How to Find Reputable Dog Breeders

Buying purebred puppies from dog breeders seems like the right thing to do. But there is more to it than meets the eye.

Blind Newborn Puppy

While there is nothing wrong with adopting a mutt, a lot of dog owners want to get a purebred puppy or dog.

Most of these owners buy their pets from breeders and pet stores. A smaller number of dog owners adopt from a shelter or a local rescue group.

Adopting an abandoned pet is a noble act but, sometimes, finding the breed you are interested in is next to impossible.

Buying from a pet shop is not advisable. You see, that cute little puppy on the other side of a glass partition could be a product of a puppy mill. While it's not that puppy's fault where he was born, you may end up with a puppy that's not as healthy and not as pure as a puppy you can buy from a breeder.

That leaves us with the last option –– buying from a dog breeder. But even this is not as simple as it seems because a lot of puppy mills masquerade as dog breeders.  And some breeders are not as ethical as others.

So, the trick is not only to buy your pet from a breeder but to buy it from a responsible breeder.

Traits of Responsible Dog Breeders

If you are not sure where to begin your search for a dog breeder, don't worry. There are plenty of people and organizations that will be more than happy to help you.

Who are they? Try some of your local veterinarians, groomers, and boarding kennels. Even your friends and neighbors who own the same breed as the one you are thinking about getting may be able to help you. You could also try the local kennel club.

After you narrowed down your search to several dog breeders, use the following checklist to evaluate them...

  1. Never buy a puppy over the Internet. Meet the breeder before you buy. Avoid breeders who have a large number of dogs, especially if they live in outdoor kennels. This could be a commercial breeding operation, also known as a puppy mill, pretending to be a breeder.
  2. Good breeders keep their dogs in the home, not in outdoor kennels or runs.
  3. The breeder should be knowledgeable, and patiently answer all your questions, about the breed, including its temperament, potential health issues inherent to this particular breed, and the type of family it will do best with.
  4. Make sure a breeder you are considering buying from breeds not more than 2 breeds of dogs.
  5. A breeder should let you see the mother and the rest of the litter. All should look healthy and well taken care off. The puppies should be sociable and shouldn't appear to be afraid of the breeder.
  6. Good breeders care about their puppies and want to make sure they go to good homes. They will ask you to sign a contract specifying minimum requirements of how you will care for your new puppy. They will also require you to return the dog should you be unable to keep him for whatever reason.
  7. A breeder should encourage your whole family to participate in the puppy selection process.
  8. If a breeder is willing to let you take home a puppy that is under 8 weeks of age, look for another breeder. 8 weeks is a minimum age when a puppy should be separated from its mother. The actual age will depend on an individual puppy.
  9. A good breeder will provide references not only from his previous clients but also from his veterinarian.
  10. Responsible dog breeders feed their pets only high quality "premium" brand food.

    If you think the only difference between generic and premium brand dog food is in the price, think again. To discover the truth the dog food industry doesn't want you to know, and to learn what the best dog food for your pet is, I recommend this eBook -- Dog Food Secrets.
  11. Good breeders compete their dogs in conformation trials that judge how closely dogs match their "breed standard".
  12. Finally, a breeder should never pressure you to buy.
Newborn Puppy

What a Dog Breeder Should Require from You...

In addition to you evaluating a breeder, he or she should also make sure you are the right person for his or her puppies. Be prepared to answer some questions, such as:

  1. Why do you want a dog?
  2. What made you decide to get this particular breed of dog?
  3. Who in the family will be responsible for the pup's daily care? Does that person have experience with dogs?
  4. You also need to be prepared to answer questions about yourself, your lifestyle, and your family situation. The breeder may ask to meet your entire family.

Good dog breeders want to make sure their puppies are placed in loving homes with responsible owners. And they will go to great lengths to ensure this...

Before you Make the Final Decision...

You visited several dog breeders and found the one you feel comfortable buying from. Is there anything else you need to do?

By this time, you probably know a lot about the breed you want to buy. If that's not the case, try to learn as much as possible. There are plenty of resources on the Internet that provide breed specific information. I have a section on this site where I cover over 120 of the most popular dog breeds.

If you are still convinced that this is the right breed for you, here are some questions that will help you to get a better feel about the breeder you are thinking about buying from:

  1. Ask how long they have been into breeding this particular breed - the longer, the better.
  2. Are they registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) or any other major Kennel Clubs in the world?
  3. Ask if they require that you spay or neuter your new puppy. Most dog breeders will either require or suggest that you do. Visit dog spaying and dog neutering to learn more about these procedures.
  4. Do they provide a written guarantee against hereditary defects? Do they have a return policy if things don't work out? Will they refund your money or let you pick another puppy? All reputable dog breeders will at least let you pick another puppy.
  5. Ask if the parents had been screened for genetic diseases associated with their breed. Have the puppies had their first round of vaccinations? Which ones?

    After you bring your puppy home, I recommend you read and follow this Ultimate Guide to Dog Health eBook. You'll learn about vaccinations, how to administer first aid, how to recognize if your puppy is sick, and so much more.
  6. By now, you are probably aware of the temperament and characteristics of the breed. But what is the temperament of the puppy you are interested in? What is the temperament if its parents?
  7. Will the breeder answer your puppy-related questions after you buy the puppy?

I am sure you can think of more question you may want to ask. Responsible dog breeders will not mind answering any questions you may have.

Buying a puppy is a serious matter. Buy only from reputable dog breeders, and ask lots of questions... before you buy.

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