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How To Find A Reputable Dog Breeder

At A Glance

Before you can bring home a pet, you must go through the tedious task of finding a breeder. And while there are plenty of breeders to choose from, finding a reputable and ethical breeder is crucial.

Here’s what you should remember:

  • Knowing how to find a breeder can help you get a dog that meets your expectations.
  • A trustworthy breeder prioritizes health and temperament over the number of puppies produced.

Last Updated on: Jul 18, 2023

Looking for a pet that’ll fit perfectly into your home is essential. While shelters are an excellent option, you may not always find the breed or specifications you’re looking for. In such circumstances, going to a breeder can help. But how do you know which breeder is ethical? There are a few signs every potential pet parent must watch out for.

Unlike puppy mills, reliable breeders specialize in select breeds to provide the best possible care. They comply with breed standards and focus on nurturing the breed rather than making a profit. Additionally, they are transparent about their breeding approach.

These factors set them apart from unethical breeders or puppy mills who only look to make a buck or two at the expense of a dog’s poor health.

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Find A Reliable Breeder: Tips

As you embark on your quest for reputable dog breeders, remember to keep a discerning eye and specific criteria in mind. You can discern responsible and reputable breeders by the qualities they exhibit, from ethical breeding practices to a deep knowledge of breeds and a genuine love for their dogs. You can also use the following tips to guide you in your search.

Do Thorough Research

Use the power of the web to start your search. Check out online resources, breed-specific websites, and dog forums for information about reputable breeders in your area. Look for breeders with a positive reputation and a history of producing healthy and well-cared-for dogs.

Ask Trusted People For Recommendations

Seeking referrals is another way to find a reputable dog breeder. Laura Sharkey, Ph.D., KPA-CTP, SDC, says, “The best way to find a breeder is through a direct referral. If you have met a dog you like, ask where they came from, nothing tells you more about the dogs they produce than the dogs they produce.”

Reach out to other pet parents, local veterinarians, reputable dog trainers, etc. They can recommend reliable breeders or point you in the right direction.

Attend Dog Shows Or Events:

how to find a reputable dog breeder-attend dog shows or events


Attending dog shows or events allows you to meet reputable breeders and witness the breed’s standards and qualities firsthand. You can observe their dogs, ask questions, and assess a breeder’s knowledge and commitment to the breed. Take note of the dogs’ appearance, temperament, and overall behavior. These factors reflect the breeder’s dedication to producing dogs that exemplify the breed’s characteristics.

You can also engage with breed enthusiasts and fellow dog owners at these events for valuable insights and recommendations on trustworthy breeders within the community.

Visit The Breeder

According to Sara Austin, DVM, owner of Austin Veterinary Hospital, “A big red flag for me is if a breeder doesn’t invite a potential puppy buyer to meet the dogs and puppies on site.”

Visiting the breeder’s facilities will help you see firsthand how they raise and care for their dogs. Take note of the cleanliness, living conditions, and overall well-being of the animals. Reputable breeders always prioritize the health and socialization of their animals.

Ask For The Requisite Health Clearances

how to find a reputable dog breeder-ask for the requisite health clearances


Every breed has its challenges, and knowing which health tests are required for a particular breed is important.

Don’t forget to inquire with the breeder about health clearances for their breeding dogs. Responsible breeders will conduct health tests to ensure their breeding dogs are free from genetic diseases or any hereditary conditions common in the breed.

Some common tests for all breeds include DNA testing, Elbow dysplasia screening scheme (BVA/KC), Estimated breeding values (for hip and elbow dysplasia), Eye screening scheme (BVA/KC), and Inbreeding calculators (COIs).

Check For Proper Documentation

Reputable breeders will always provide proper documentation, including registration papers, vaccination records, and health certificates, demonstrating their commitment to the well-being of their dogs. This helps future owners make informed decisions regarding the dog’s medical history, temperament, and overall quality.

Thorough documentation is also a testament to a breeder’s adherence to breeding practices that prioritize their dog’s health and genetic lineage and will give potential owners peace of mind.

Proper documentation reflects the breeder’s commitment to responsible practices. It also contributes to the overall well-being and satisfaction of both the dog and its prospective owner.

Ask Questions

Have a detailed conversation with the breeder to assess their knowledge, experience, and passion for the breed. A trustworthy and responsible breeder will have a wealth of knowledge about the specific breed, respond to your inquiries with patience, and will be open to answering your questions.

They understand that gathering information and clarifying doubts will pave the way for potential pet parents to have a joyful and fulfilling companionship with their new four-legged companion.

