How to find a good dog breeder

Note: DogTime does not endorse any breeder. We recommend readers research and interview breeders thoroughly before buying a dog.

If you buy a dog from an unknowledgeable backyard breeder or a puppy mill, you risk winding up with a dog who has health and behavioral problems. (Not to mention, you support the irresponsible breeding of dogs.) Any one of the following should be considered a red flag–and your cue to walk away.

Does the breeder:

  • Sell dogs only to individuals they meet with, and they never sell to pet stores
  • Meet prospective buyers at their home, rather than selling puppies at flea markets or by the side of the road
  • Sell only one breed of dog and produce just one or two litters a year
  • Participate in dog shows and competitions with their chosen breed
  • Never advertise that puppies are ready for Christmas, Easter, or other holidays
  • Agree to let you meet the puppy’s mother or both parents
  • Wait until puppies are at least eight weeks old before letting them leave their mother
  • Use recognized and approved registries
  • Provide health clearances for the puppy’s parents and grandparents
  • Ask as many questions of you as you ask of them

When you visit the breeder’s home or facility, do you see:

  • The mother and puppies live in the home with the family, not outside or in the garage or basement
  • The dogs appear healthy and happy
  • The dogs are comfortable around people and other dogs
  • The puppies’ area is well maintained, with a toilet area and water available

Adapted from the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project.

Further reading:

Finding a good breeder, from DogTime
How to find a good dog breeder, from the HSUS
Puppy mills and responsible breeding, from the ASPCA