Reputable Dog Breeders: Finding a Good, Ethical Breeder

Behavior & training
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With no national standard for dog breeding practices, it is up to the puppy buyer to do his homework before getting a dog. Good dog breeders make it their life’s passion to learn about the history of their breed, canine health, genetics and structure. They are interested in forming relationships with their puppy buyers and want to have continued contact throughout the dogs’ lives to ensure they are valued members of the family. 

When considering how to find a good dog breeder, start by assessing their dedication to the breed's welfare beyond mere compliance with ethical standards. A reputable dog breeder engages in continuous education and is proactive in the preservation and improvement of the breed. This includes participation in breed-specific clubs and contributions to breeding programs aimed at enhancing genetic health and temperament. 

An Ethical Dog Breeder: 

  • Is a member in good standing with the official parent club for the breed 

  • Follows the highest standards of ethical dog breeding practices 

  • Provides complete, accurate health records for the puppies 

  • Provides results from genetic medical testing of the parents 

  • Offers a written guarantee against genetic health problems 

  • Provides buyers with a four generation pedigree 

  • Retains puppies until they are a minimum of nine weeks of age 

  • Encourages potential buyers to visit their home prior to the pickup day 

  • Ensures their puppies are exposed to other animals, new people, children and noises 

  • Provides puppies with a specific elimination area away from the sleeping area 

  • Encourages buyers to participate in puppy socialization and/or basic obedience classes 

  • Will take the puppy back from the buyer at any time for any reason 

Questions To Ask the Breeder That Can Help You See If They’re Reputable: 

When looking for an ethical dog breeder, prospective pet parents should inquire about the socialization practices employed. Good dog breeders understand the importance of early exposure to various stimuli, including different environments, people, and noises. This critical aspect of puppy development fosters adaptability and confidence, qualities that are essential for a well-rounded family pet. 

  • Have they begun house training the puppies? If yes, how? 

  • Do the puppies exhibit basic obedience skills indicative of a good dog breeder's training? 

  • Have they begun separating puppies from the rest of the litter for short periods of time and placing them in crates? Dogs are social! Going from being part of a litter to alone in the crate in a strange place can be very traumatic. The breeder should have started this process. 

  • If this is a breed that requires routine grooming, has the breeder begun handling the puppies? Have they bathed the puppies, or clipped them? 

  • Do either of the parents guard food, toys, bones

  • Is there any history of behavior problems in the pedigree i.e. separation anxiety, dog aggression, confinement stress? 

  • How many people outside of the breeder’s immediate family have the puppies met? 

  • Have the puppies been around any other dogs aside from their mother? 

  • Have the puppies been exposed to other breeds aside from their own? 

  • Have the puppies been exposed to loud and unexpected noises? This would include slamming doors, men yelling, vacuum cleaner, etc. 

What a Good Breeder’s Environment Can Show You: 

While you're trying to figure out how to find a reputable dog breeder, the breeder's environment offers special insight into their practices. A good dog breeder's facility will be a beacon of organization and care, specifically tailored to nurture the puppies' development in a clean, structured setting. This environment is not just a physical space but a testament to the breeder's ethical approach to raising their litters. As you step into this space, observe the following details, each telling a story of the breeder's commitment to the well-being and proper upbringing of their puppies. 

  • Is there a single crate or exercise pen with newspaper spread out all over the floor, or do the puppies have a specific area to eliminate? Is there urine and feces in the elimination area or all over the floor? 

  • Look to see if there is one food bowl or multiple food bowls. As the puppies become older, they are likely to develop competitive behavior. There should be one bowl for each puppy. 

  • Do the puppies have access to a clean, safe, and secure outdoor area large enough for their age and breed? Is it fenced in to prevent escapes and encounters with other animals? Is there shade and shelter from the elements? 

  • Are the living areas free from excessive dirt, debris, and strong odors? Are the bedding, toys, and food bowls clean and sanitized regularly? 

  • Are there toys, puzzles, and activities available for the puppies to explore and play with? This helps with their cognitive development and prevents boredom. 

What a Good Breeder’s Puppies Can Show You: 

Meeting the puppies is an essential step in selecting the right canine companion. These playful bundles of fur offer a glimpse into their developing personality, health, and potential fit within your lifestyle. By observing their behavior and interactions, you gain valuable insights into the breeder's commitment to raising well-rounded, healthy dogs. 

  • Are the puppies playing with one another or do they seem to be “arguing” over toys? 

  • Are they respectful of you and your personal space or do they jump all over you and constantly play bite your hands? 

  • Do they self-entertain with toys or are they always running around looking for something to do? 

  • What happens if you stop one of the puppies from playing and try to restrain him? 

  • Do the puppies seem comfortable and familiar with the breeder? Does the breeder handle them gently and interact with them regularly? 

  • Are the puppies alert, playful, and free from any visible signs of illness or injury? 

Choose a More Reputable Breeder If: 

When looking for a reputable dog breeder, be aware of potential red flags that may signal a breeder does not meet the high standards of ethical breeders. A good breeder worthy of trust will welcome any questions and provide ample opportunity to observe and interact with the puppies and their parents in a transparent manner. Be mindful of the following signs as you make your decision: 

  • You are unable to meet the mother and/or the father 

  • The parents growl, snap or show extreme signs of being afraid of you 

  • The breeder cannot provide results for the genetic medical testing 

  • The majority of the litter does not appear social and confident 

  • The puppies have not been exposed to any other people outside of the breeder’s home 

  • The puppies have not been outside of the breeder’s home since birth 

  • The breeder lacks transparency or fails to meet ethical breeder standards 

  • Your gut says something isn’t right 

A Good Breeder Cares Even After the Adoption 

An often-overlooked piece of finding a reputable dog breeder is their approach to the post-adoption period. Ethical breeders provide a support system for new pet parents, offering guidance on pet wellness and behavior management. They stay available to address concerns and provide advice, ensuring that the puppy and its family adjust well to each other. This level of care and attention is a hallmark of a breeder who genuinely prioritizes the lifelong well-being of their dogs. 

Securing Your New Puppy's Future 

Now that you've found a reputable dog breeder, the next thing to consider is the long-term health and wellness of your new puppy. Puppy insurance can be a valuable resource, offering peace of mind by covering unexpected veterinary costs that can arise, regardless of a puppy's origins. As you prepare to bring a new member into your family, researching and securing a pet insurance plan is a responsible step. It ensures that you are prepared for any health-related challenges that may come your way, allowing you to focus on the joys of bonding with your puppy and providing them with the best care possible throughout their life. 

Partnering with Ethical Breeders for a Healthy, Happy Canine

Companion In your search for the perfect puppy, choosing an ethical dog breeder is a great first step. These breeders dedicate themselves to doing most of the groundwork, ensuring you receive a healthy, well-adjusted companion. By committing to ethical practices, they provide a solid foundation that contributes significantly to your puppy's temperament and sociability. Remember, the right breeder's efforts, coupled with your ongoing care and the security of pet insurance, are all part of a collective endeavor to guarantee your puppy a fulfilling life as a cherished member of your family.