How To Find A Good Dog Breeder Instead Of A Puppy Mill Where Dogs Are Bred For Pet Stores

I love happy little mutts!  But many people prefer the look and more predictable characteristics of a particular breed instead.

If you prefer a certain dog breed, then your first order of business is to do some thorough research to find the best breed for your circumstances.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 1 in 4 purebred dogs end up in shelters, due to no fault of their own, so this is an extremely important step.  Besides, it’s fun!

Once you’ve figured out the best breed for you and your family, the next step is to find a reputable breeder for your new dog.

Find A Purebred Dog

With one-fourth of purebreds ending up in shelters, the local animal shelter is a great place to start!

You might not find a purebred puppy at your local shelter, but a dog that’s already partially or fully grown can still make a wonderful companion.

There are also many rescue groups that specialize in specific dog breeds.

Your local animal shelter will probably be able to help you find what you’re looking for, or check out the Humane Society of the United States. You can also call the HSUS at (202) 452-1100 and ask for the Companion Animals department.

The American Kennel Club has a long list of rescue groups for nearly every dog breed you can think of across the country.

Many rescue groups will ask for a donation or charge a fee to help cover veterinary and boarding costs, but you’d be paying a breeder otherwise, so this shouldn’t be a deterrent.


How To Find A Purebred Puppy

If you feel adopting a puppy is a better option for you, then you’ll need to find a reputable breeder.

A word of caution here… pet store dogs often come from puppy mills. (<– Be sure to check that list closely. It’s a database of USDA-licensed breeding facilities that have been cited for violations, along with pet stores that have sold puppies from those facilities during the past year.)

The Humane Society recommends never buying a dog from a pet store — because you have no way of knowing what the breeding conditions were, or what health or temperament problems one of these dogs may have.

Another thing to watch for: if the pet store puppies seem resigned to being cooped up in a cage, it’s because that’s what they’re used to.  You want to find a puppy that was raised as part of the family, in a loving home – like yours!

I also wouldn’t recommend buying a dog over the Internet or through some other blind source where you have no idea whatsoever about how the dogs were raised.  Anybody can set up a gorgeous website and say whatever they think you want to hear.

You absolutely need to visit the breeder’s facility.

Things To Look For In A Dog Breeder

A good breeder will:

  • Welcome and encourage a visit from you.
  • Have no hesitation in providing a long list of references and other happy customers.
  • Be USDA inspected.
  • Allow you to meet the parents, or at least the mother, of their puppies.
  • Mother and pups should be a part of the household, and not confined to cages. They should be well socialized and happy to see you, and show no fear of you (or the breeder!).

Your local animal shelter or veterinarian can be a good place to start your search for a reputable breeder.

Here is a really great checklist that you can take to the breeders you visit to make sure they meet or exceed the recommendations listed.

The list above also includes questions that a good breeder will ask you. The questions are simple but good ones.  And if you don’t have positive answers to all of them, you might want to postpone your search for a dog until you’re more prepared.

Reputable dog breeders truly care about the homes they send their puppies to, and will interview prospective owners as thoroughly as you need to interview them.

A Good Dog Breeder = A Healthy Well-Adjusted Dog

Once you find the perfect breeder, don’t be impatient to rush your new puppy home at 6 weeks old.  That’s too young.

Let the mother wean the pup naturally, in her own time.  Plus, once they’re slightly older, they will be less attached to mom and more interested in being with humans — which is the perfect time for your new puppy to adjust to your household.  Some say 8-10 weeks, others say 10-14 weeks.

And when you do bring your new dog home – let the games begin.  Congratulations and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

In this video, a veterinarian discusses tips for finding a good dog breeder on the CBS Early Show. (Here’s the accompanying article: How To Tell A Good Dog Breeder.)

About Kristie

Our current dog family consists of 2 Beagle-mix sisters, Susie and Fluffy. Over the last 35 years I’ve had anywhere from 1 to 6 dogs at a time, so I definitely have tons of dog and puppy stories to share! By the way, our dogs are going on 2 years straight with absolutely NO commercial pet food or dog treats. I like to make my own food and treats for my dogs.

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