The killing of puppy mill puppies who, for various reasons, are considered unacceptable (twisted leg, coat or eye color not up to breed standard, misshaped ears, etc.).
Debarking: A controversial procedure in which a dog's vocal cords are severed so that he is unable to bark. In puppy mills, this procedure is often performed by smashing a puppy's vocal cords with a pipe.
Designer Dog: The intentional mating of two different purebred dogs to create a hybrid. Unlike many mixed-breed dogs, a designer dog has documented purebred ancestry. Designer dogs—such as the puggle and labradoodle—are increasing in popularity, and some puppy mills have started to mass produce them.
Dispersal Auction: An auction that occurs as a result of a puppy mill's closure. A dispersal auction may include equipment and tools as well as dogs. The typical buyers at these auctions are Class B dealers, bunchers and other puppy mills.
Docking: A general term used for both ear cropping and tail docking, which are cosmetic surgeries performed on dogs to conform to breed standards. These are painful, disfiguring processes often accompanied by risk of blood loss and infection. In puppy mills, docking is often performed by untrained individuals and simply involves the hacking off of ears and tails.
Ear Cropping: The cutting of a dog's ears to conform to an aesthetic or breed standard. This unnecessary surgery is often done by untrained individuals, without anesthesia, in unsterile environments.
Lemon Laws: Seventeen states have enacted "lemon laws" to protect consumers who have bought unhealthy puppies. The laws allow for purchasers to return a sick or dead puppy for a refund or replacement. Many state laws also offer the option of reimbursement of veterinary bills.
Litter: The offspring of an animal.
Pedigree: When the lineage of a purebred dog is recorded, that dog is said to be "pedigreed."
Puppy Mill: A commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given higher priority than the well-being of the dogs. Dogs are housed in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. The breeding stocks at puppy mills are bred as often as possible in order to increase profits. The animals bred in mills are typically sold via the Internet and to pet shops.
Purebred: A dog whose ancestry is formally registered and whose ancestors are of the same breed.
Stud: In a puppy mill, studs are male dogs who impregnate the breeder females. They are killed, abandoned or sold to bunchers or Class B dealers when they are considered no longer useful.
Tail Docking: The cutting of a dog's tail to conform to an aesthetic or breed standard. This cosmetic surgery is often done by untrained individuals, without anesthesia, in unsterile environments.