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What is a backyard breeder? Why is is so important to be educated about unethical breeding practices? How do we save puppies from backyard breeders?

There are many questions to ask when it comes to unethical breeding and backyard breeders. These practices are harming the breed we love and causing heartache and headaches for rescues and families.

You might be surprised to find that the AKC is riddled with backyard breeders. Having AKC registration is not a sign that the puppy is healthy, well-bred, or even pure-bred!

Yeah, we’re going to go there. If you are looking for a Great Dane puppy, this post is for you.


What Is A Backyard Breeder?

Many people believe that all home breeders are backyard breeders (because they ‘breed dogs in their backyard’).

This is actually a matter of nuance in language. The term “backyard breeder” has a very broad meaning.

A “backyard breeder” refers to any individual who breeds puppies without committing to the necessary measures for ensuring the full health testing, structure, temperament, breed standards, and overall well-being of the puppies throughout their lives, regardless of where they end up.

There are MANY friendly, nice “backyard breeders” who claim to health test their puppies.

They may even raise them indoors around kids and farm animals. It’s likely they even have a website and are recommended by others who are looking to purchase a Great Dane puppy.

But they are cutting corners somewhere, and THAT is what makes them a backyard breeder!

It doesn’t matter how clean the facility is, or how nice the breeder is.

Make no mistake, if they are breeding out of standard dogs, dogs with poor structure and temperaments, breeding dogs without FULL OFA health testing (see HERE), and not supporting those puppies for life, they are a backyard breeder.

Like we said above, the AKC has thousands of them.

Backyard breeders are more common than puppy mills, but despite their ‘friendly’ exterior they do a LOT more damage.

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What is the AKC?

AKC is one of the most recognizable acronyms in the dog world.

They document pedigrees by giving breeders a place register their purebred litters. They also offer a range of services from dog shows & conformation to sports, advocacy and training certifications.

You can learn more about the AKC here.

One International version is FCI, you can learn more about them here. 

Others exist as well, some are good, others are a place for bad breeders to get ‘papers’ for their dogs with unknown or mixed-breed lineage.

The word ‘papers’ is now actually relatively meaningless because of this. AKC registrations are a wonderful way to document and see the pedigree (lineage) of a dog. They are important, but they aren’t everything.

AKC papers do NOTHING to monitor if the dogs who have ‘purebred’ registrations even meet the standard for the breed they claim to be. This is how we’ve ended up with millions of Great Danes whose structure is so poor they suffer from orthopedic disorders. Their eyes are so droopy they need surgery to correct it. Their heads so big and jowls so droopy they look more like Mastiffs than Great Danes.

Not to mention the litany of health and temperament issues that come from breeders who are pairing dogs just because they happen to be ‘purebred’.

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Technically, Only Purebred Dogs Can Be AKC Registered

Mixed breed dogs and dogs with unknown lineage cannot be registered with the AKC.

If a breeder is trying to sell you a ‘Danoodle’ or ‘Labradane’ with ‘papers’, know that the papers are probably from a made-up or low quality dog registry.

The AKC does try to maintain standards and educate breeders and buyers. However, having AKC papers is NOT enough to prove the quality of a genetic line or dogs against the written standard.

Remember the game ‘telephone’?

You sit in a circle with your friends. The first person whispers a phrase to the next person, who then takes that phrase and whispers it to the person next to them. The phrase makes its way around the circle.

The phrase may have begun as ‘I like to eat cake’ , but always ends with something completely different and usually funny. ‘I think you are fake’ for example.

The practice of breeding a Great Dane simply because it has ‘AKC Papers’ can create entire lines of registered, purebred Great Danes that look very little like Great Danes. Just like the game of telephone that we played as children!

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Purebred Does Not Mean Well Bred

Of course, we are major dog and breed snobs over here, but even as a not-snobby pet owner you should care deeply about this breed.

Poorly bred dogs are more likely to suffer from health problems, including painful, frustrating and expensive conditions such as allergies, hip dysplasia, cardiac disease, aggression, fear, blindness/deafness and autoimmune disorders.

Careless breeders are everywhere, and they breed dogs purely for profit, not because they care about health.

There are many purebred Great Danes suffering from health conditions that are largely preventable with selective breeding, including poor hips, bloat, heart disease, entropion, and more.

These disorders shorten the life span of Great Danes and contribute to the unfortunate reality that these giant dogs are both short lived and fragile.

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So, How Can I Avoid Backyard Breeders?

In no way are we saying that imperfect Great Danes don’t deserve a home, or that your imperfect Dane isn’t good enough. (Truth! Ask me about my dainty three-legged Dane! I love the underdogs).

What we are saying, however, is that AKC papers can mean surprisingly little in the world of ethical breeding practices.

AKC Papers do not mean that a dog was bred with health and structure and temperament in mind.

They do not mean that a Great Dane exemplifies the appropriate health and structure of the breed.

Having AKC registrations is not a sign that a dog is of sound breeding quality and should be bred.

It is important to find Great Dane breeders who are:

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No, You Don’t Need a Show Dog

It would be super snobby and misguided for us to say that everybody should have a perfect, beautiful show dog and expect nothing less.

We don’t believe that. We believe that there are breeders out there creating wonderful pet dogs. 

What we encourage you to be very educated on, however, is the difference between a backyard, unethical breeder and one that truly cares about the health and temperament of the dogs they are creating.

Stop buying dogs from backyard breeders! Every time you support a breeder who doesn’t care about structure, health and temperament you support an industry that is creating thousands of dogs who eventually end up euthanized or in rescue.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

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