USDA and Breeders



Iowa state-licensed commercial breeders are those breeders in our state who keep more than 3 intact breeding dogs, any combination of males and females, and sell the offspring. These breeders sell their puppies directly to the public through ads, the internet, etc. Iowa’s state-licensed breeders are inspected by our State Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). Those inspection reports can be obtained from IDALS.


USDA Class A licensed commercial breeders are those breeders in our state, and elsewhere in the country, who can sell puppies wholesale, through a pet store or a broker/dealer (Class B USDA-license holder). The broker/dealer then sells the puppies to another distributor such as Hunte Corporation based in Goodman, Missouri, or to a pet store such as Petland. USDA-licensees may also sell puppies directly to the public. These breeders are required to follow the regulations set forth in the federal Animal Welfare Act.

USDA-licensed commercial breeders tend to be large scale breeding operations, many having more than 200 dogs per facility. The number of licensees fluctuates, but there are currently approximately 230 Class A breeders and Class B dealers in Iowa.

According to the USDA, at least 15,000 adult dogs are kept in Iowa’s USDA-licensed commercial kennels.

  • They are usually kept in wire or grate cages to allow for excrement to fall away from the surfaces of the living area.
  • In many kennels they are never taken out of those cages except for purposes of breeding or for other basic necessities.
  • The wire or grate floors of the cages can be painful to the dogs’ feet.
  • Dogs are often exposed to climate extremes without shelter from Iowa’s frigid winters or sweltering summers.
  • Many of the dogs are not provided adequate vet care or nutrition.
  • The females are bred over and over again, often at every heat cycle until their bodies wear out.
  • Because the breeder has a finite number of breeding dogs, inbreeding is often an issue.
  • The breeders sell the puppies to anyone who is willing to pay.
  • In most cases the breeder never meets the buyer because the puppy is sold through a broker or a pet store.
  • The stressful conditions of living in this environment, the inadequate exercise and nutrition, and lack of preventative vet care often results in puppies that are less than ideal, health-wise.
  • The puppies often have underlying temperament issues because they are not socialized with humans or with other dogs under normal circumstances.