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How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder

Updated on March 8, 2019
Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Where to Start?

You want a dog. Where do you start looking? Well, you really need to first decide if you want to rescue a dog from being euthanized at the shelter, buy one from a breeder, or adopt one from a rescue group.

I recommend that you start by browsing to see if there are any dogs in your area that you could really love. You can choose the age, size, and even breed of the dog you're looking for (many are purebred), and you'd be surprised at what you find!

If you don't find the breed or age of the dog you want at Petfinder, you should read about your other options at my hub entitled Rescue, Buy, or Adopt?

Please remember that there are thousands of purebred dogs (and tiny puppies!) in shelters and breed-specific rescues across the country.

Still want to buy from a breeder? Great! It's an excellent decision if it's an informed one, and if you read that other article, you have plenty of information to choose.

Now all you have to do is find a reputable breeder!

Why Do I Need a "Reputable" Breeder?

It is admittedly a lot of work to find a truly reputable breeder. This is not because they are hiding; it is because there are many unethical breeders out there who would love to convince you that they are the most trustworthy breeders around.

But it's worth it to follow the steps I'm about to provide you for two reasons.

A.) You will end up with a better dog.

Reputable breeders want nothing more than to place the right owner with the right dog. They will find out your personality and then help you choose the puppy that will fit in with that lifestyle. Moreover, you will be adopting a healthier animal because reputable breeders put so much extra care into ensuring the health of the dogs they breed.

B.) You will not add to the cycle of pet overpopulation.

Reputable breeders only breed once they know they have homes for all the pups they'll be producing. Then, if a family cannot care for the dog anymore for any reason, the breeder will gladly take him back and try to find him a new home. In this way, they are only producing "wanted" animals and not adding to the shelter population or the statistics of thousands of dogs that must be euthanized every day, and by supporting a good breeder, neither are you.

Photo by Hannah Gunnell
Photo by Hannah Gunnell

What is a "Reputable" Breeder?

A reputable breeder is a person or small group of people who breed their dogs because they have a deep passion for their chosen breed. They try to "better the breed" by selecting animals who strictly conform to breed standards and who are healthy and well-tempered.

Reputable breeders often charge hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for each dog, but they ultimately don't make much money from a litter. This is because they spend a lot of money on the proper care of a litter and its mother, including tests on the parents before the litter is conceived and keeping current with vaccinations while the puppies are with them.

A reputable breeder will become your resource as you raise your dog. Whether they adopt to you a "pet quality" or a "show quality" puppy (the difference being that they will require you to spay or neuter the former and only might require that you fix the latter), you should always be encouraged to call them with training questions or any other problems you might have.

How Do I Find the Right Breeder?

There are several steps you can take to begin to find the right breeder.

  1. Contact your local breed club. They will have a very strict Code of Ethics to which breeders must adhere. Anyone they recommend will likely be a very good breeder but might have a long waiting list (but might not! never know).
  2. Stop by an AKC event near you (or United or Canadian Kennel Clubs, as appropriate) and talk to some of the people there. They can tell you where they got their dog or may even be breeders themselves! Many people will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

What Questions Should I Ask?

Once you have found a breeder of the breed you love, as recommended by someone you trust, there are several questions that you should ask them. This is to reassure yourself that they are, in fact, a reputable breeder and to let the breeder know that you will be a responsible dog owner.

  • What titles or championships have the parents won? (These should be in comformation and in a breed-appropriate sport or obedience.) What about the grandparents?
  • Have the parents and grandparents been tested for hip dysplasia and other congenital diseases to which the breed is prone?
  • May I speak to your dog and bitch's veterinarian about their health and care? (Speaking to the breeder's vet is the best way to ensure that they are legitimately breeding.)
  • What are the requirements of the adoption application (spay/neuter, return of the dog if I can no longer care for it, etc)? May I breed this dog if it is considered "show quality"?
  • Do you have a health guarantee on the dog I will adopt? (This is an absolute must for good breeders!)
  • Are you active in breed rescue or breed-appropriate sports?

And don't be afraid to ask any other questions you may have! Reputable, responsible breeders will be more than willing to answer your questions and will encourage you to find out all you can before adopting one of their pups. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship for all the parties involved!

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Cages at an overpopulated puppy mill.
Cages at an overpopulated puppy mill.

What Should I Avoid?

