Responsible Breeders

There are many wonderful puppies and dogs in shelters and rescue groups across the country who are looking for new home. But if you haven’t found the right match in a shelter or rescue and decide to work with a breeder, please choose a good breeder who truly cares for their dogs and who will give your pet the best start possible.

Finding a responsible breeder takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. For a complete rundown of what to look for, see our guide on How To Sniff Out A Good Dog Breeder [PDF]. But first, here are our tips to put you on the right track:

Make the Trip

If you take only one piece of advice from us, make it this: No matter where you begin your search for a good breeder—either through a personal referral or a web search—it is critical that you physically visit the breeder’s home. Photos and websites can be misleading, so it’s best to see with your own eyes where the puppies were born and how they’re being raised. You should expect to see the puppy’s mom and where she and the puppies live.

A good breeder loves their dogs and has nothing to hide. If the breeder is reluctant for you to visit, refuses to show you the puppies’ parents and where they live, won’t let you see the puppies up close and handle them, or wants to bring a pup to you at another location—even if that location is more convenient for you—move on.

Because they plan each litter and are devoted to properly caring for each puppy until a home can be found, good breeders may not always have puppies available. Don’t be turned off by waiting lists—in fact, they’re likely a good sign!

Ask Questions

A good breeder should be transparent and readily provide you with information about the dog breed in general, the specific dogs they have bred, and the puppy you’re interested in. Ask to take a look at health records, photos of prior litters, and any other information you or the breeder thinks will be helpful.

Keep in mind, you’re not just checking out a breeder—they should be checking you out, too. Good breeders will ask questions to make sure this is the right puppy for you and to help you prepare your home for a new family member.

Trust Your Gut

Don’t make any final decisions until you’ve visited, and then ask yourself: Would you want your dog living there?

Make sure to review everything and discuss any concerns with your family or a veterinarian. If you’re at all uncomfortable with what you saw or were told, or feel pressured to make a quick decision, you might want to consider other options: take some time off to rethink, visit another breeder, consider a different type of puppy or an older dog, or even revisit your local adoption center.

Sources available upon request; contact [email protected] with specific questions about this content.