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How To Find Reputable Dog Breeders

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Wednesday 15 January 2020
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
How To Find Reputable Dog Breeders
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Prospective dog owners will want to find a reputable dog breeder to ensure high levels of welfare and care have gone into the breeding of a puppy. “Reputable” can include care is given to the puppy’s genetics, health risks, and upbringing up to the point of purchase.

Responsible breeding provides a more ethical buy, a happier, and safer puppy. Along with comfort knowing that money is being given to deserving and caring individuals.

Where to find a reputable dog breeder?

With the number of places you can search for or acquire a dog, it can be difficult to choose a breeder. Each area will possess positives and negatives as to how easy it is to find honest, reliable breeders.

Whether it be a recommendation from your friend, a google search, or meeting at an event. There are certain criteria you can analyze to identify a good breeder. We have broken down each area with advice to find a high-quality, ethical, and reputable breeder.

Finding a reputable breeder online

As times have changed, so have the ways we advertise as breeders. It is more common for owners to find puppies and breeders online than offline these days.

Breed clubs

Breed clubs are the most trusted way of finding a reputable breeder. These are recommended by both the UK and American Kennel Club as these breeders will meet, compare notes and backyard breeders will quickly be identified. They can be recognized through their lack of dedication and worries about high-quality breeding and are therefore disallowed.

It is rare that you will find a backyard breeder here but usually, they can be reported or investigated if you have any suspicions or complaints. Each breed will usually have a club, if not multiple, along with charities associated with rehoming the breed. For example, you can search the breed Golden Retriever and find the Gold Retriever Club of America. Following the club’s website provides you to an area of recommended golden retriever clubs, breeders and rescues. It would be negatively seen on the website’s behalf to represent poor breeders so this will be minimized.

Dog Breeder Directories

A dog breeder directory is a website with a list of breeders who follow the set rules by that website in exchange for a listing on the website. Therefore, you can visit these popular and trusted websites to find a reputable dog breeder that the website endorses. Breeders will pay to be advertised here and after the correct references, if required, have gone through they are permitted to do so. It can be beneficial for breeders as they are being advertised and have a good reputation, and for the websites, they are searched more regularly by old and new owners.


A problem with dog breed directories is they may not require anything other than payment to sign breeders up. A backyard breeder may pay 25 dollars to have their name and contact information presented on the website to get more business. This benefits the website by presenting more breeders and buyers who can spread the word of them and the backyard breeders by being advertised in a directory. To counteract this, make sure to look at high class and well-known directories, such as the American Kennel Club’s directory who have ethics and welfare at heart. They also have a strict process to reject breeders who are not satisfactory.

A google search is one of the most common methods to find an ethical dog breeder to visit. This is due to the speed and ease to do. You can just type in the breeder, age and area you are looking for. Soon, hundreds of breeders will be displayed. However, this is also the most high-risk method as breeders can easily advertise whatever they want to be seen and conceal what they do not.

Here are a few tips in order to identify a genuine and ethical breeder as opposed to a backyard breeder. Firstly, check the reviews and their correspondence with dates. Does this breeder have positive reviews? Are there many and do they seem real? Has the breeder said they have been working in this profession for twenty years, but only have three months’ worth of reviews? The answers to these questions can help you to pick out a backyard breeder. Furthermore, look at their about section and the pictures of the puppies. Does their ‘about’ section show love and dedication to breeding and ethics? As opposed to just an ad to sell the puppies? Are the pictures posted stock pictures or is there just one, even though many litters have been sold?

Online classifieds

Online classifieds can be an effective way to compare breeders to one another. Through prices, location and the puppies appearances displayed on the ad in their pictures. However, it can still be very easy to present a facade here. Finding high-quality stock photos of the breed being sold and saying it is a past litter can attract customers. Along with fake claims towards experience and qualifications.

Usually, you should be able to identify pictures that look fake through perfect models, puppies, and locations. You can also double-check the image on the internet to see where else it comes up. Also check images to see if the puppies look unwell, unhygienic or have injuries. Check the classified’s reviews and past reviews from the seller. Most websites allow you to do so by clicking on their username.

finding a breeder online
Use the Internet to shortlist breeders and visit them to see their facilities and current litters.

