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How to Find a Responsible Dog Breeder

You’ve decided you’re ready for a(nother?) four-legged best friend, and that a puppy from a breeder is the right choice for you. Now all that’s left is finding the right breeder. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to distinguish the good ones from the rest if you know what to look for.


To get you started, here are some things to look for in a breeder:

They insist on meeting you
If you are guaranteed a puppy by clicking the Pay Now button on a website, this breeder is in it for the money. Keep looking.

They might not have puppies right now
Most responsible breeders will only have a few litters a year, given the time and energy it takes to care for the mother, socialize puppies, screen new owners, and do everything that needs to be done to prepare the puppies for their new homes. If they always have puppies available, this could be a red flag.

They welcome your visits
A good breeder has nothing to hide and is happy to have you and your family visit. They’ll show you where their dogs and puppies spend most of their time, have you meet the mother (and father if he lives there too) and the litter, and handle all of the puppies. The area where the mom and pups sleep should be clean, and if there appears to be an area for toileting, you know that housetraining has already begun.

They raise the puppies in the house
If the puppies are bred to be house pets, good breeders raise them in the house, and don’t keep them hidden away in a basement, barn or garage. They make sure the puppies are well socialized, have begun some training, and are exposed to what life in the house is like. 

They’re as interested in you as you are in them
There should be a give-and-take where you get the chance to ask questions, but they should also want to know a bit about you. They’ll ask what you know about the breed, how you can provide for the puppy’s needs, what kind of home you live in, and whether your landlord is okay with you having a pet, if applicable. 


They know their stuff
Good breeders should be able to speak knowledgeably about the breed – the good and the bad. They should be able to show the results of screenings for the hereditary conditions that are common in the breed, and offer advice on general characteristics and things to watch for in their dogs.

They have records
Good breeders can give you records of the puppy’s veterinary visits, and let you know exactly what’s left to be done, in terms of vaccinations, parasite control, and so on. They’ll also have a contract that states their responsibilities – and yours – and what must happen if someone who buys a puppy can no longer keep it, no matter the age of the dog.

They provide references
These can include people who have purchased their puppies, veterinarians they’ve worked with, even other breeders.
The bottom line: responsible, scrupulous breeders want to breed healthy, happy puppies, and they care about what happens to them. To find the good ones, ask for referrals from your veterinarian, the local or national breed association, the American Kennel Club, or other owners.


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