Using the mini C-BARQ to investigate the effects of puppy farming on dog behaviour

Laura Wauthier, Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA), Joanne Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High demand for dogs in countries like the UK can lead to illegal intensive breeding and illegal importation of puppies for the pet trade. The current study investigates the effects of intensive breeding or ‘puppy farming’ on canine behaviour, explores new ways of predicting negative outcomes and categorising dog behaviour, and probes whether various types of training or routines can mitigate these behavioural outcomes. Participants completed an online self-report questionnaire, combining a shortened version of the Canine Behavioural Assessment and Research Questionnaire (mini C-BARQ) (Duffy et al., 2014), with new scales created in collaboration with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA). 2,026 participants completed the questionnaire; most owners had dogs from non-puppy farm backgrounds (n = 1702), the rest had dogs from puppy farms (n = 123), or were unsure of the source of the dog (n = 201). We validated the mini C-BARQ as a tool for measuring dog behaviour, and explored its latent dimensions using factor analysis, extracting five first-order factors and one overarching second-order factor. We also confirm the validity of three of the four new scales developed with Scottish SPCA used to measure the impact of puppy farming practices. Linear and logistic regressions demonstrated that dogs from puppy farms have less desirable behaviours than dogs from other sources on 11 of the 14 behavioural subscales of the C-BARQ (for significant subscales, coefficients were between 0.1 and 0.2, and odds Ratios between 1.6 and 2.5). Generalized Linear Models (GLM) revealed the predictive power of two newly developed scales measuring early life experience in explaining variations in dog behaviour. In a GLM accounting for the dog’s early life experience (and controlling for variables like breed and age), dog-walking significantly reduced the incidence of undesirable behaviours (p < 0.001), while different types of training had a significant interaction with poor early life experience in moderating canine behaviour (p < 0.002). Finally, dogs from puppy farms had significantly worse medical scores than dogs from other breeding sources (U = 144,719, z = 7.228, p < 0.001). These results suggest that puppy farming has negative impacts on dog behaviours and health, while more research is necessary to fully explore how to mitigate the effects of poor early life experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Early online date31 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2018


  • canine
  • dog behaviour
  • mini C-BARQ
  • intensive breeding
  • puppy farming
  • bahavioural development

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