How To Find a Reputable Dog Breeder

Three puppies napping under a blanket

How To Find a Reputable Dog Breeder

Being a responsible dog breeder is more than just putting two cute dogs together in the back yard and letting Mother Nature run her course. Breeding any dog — purebred or mixed breed (AKA “designer”) should be taken seriously.

The physical & mental health of all dogs & puppies involved should be the breeder’s number one priority. Unfortunately, breeding dogs has become a big business and our country has become littered (pun intended) with backyard breeders & puppy mills who are only interested in making money. Shelters across the U.S. are filled to capacity with unwanted dogs, while unscrupulous people continue to breed for greed.

This is how it usually goes down… you’ve searched the internet, found a picture of an adorable puppy (which is probably not the actually dog you will get), you become immediately emotionally attached, and suddenly you can’t think of anything else but bringing this precious creature home. Unfortunately, this is literally what the breeder is banking on. He/she knows that as soon as you see the dog in person you will pick it up… look into its eyes… breathe in that unmistakable puppy smell & hand over as much money as it takes to make it your own.  Gotcha!

Irresponsible breeders feed off your heartstrings and will continue to do so in person, making it 1000x harder for you to walk awaywithout a puppy in your arms. You must prepare yourself BEFORE you meet the dog of your dreams.

How to prepare BEFORE you meet with a dog breeder:

Do some online research to determine which breeds will be the best match for your family dynamic and lifestyle. Here are some considerations:

  • Energy Level — do you want a couch potato, a dog that needs to run 2 miles on a daily basis, or a breed that is flexible and will enjoy doing either?
  • Adult Size — bigger dogs will be more expensive than small dogs in terms of food, grooming, toys & medicines.
  • Genetic Traits — for example, don’t get a Border Collie unless you have some serious mental & physical work for him to do all day long; they are genetically wired to herd, and will nip at your heels if there’s no one else to “round up”.
  • Grooming Needs — for example, Poodles need routine professional grooming.
  • General Temperament — don’t get a high-caliber dog like a Belgian Malinois unless you’re going to give it a serious job like personal protection (which requires specialize training).
  • Find someone that owns the same breed you’re considering and ask them about their dog. Better yet, spend some time with their dog!  Keep in mind that every dog has its own personality. Some behaviors can be modified; others are genetic.

Here are some signs that you’re dealing with an irresponsible dog breeder:
· The transaction (& that is all it is to them) must done be in cash.
· They will pick the dog for you.
· They insist you meet them in a public area. Who could ever turn down taking a puppy when strangers are walking by?
· You meet them at their house, but you don’t get to meet the puppy’s mother & father.
· The puppies/dogs are kept in a barn, garage or outside — instead of in the house with humans. Puppies must be properly handled (socialized) with calm and caring people from the very first day they start to hear and see, which is around 4-5 weeks old.
· The puppies are not kept with the mother dog. This is incredibly important for the first 8 weeks of a dogs life, when they receive required nourishment and behavior guidance from their mother. Getting a puppy that is less than 8 weeks old virtually guarantees health & behavioral issues that you may not be able to overcome.
· There are a lot of dogs on their property, and not necessarily of the same breed.
· There is little or no authentic paperwork regarding vaccinations, health guarantee, birth date, AKC paperwork, etc. This is very tricky because anyone can find bogus paperwork online or make their own.
· Once they have your money, all contact stops. If you reach out to them with questions & they actually respond, the answers will be vague and reassuring, regardless of the seriousness.
· They have a strict “no returns” policy which they rarely mention.
· Your gut instincts are raising a red flag but you’re not sure why.

Remember, these people are only concerned with making a sale, but you aren’t just purchasing a sweater… you’re making a life-long commitment to a new family member. Your brain and your heart must be in agreement.

Signs of a reputable dog breeder:
· You have a meaningful, thoughtful conversation on the phone. A responsible breeder will ask you why you want this particular breed; provide you breed-specific information; answer any questions you have; discuss your living dynamics like how active you are, if you have young children, how long the dog will be left alone while you work, etc. If you feel you’re being interviewed and/or “matched” with a specific dog, you’re on the right path!
· After the initial phone screening, you’re invited to come meet the litter, as well as the mother and/or father.  This is the best way for you to foresee the next 15+ years with a specific dog based on genetic characteristics like size, health, personality, temperament, grooming needs, behavior tendencies (like herding, hunting), etc.
· The mother and puppies are together inside the house — preferably in the kitchen, which is the noisiest & most high-traffic room in the home.
· You receive follow-up calls from the breeder within weeks or months to check on your dog’s health and temperament. Reputable dog breeders keep track of every puppy in the bloodline so that if a genetic health or behavioral issue arises, they stop breeding the same male and female.
· If you discover a severe health issue, the breeder will take the puppy back and/or refund your money. Health is their #1 priority.
· A reputable breeder will also insist that you spay or neuter your dog so the bloodline stays controlled and no unwanted dogs are born.
· A reputable dog breeder will give specific feeding, grooming, housebreaking, general care, & socialization instructions for your new puppy.