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10 Tips for Choosing a Responsible Dog Breeder
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10 Tips for Choosing a Responsible Dog Breeder

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jan 17, 2023

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Bringing a pet into your household is a huge decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. If you're set on a specific breed, we highly recommend getting your pet from a reputable, highly-selective breeder that takes excellent care of the animals. Here are some of our best tips for finding the right one for you.

1

Meet the breeder in person

Two women playing and training a dog in a dog shelter StefaNikolic/ Getty Images

Nowadays, looking for pets on the web and even purchasing them online is becoming increasingly common. However convenient this might seem, we don't advise you to do it. You can learn a lot about a breeder when you meet them in person, so that's always going to be the better option.

It goes both ways — the breeder can learn more about you and your ability to care for an animal. That's why the best breeders might not even be online.

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2

Choose a breeder who focuses on one specific breed

Group of puppies all together Martina Lanotte / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Most established breeders focus on a particular breed. Those with a bunch of different breeds or who offer both cats and dogs for sale are more likely to be acting as a distributor rather than breeding the pets themselves. If they offer too much variety, consider this a red flag.

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3

Meet the pet

Family adopting a dog from the animal shelter. FatCamera/ Getty Images

Your breeder should allow you to meet the litter at least once, which will make it easier to tell how well the pets' temperaments mesh with yours and whether they'd be a good match for you. It's also a good opportunity for the breeder to evaluate how you interact with the animals.

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4

Ask to see the pet's parents

Image of a couple of black and white labradors playing in backyard Stefan Cristian Cioata/ Getty Images

The breeders should get you to meet at least one of the parents — but ideally both. After all, it's the surest way to find out what your pet will grow up to look and act like. Ask about their temperaments, habits, and medical history, and make sure you'd be happy to bring a similar pet home.

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5

How strict are they about breeding?

Samoyed dog mother with puppies. Puppies suckling mother. infinityyy/ Getty Images

Ethical breeders do extensive genetic testing on their animals and are incredibly selective when it comes to breeding. They screen for various issues and don't breed pets with health concerns, congenital disabilities, bad temperaments, or show signs of aggression. Ask them how they select animals for breeding — you should expect a thorough answer.

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6

Research the breed yourself

Couple Wearing Pyjamas Standing In Kitchen Working From Home On Laptop monkeybusinessimages/ Getty Images

Ideally, you should've looked into various breeds and figured out which ones best suit your lifestyle and preferences. Learn as much as possible and prepare a bunch of questions for the breeders. Then compare their answers to your knowledge — are they being sincere, or are they downplaying certain issues with the breed?

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7

Do they have a waiting list?

Crop unrecognizable female groomer stroking Border Collie dog before procedure in veterinary clinic Manu Vega/ Getty Images

Ethical breeders are typically very selective about how they breed their animals, and as a result, they don't produce huge numbers of pets. For that reason, they often have long waiting lists and rarely away pets for free or at a discounted rate.

If you're being offered a lower rate for any reason, consider it a sign that you should be very thorough with your research of the seller.

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8

Do they take care of the pet?

Everyday life at home with dogs Klaus Vedfelt/ Getty Images

Good breeders are meticulous when it comes to proper pet care. They follow strict pet-raising protocols and ensure they meet the animal's developmental needs. Expect a puppy to be socialized appropriately, fed exceptionally well, and be provided with the necessary immunizations and treatments. Never get a pet from a breeder who appears to be skimping on raising the animals in their care.

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9

Get references

Give me five -Puppy pressing his paw against a Girl hand anurakpong/ Getty Images

One easy way to separate the legit breeders from those who don't operate ethically is to ask for a reference from a past customer. They should be more than happy to get you in contact with someone. Keep in mind that reputable breeders may also ask you to provide references to prove your ability to take care of a pet.

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10

Keep in touch

Old woman working at home. Halfpoint Images/ Getty Images

A reputable breeder will most likely insist on maintaining a relationship with you even after you take your new pet home and will encourage you to contact them with any questions on pet care. They'll also make it clear that they'll accept the pet back if you decide you can't take care of it anymore, no matter how old it is. These behaviors show that the breeder is responsible, experienced, and cares about the animals they breed.

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