Buying a Puppy? How to Select a Breeder

More than half of the puppies raised in the U.S. are raised by people who never have another litter. These people have a short amount of time in the breed, are not prepared for the experience nor are they educated enough to do a good job. They are gone tomorrow and don’t stand behind their puppies. They are ill equipped to take adequate care of all puppies until they can be placed in good homes, regardless of how long that takes. Another large percentage of puppies are raised by “Puppy Mills” that sell numerous litters of many breeds, or sell to retailers for resale.

A Responsible Breeder Never Sells to Pet Shops

That leaves a relatively small percentage of puppies being raised by experienced people who are dedicated to one breed and raise puppies for reasons other than maximum profit. Not all of these breeders are knowledgeable and conscientious.

How Do You Identify An Experienced and Conscientious Breeder?

A conscientious Breeder will educate you for weeks before you take your puppy home so you are completely prepared and will continue to educate you on how to best rear up a puppy long after it goes home, providing you a lifetime of support.


When you inquire about a puppy, the breeder will interview you.

You know they will not sell you a puppy simply because you want one and have the money to pay for one. They want to know that you can house and raise their puppy appropriately and that their puppy will have one permanent home for his entire lifetime.

You will talk to and buy the puppy from the breeders of the lines, who raised the litter and own or co-own the mother (dam).

Conscientious breeders don’t sell puppies to stores; they would never offer a puppy as a prize or for an auction. A good breeder’s pups don’t cost any more.

The breeder will know the ancestry of the puppies, not just parents, but grandparents and beyond.

Not just titled and colors, but strong points and weak points of personality and structure.

The breeder will tell you what genetic screening (such as OFA x-rays) is necessary for that breed, will be willing to discuss problems and show proof of genetic screening.

All dogs can have Hip Dysplasia.

You won't see multiple litters of multiple breeds.

One breed is ideal with less than 3 litters a year TOTAL. You will see evidence (photos, books, possibly awards) of long term interest and activity in the breed. The puppy’s environment will be clean with ample room for exercise. Puppies confined to a small area can't grow normally and are difficult to housetrain.

The puppies will not have been separated from their mother and littermates at less than 7 weeks of age.

Many breeders consider 7-8 weeks ideal, some later. If you look at puppies over 12 weeks of age, it is likely they have not had enough individual attention and will be more bonded to dogs than to people.

All things discussed and implied will be written down in a contract.

The breeder will be there to help and advise you throughout the life of the puppy. Many breeders will ask you to bring the puppy (or dog) back to them at any age, if for any reason you can't keep him.

Unless you are very serious about becoming a student of your breed and a conscientious breeder, will not give you breeding rights.

The breeding of a dog is a responsibility that shouldn't be entered into lightly.

The breeder will insist that you prepare an appropriate place at home for your puppy before you take your puppy home.

They will give you thorough personal instructions on puppy feeding and care and a record of vaccinations and worming.

If AKC registration application is not yet available, the breeder will furnish you with the registered names and numbers of sire and dam, birth date of litter and name, address and phone number of breeder as the AKC requires.


An exceptional breeder is one that is breeding to better their breed, they are not just making puppies to sell.

Be aware that AKC registration does not mean quality. It only means that your dog is a purebred. “Pet quality” puppies should be considered as just that! Even litters from very well bred parents usually contain only a few “show or breeding” quality pups. The rest of the litter sold as pets can well supply the pet-buying public, providing that the buyers realize that, while pure-bred, these puppies are not breeding stock.

Information derived from the American Kennel Club.