Even though many pet stores insist that they buy their puppies only from the best of breeders, that is pretty much an outright lie. Pet stores buy from puppy mills, irresponsible backyard breeders, and other Class B animal dealers. A responsible breeder has no use for a pet store.

Get Going!

Remember that, ultimately, you are trying to find the best pet to add to your family. You will undoubtedly have a lot of questions, and this is part of why it's so great to have a responsible breeder at your side as you go through the process!

Again, remember that there are plenty of purebred dogs in shelters waiting for homes or in foster homes with breed-specific rescue. So if finding a good breeder is a little too much for you, chances are there's a shelter nearby!

There are so many resources on the internet that can help you, but ultimately you will need to get out there and talk to people. Go to a few dog shows, talk to people there, and get some good recommendations. You will be so glad that you went through all the trouble once you bring home your fuzzy little bundle of joy!


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    • profile image


      11 years ago

      For 36 years of marriage we always adopted rescue dogs. We sought out heelers and collies the, true herding dogs. They are delightful enrgetic, they will get your dead butt off the couch and improve your life; and then we met Cindy.

      After 3 years Cindy is a decent dog. She is submissive to our blue heeler, 2 years her junior. I think she is a puppy mill dog. She has retarded responses and a hard time dealing with affection. She will growl while you pet her and then try to get under your hand for more and growl some more. Years of hard runs on the beach and long walks have mellowed her, but I will never adopt another rescue. It is easier to get a pure bred puppy from a quality breeder and know that the consistency of temperment will be there. And let us not forget the contract allowing return of the puppy for another dog if measure faults in physical or mental development occur. I spend a lot of money on my dogs and train them in tracking an obediance. I would never recommend

      heelers for the casual dog owner, they are an acquired taste.

    • Whitney05 profile image


      13 years ago from Georgia

      Great information as always! I'm all for adopting pets, even though both of my dogs are from breeders. I have volunteer for animal shelters for over 5 years. When my yorkie, passes, and I know it's time to get another dog, although I'd love another yorkie, I'm going to try to find a mix or a yorkie rescue. I think breeders, good ones, are hard to come by. It took me over a month to find my APBT's breeder.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      13 years ago

      You are a jewel HelenaTheGreat!! Blessings, Earth Angel!!

    • MrMarmalade profile image


      13 years ago from Sydney

      I belive you have hit the nail on the head

      Keep it up

      Thank you

    • helenathegreat profile imageAUTHOR


      13 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks for mentioning breed-specific rescue, Earth Angel. As you and I well know, MANY a great dog will find a home that way. While I wiil definitely go back and mention it in my hub, I really wanted this hub to be just about finding a reputable breeder. If you look at my Rescue, Buy, or Adopt hub, I mention breed-specific rescue there as a great option for finding a purebred pup.

      Thanks, as always, for your wonderful and insightful comment! Your input is always welcome here!!

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      13 years ago

      Another GREAT Hub Helena!!

      Great resources for people looking to give a home to a wonderful companion!!

      One item I didn't see above is about Breed-Specific Rescue Organizations!! I have a fondness (really an obsession) for Cocker Spaniels!! I keep in touch with the local Cocker Spaniel Rescue Organization to make sure all Cockers are well cared for!! Sometimes the Breed-Specific Rescue Organizations (all breeds have them) are a wonderful place for someone to start in looking to adopt!! They get a pedigree animal, already spayed/neutered, current on shots and beyond the potty training stage!! Often for no cost!! (Okay, yes, maybe some obedience issues!!)

      I know the intentions are good with the reputable breeders!! I know they have open arms to take back any unwanted animals. However, that assumes the original breeders haven't moved, closed shop, retired, or died!!

      I know the intentions are good when people first adopt pets!! But I know many, many elderly who adopt pets that will far outlive their owners!! The pet is then bounced around from home to home because the adult children of the deceased know nothing of the original breeders open arms policy!!

      So, I do take excption with your one section: B.) You will not add to the cycle of pet overpopulation. Yes you will!! Anytime someone is considering adoption, and they decide on a breeder and pets that have yet to be born, over adopting one that is already in need, that action DOES contribute to the cycle of pet over population!! Just a thought!!

      Thank you for keeping this topic front and center in our minds and hearts!!

      Blessings to you and all the fur-angels your good deeds touch!! Earth Angel!!


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