Written by Anna Hollisey
Online are thousands of cute puppies waiting to be purchased. But if you inadvertently choose an irresponsible breeder, you could be buying a pup who is unhealthy, overbred, or undersocialized. Not to mention paying to support a person who profits from animal cruelty. How do you avoid the shady back-alleys and select a responsible breeder? We’re here to help.
Sometimes you’ll get a bad feeling from a breeder right away. But other times they seem perfectly legit… until the money’s been paid. Here’s our list of warning signals to help you steer clear.
Nobody likes the thought of puppies being reared in dirty cages or neglected in pet stores. The best thing you can do for their puppies is immediately report any breeders who behave in this way. Don’t give them your money; instead, support one of the many responsible dog breeders in the US.
You may feel you’re doing the noble thing by ‘rescuing’ this puppy from horrible conditions. The reality is you could be signing up for 15+ years of expensive vet bills, behavioral challenges and a dog that isn’t compatible with family life.
If you’ve got an idea of which breed(s) you’re drawn towards, you’ll probably be able to find dedicated groups online. You’ll find national (and usually State) associations, shows and competitions dedicated to specific breeds or groups. This can be the best place to start, you’ll find breeders so enthusiastic about their breed, they’re active members of that breed's community. They’ll be able to tell you more about these dogs and point you in the direction of reputable breeders.
You’ll know they’re great from the first call you make. The best dog breeders won’t allow you to purchase a puppy online. They’ll invite you to come and see the puppies and their mother (and sometimes father, too). This way, they can discuss the pups’ needs with you – and make sure you’re going to provide a great home.
A responsible dog breeder will want to screen you, too! They should invite you and your family to spend time with the pups to help you make an informed decision. They might ask questions like:
An internet search doesn’t always reveal local knowledge. For that, the best place to start is your local vet, breed clubs, and local owners. Look for shining examples of your favorite breed: a glossy spaniel, elegant Afghan Hound, or a peppy Dachshund. Talking to their owners could reveal a wealth of information.
If you want to search for a certain breed, begin by checking what health tests should have been carried out on the pups before purchase (just select the breed to see recommended health screening). The AKC advertises pedigree pups online.