Reputable breeders may also ask you questions to ensure their puppies are placed in suitable homes.

Request References

Asking for references is another way to determine how reputable a breeder is. Ask the breeder for references from previous puppy buyers. Then reach out to these references to learn about their experiences with the breeder, the support they received, and the health and temperament of the puppies they acquired.

Trust Your Instincts

Pay attention to your gut feeling; it often serves as an internal compass. If something feels off or if you have concerns about the breeder’s ethics, transparency, or the conditions in which the dogs are kept, it’s better to trust your instincts, walk away, and continue searching for a reputable breeder.
Doing so will help you maintain your commitment to supporting responsible breeding practices.

Check Affiliations

Most reliable breeders are associated with clubs or organizations like the American Kennel Club (AKC), Continental Kennel Club (CKC), or breed-specific associations.

An AKC-registered breeder would be considered a Breeder Of Merit. Such breeders only produce purebred puppies that conform to appearance, temperament, and abilities.
For example, the AKC Bred With H.E.A.R.T Program is for committed breeders who prioritize the health and welfare of their dogs.

Remember, responsible and reputable breeders are genuinely invested in the well-being of their dogs even after they have moved to their forever homes. They will happily and often proactively guide you through the process and provide ongoing support even after you bring your new furry friend home.

Key Points in Breeder’s Contract

  • Information about the dog’s health, including health guarantees
  • Vaccination, deworming, declawing
  • Microchip information
  • Registration
  • Veterinary care administered
  • Care kit (if any)

The Different Types Of Breeders

how to find a reputable dog breeder-understanding the different types of dog breeders

On your journey to find your four-legged companion, you may hear of many different types of breeders. Knowing each type and the associated salient features will help you find the right breeder.

Heritage Or Preservation Breeders

A preservation breeder doesn’t believe in numbers but in the health and conformity of a particular breed. They only produce limited litter annually to ensure every puppy is healthy, well-socialized, and sweet-tempered. Consequently, they have a long waitlist.

Heritage breeders protect and support specific breeds through selective breeding, ensuring every dam and stud is tested for bloodlines.

Hobby Breeders

As the name suggests, hobby breeders breed occasionally — not more than once or twice a year. They study each breed and conduct tests to ensure every puppy is healthy, though not all hobby breeders may do so.

Hobby breeders usually raise their puppies at home. They may have limited experience compared to professional breeders. And since this isn’t a full-time business, any proceeds from the sale of a puppy aren’t taxable.

For-Profit Breeders

Because breeders don’t always make a profit, they often resort to unethical practices like overproduction, inbreeding, and crossbreeding. Producing more equals selling more, which guarantees them some profit.

Sadly, this impacts the health of the mother and her litter. For-profit breeding facilities overproduce, do not test dogs for genetic conditions, and give you no health guarantees. They do not socialize the puppies either. As a result, you may end up with poorly bred, unhealthy puppies.

Backyard Breeders

Backyard breeders are those who breed dogs without proper knowledge, experience, or regard for responsible breeding practices. They often operate in a casual or unprofessional manner, typically breeding dogs in their own homes, backyards, or small facilities.

Such breeders commonly prioritize profit over the health and well-being of their animals, leading to potential genetic issues, poor socialization, and poorly cared-for puppies.

how to find a reputable dog breeder-frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Meaning of Reputable Breeders?

A reputable breeder produces a particular breed to preserve or improve it. These breeders take pride in what they’re doing and genetically test dogs to ensure every litter is better than the previous one. They only produce 1-2 litters annually. Reputable breeders are also affiliated with legit organizations like AKC or CKC and have legal contracts in place.

How To Check If A Dog Breeder Is Registered?

You can check your local council’s website or visit accredited websites like AKC and CKC, to know if a breeder is registered. Legit kennel registries also mention breeders’ names on their websites. Even if your breeder claims to be registered, cross-check the information.

How to Recognize a Bad Dog Breeder and Puppy Mills?

Bad dog breeders or puppy mills will focus on making a profit rather than conforming to breed standards and maintaining the health of their dogs. They resort to practices like crossbreeding and overproduction without any genetic testing. Their facilities are poorly maintained, and their dogs are unhealthy and unsocialized. Puppy mills may also not provide health guarantees or proper contracts.


General how to find a reputable dog breeder

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Meet Sheryl, a dedicated pet mom with over 20 years of hands-on experience as a pet mom to various dog breeds, from German Shepherds to Shih Tzus. Join her on her pet-centric journey as she aims to empower pet owners with practical tips and guidance. With her experience and passion for pets, she strives to make a positive impact in the lives of pets and their devoted owners.