How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder
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 Petfinder.com 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.
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.
- 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).
- 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.
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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!
What Should I Avoid?
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!