Backyard Breeders (BYB)

What is the fuss? Why is buying from a BYB considered bad by people “in the know”?

Let’s get one thing straight before we go any further, if your bitch has or had a litter of pups YOU ARE A BREEDER.

The next step is to figure out what type of breeder. There are basically three types of breeders:

  • Ethical (Preservation) Breeders
  • Backyard Breeders (BYB)
  • Puppy Farmers

These days people generally group BYBs and puppy farmers together and label them all BYB. Let’s look at the differences between them.


Puppy Farmer

These breeders are the worst type of them all. They use their dogs as puppy producing machines. Many times the dogs are in horrendous shape, sick and hungry. They live in cages and don’t know human touch or love. It’s these breeders that you hear from every now and again when the SPCA confiscated a large number of dogs from a breeder and had to put down some or most of them because it would just be too cruel to let them suffer any further.

These breeders also tend to breed with KUSA registered dogs – to get better prices for their KUSA registered puppies. These breeders will never allow you near their premises to meet the parents. You will probably meet them somewhere to collect your puppy.

They don’t care for the animals at all. They care for the money they bring in. Many of the pups they sell don’t make it to 12 months old before they get very sick and die.

Buying from them might save the one puppy you buy, but by doing that, you are enabling the person to carry on torturing the poor animals in his/her “care”, causing the suffering of endless dogs in future. They need to be reported and shut down.


Backyard Breeder

A backyard breeder need not be a Puppy Farmer. They can and mostly do love their dogs. However, loving the dogs you breed with does not make you an ethical breeder.

A Backyard breeder is anyone who produces one or more litters of pups in any of the following ways:

  • The owner of the litter is not a KUSA registered breeder
  • One or both parents are not KUSA registered
  • One or both parents are not fully grown
  • All the required health tests for the breed were not done on one or both of the parents
  • The parents are not the same breed
  • One or both parents are considered a senior
  • No consideration for the pedigree of the parents was taken, i.e. the genetics that the pups will inherit from their ancestors. This includes health, temperament, conformation (build), colour and inbreeding.
  • There is no list of pre-approved homes for the pups before they are born and puppies are advertised on Social Media, Gumtree, Junkmail, etc.
  • No consideration of the Breed Standard and whether the pups they produce will be closer to the Standard than the parents or further away (How does my dog compare to the blueprint of a Great Dane?).
  • Purposefully breeding Hyper Type or Euro Type dogs and selling them as “superior” to other Great Danes
  • They send the pups off to their new homes before they are 8 or 9 weeks old
  • They will allow or even encourage people to take two pups from the same litter (why is this a problem?)
  • They breed to produce non-standard colours and whites

Most Backyard breeders do love their dogs and their dogs are mostly family pets. They will probably invite you to their home and proudly show you their dogs.

The problem is that they don’t have the in depth knowledge of the breed or the money to breed properly and are producing puppies that will probably have hip and/or elbow problems, Wobblers, Entropia, DCM or other issues linked to Great Dane health (see health issues). They probably also don’t breed for temperament, so chances are that you are buying a puppy that can become a very large problem. They don’t screen the puppy buyers and many of their puppies end up in a rescue at a later stage in their life.

They probably are not bad people, but what they are doing is not beneficial to the breed, the puppy buyer, the puppies themselves or Rescues.


Ethical Breeders

These are the people that take the flack for all the bad things the other two types of breeders do. Many “Adopt don’t Shop” activists don’t distinguish between the hundreds of BYBs and Puppy Farmers whose dogs fill the animal shelters and the very few ethical preservation breeders whose dogs never end up in shelters. They paint all breeders as bad.


An ethical breeder obviously does not do any of the things listed under BYB or Puppy Farmer. Further to that, they do the following:


An ethical breeder has studied the Breed Standard and can compare a dog to the Standard and see the faults and good points in the dogs. They study pedigrees of studs before they decide on the right one to use on their bitch, to build on the strong points in the bitch and reduce the faults. This includes health history and temperament, not only conformation. Many times this means they have to spend loads of money to import a dog or import frozen semen, to increase the gene pool and reduce inbreeding.


They only use dogs that have at the very least been screened for hip and elbow dysplasia and found good enough to breed with. They keep waiting lists of puppy buyers that they screened beforehand and once the puppies are born, they allocate pups to people based on the emerging temperament of each puppy and the type of home it should go to. They sell these pups on contract and with breeding restrictions to their approved owners. They keep in touch with their puppy owners and are always available to give advice and support. If the owner cannot keep the dog for whatever reason at whatever age, they will always take their dogs back and either keep then or find another suitable home for them. Their dogs will never remain in a shelter should they end up there.


Ethical breeders don’t breed for money (they spend money to breed). They breed to preserve the breed, to ensure that future generations can still have the breed as it is described in the Standard, maybe with less health issues than previous generations.