8 Signs of a Responsible Breeder

Congratulations on deciding to purchase a purebred dog and for doing your due diligence to ensure that your pet comes from a responsible, reputable breeder. Here are some things to look for while researching breeders.

You should be able to visit the breeder's home or kennel and see at least one of the puppy's parents. While there, pay attention to the parent's temperament and appearance so that you get a sense of what your puppy may be like. Also, observe the premises. Is the house/kennel clean? Odor free? Dogs and puppies should be clean, well fed, lively, and friendly. Look for signs of malnutrition (like protruding rib cages) or such signs of illness as runny nose and eyes, coughing, lethargy, and sores.

While there, interact with the puppies and dogs. Does the breeder appear to genuinely care for them? The puppies should not shy away from the breeder and should be outgoing with strangers.

Breeders should care about health of your puppy and its parents. They should be informative and honest about a breed's physical and temperamental traits. And they should speak knowledgeably about genetic diseases that might affect their breed.

A toy-dog breeder should not market eacup" varieties. This is not an actual size classification and is usually attained through breeding runts. So-called teacup dogs often come with a host of health problems.

The breeder should be friendly and willing to establish a good rapport with you. A good breeder will be an excellent resource and breed mentor for you throughout the life of your puppy, and encourage you to call if your dog has a crisis at any stage of its life.

A responsible breeder may ask you to sign a contract indicating that if you fail to meet specified conditions of care, or you become unable to keep the puppy, the breeder will reclaim it.

The breeder should not allow you to bring home the puppy until it's 8 to 12 weeks old. Puppies need ample time to mature and socialize with its mother and littermates.

Breeders should be willing to answer any questions you have, and they should ask many of you as well. Breeders will want to make sure their puppies are going to good homes, with people who know what to expect and have made all the necessary preparations.

Not sure yet of the breed that's best for you?
Try our Matchmaker Tool here. 

Find breeders at the American Kennel Club's Online Breeder Classifieds.