Objective: To compare the owner-reported prevalence of behavioral characteristics in dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores with that of dogs obtained as puppies from noncommercial breeders.
Design: Cross-sectional study. Animals-Dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores (n = 413) and breeder-obtained dogs (5,657).
Procedures: Behavioral evaluations were obtained from a large convenience sample of current dog owners with the online version of the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, which uses ordinal scales to rate either the intensity or frequency of the dogs' behavior. Hierarchic linear and logistic regression models were used to analyze the effects of source of acquisition on behavioral outcomes when various confounding and intervening variables were controlled for.
Results: Pet store-derived dogs received significantly less favorable scores than did breeder-obtained dogs on 12 of 14 of the behavioral variables measured; pet store dogs did not score more favorably than breeder dogs in any behavioral category. Compared with dogs obtained as puppies from noncommercial breeders, dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores had significantly greater aggression toward human family members, unfamiliar people, and other dogs; greater fear of other dogs and nonsocial stimuli; and greater separation-related problems and house soiling.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Obtaining dogs from pet stores versus noncommercial breeders represented a significant risk factor for the development of a wide range of undesirable behavioral characteristics. Until the causes of the unfavorable differences detected in this group of dogs can be specifically identified and remedied, the authors cannot recommend that puppies be obtained from pet stores.