How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder

Published: 12/08/22 •  9 min read

It seems like a hefty, daunting task if you’ve decided to look for a dog to purchase rather than adopt. Finding a reputable dog breeder is even more challenging, as the internet is littered with ‘backyard breeders’ and those who treat their dogs poorly. Finding a good dog breeder is like finding a canary in a coal mine.

How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder

But that’s why we’re here to help you sift through all the terrible breeders that generate horror stories you hear about on Facebook and find decent human beings who breed dogs the proper way.

How Do I Find The Right Breeder?

Finding the ‘right’ dog breeder is as much about the breeder’s documentation, history, pedigrees, certifications – and, of course, that it has the breed you’re looking for – and just the general feeling you get when visiting a breeder. Generally, people have good intuition. You know when something’s a miss. And if at any point during your conversations (either online or in-person) with your prospective dog breeder, something feels off – you are well within your rights to walk away.

Need Help Choosing A Breed?

Suppose you want to get a dog and are fully prepared for all the trials, tribulations, love and companionship that will follow. In that case, there are a few things you’ll need to consider carefully before choosing what breed you want and a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself – the answers to which will impact what breeds you consider.

Your Lifestyle

One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is whether or not your desired breed will suit your lifestyle. What is your ‘lifestyle’? Are you outdoorsy and active, or do you like to spend most of your time indoors? Are you out with friends outdoors, in a public place where dogs aren’t allowed? Or are you off hiking in the woods with friends, or your partner and the dog would be a welcome addition?

Your Family Life

If you have a family, you need to ensure everyone in the family home is on the same page about purchasing the same breed. If you want a Golden Retriever, but your wife wants a Chihuahua, and the kids want goldfish, then that’s going to be a problem. Before you decide about putting down your hard-earned cash, make sure you’re buying the dog everyone wants – or at least is willing to love and care for.

Your Time

One of the most important considerations is whether or not you’re willing and able to invest the time and energy it takes to own a dog. Particularly if you’re looking to get it as a puppy. Like children, they take an enormous amount of time and energy. And because your time is valuable, spending that time taking care of a dog in all the ways, it needs you to, like walks, vet appointments, playtime, snuggles, feeding, etc. It might seem like a good idea. But it would be best if you considered whether or not you can make that commitment.

Can You Afford A Dog?

Love them though we do, and worth every penny they undoubtedly are – a dog is a significant financial investment. Never mind the upfront fees to purchase a dog from a reputable breeder – according to statistics – the average cost of dog ownership in the U.S. ranges from $1,750 to $3,000 per year!  While that may not seem like much compared to the pleasure and joy of owning and raising a proverbial “good boi”, it is a consideration for some people.

What Is A Puppy Mill?

What Is A Puppy Mill?

In general, puppy mills are places where dogs – including designer dogs (another name for the mixed-breed dogs we’ve been covering) – are bred solely for their financial compensation. Many puppy mills are operated poorly, without any regard for animal welfare.

Upon inspection, puppy mills can be dirty and unhygienic places where a breeder is breeding multiple dogs. Any breeder worth their salt and your money will allow you to meet the parents of the dog you wish to adopt – many puppy mill owners will not.

Puppy mills often won’t have any documentation about the history of the breed(s) you’re looking at and will not discuss their parent breeds with you in any great detail.

Many puppy mills nowadays are operating online. When researching where to buy your desired breed online, please be aware of this. If you find yourself staring at fishy ads, they probably are, and you need to run a mile in the other direction.

How To Tell A Puppy Mill From A Breeder

Breeders and puppy mills are sometimes used synonymously, but they couldn’t be farther from one another in breeding quality terms. It’s often said that puppy mills give reputable breeders a bad name – well, they do.

People who breed dogs tend to produce only one or two types of pure breeds. That is, no crossbreeding, just purebred dogs. They also do so at reasonable prices because they do so out of love and passion for that particular breed of dog.

People who are breeders are certified by the American state and federal governments. They will have supportive documentation declaring this certification visible when you visit them or available upon request. It will also be easily verifiable with state and federal breeder organizations.

Certified breeders take good care of their dogs – they become one of the family – and are therefore accustomed to human interaction. If you notice that the dogs’ have unusual skittishness or fear of humans upon visitation, you’re likely dealing with a puppy mill, not a breeder.

Should I Visit The Breeder?

You should definitely visit any breeder that you wish to buy a dog. Visually seeing the dog – examining its physical health and meeting it for the first time is the only want to truly feel comfortable making such a financial and emotional commitment as buying a dog.

How Do I Know If a Breeder Is Good?

There are a few key things to consider when determining whether the breeder you’re speaking with is good.

What You Should Avoid When Looking For Breeders

There are a few worse things on this earth than lousy dog breeders who take advantage of people’s love for dogs to line their pockets and treat our beautiful four-legged friends poorly.

Here are a few things you should run a mile from if you discover them while looking for a reputable dog breeder:

The Benefits Of Adopting A Dog

While there’s been plenty of talk about breeders in this article, another even more popular option for some people is to adopt a dog rather than purchase from a breeder. Here are a few benefits of adoption.

  1. It tends to be cheaper than buying through a breeder. You might need a vet check-up and updated vaccinations, but your upfront costs with adoption are low.
  2. It can save doggy lives! Unfortunately, many dogs put up for adoption are on the precipice of being sent to a shelter – where they may face death (kill shelters are a thing)or have a long wait before being adopted. Adopting a dog before it goes to a shelter can save it from the pain and trauma of wondering where its next home will be.
  3. Adoption is also a lifesaver for middle-aged and elderly dogs nearing the end of their lives. Sometimes, that can bring a sense of unnecessary stress and pain for the elderly animal – adopting an elderly dog will mean it will live out the last years of its life in the comfort of a loving home.

Reputable Dog Breeders – Conclusion

In general, puppy mills are easier to find than reputable breeders – they’re popping up like mad and can be not-so-easy to distinguish from properly-registered, reputable breeders. However, you’ll know a reputable dog breeder when you meet one. You’ll be able to tell for yourself immediately based on the location, environment, personality and vibe you get from the person.

If you suspect you’ve run into a puppy mill instead of a reputable breeder – run in the other direction and don’t look back!

Nick Meagher

I'm Nick Meagher, a lifelong dog enthusiast and the voice behind this blog. Having grown up with dogs, I've developed a deep understanding and an unbreakable bond with these amazing companions. Through MyK9Life, I aim to share insights, tips, and heartwarming stories, celebrating the joy and journey of life with our four-legged friends.