Here are some popular US and UK classified websites:

We do not recommend finding a breeder from classifieds. While you may find some great exceptions, a lot of ads are scammy or posted by large-scale commercial breeders.

Finding an ethical breeder offline

Offline searches, although less common, still need to be evaluated for pros and cons to find the correct breeder. Events and word of mouth can be a way you hear about a breeder you wish to research or purchase from.

Dog shows and events

Dog shows and events are a great way to network, and consequently, to find a reputable dog breeder! With so many breeders in one area, you can have a thorough discussion with them about their motives, goals, and treatments. Even more so by examining the dogs they have brought alongside them for anxiety or health issues.

Although this method has mainly positives, there are negatives. Some backyard breeders may be able to present themselves positively despite negative motives or poor care overall. Poor breeders may bring dogs along with them that are not theirs, in an attempt to showcase themselves positively.

Furthermore, what a breeder is telling you at a show may not be true and without proof, you cannot guarantee it to be true. Pay attention to how the breeder acts with the dogs and speaks about them if it is informal be aware and be cautious.

Word of mouth

Often you may get a recommendation from a friend or colleague of a good dog breeder. As they are usually recommending the whole experience of interactions, to meeting the dog, purchasing and owning the puppy, you can usually trust that they have had a good experience and so should you! Just be careful if the person is recommending a relative or good friend as this may be biased and not an accurate review.

The reputation of a breeder is sacred and browse online forums, search on Google, and conduct your due diligence in order to ensure dealings only with the best dog breeders out there.

How to screen a dog breeder to ensure they’re reputable

dog breeders vs puppy farmers
If people knew how bad puppy mills are, they would never call a responsible dog breeder a puppy farmer.

Buying a dog from a backyard breeder will fund their poor care of animals and allow them to breed more, possibly unhealthy puppies. Going to a reputable breeder funds ethical breeders and continues a moral business. It also allows you to purchase a healthy and happy individual. You can screen breeders using multiple techniques such as conducting interviews, visiting their house, asking for references, certificates and checking the validity and procedures behind where they are being advertised.

Visit the breeder’s house

By visiting the breeder’s house, you are able to see their normal interactions with the dogs, the dog’s behavioral reactions to the breeder and the conditions they are kept in. You can spend time with the puppies and see if they have been well socialized, a sign of a good breeder. Are the dogs healthy, without injury or unexplained illness? Are the conditions clean where the dogs are living? All these questions can explain how much time and care have gone into the dogs and puppies.

Furthermore, you can have a face to face conversation with the breeder and put them on the spot to ask them questions. Research care of puppies and question the breeders on answers you know, such as weening, birth and health concerns. If they seem to not be aware of these answers it is a red flag. Ask what their process is for rehoming and checking a family is appropriate, breeders should be concerned about the puppies’ forever home.

Conduct interviews

Visit the breeder with the intent to conduct an interview of their knowledge of breeding and caring for puppies and dogs. By doing so you will be able to tell how knowledgeable they have on the topic. The more knowledgeable, the more you can have faith in your breeder providing appropriate care for the dogs and puppies in their possession.

You’ll want to create a questionnaire to analyze the breeder’s knowledge and care of dogs. There are a few categories you should inspect including dog health, birth, weening, enrichment, training, and socialization.

puppy socialization by dog trainers for dog breeders
As the dog breeder, you must know how to get a litter of puppies through several stages of socialization.

You may not need to know about birthing and weening in puppies, but these are crucial and life-changing areas of a puppies growth and a breeder must know the importance of them. A breeder who does not know the care around birth can lead to a higher death rate of puppies and the mother. Weening is important to know as the mother’s milk can help increase antibiotic resistance and growth in the puppies, but weening them at the appropriate time helps with growth and the proper vitamins being supplied.

Enrichment, training, and socialization all provide the puppy with lifelong skills and help them become much more adoptable. All breeders’ ultimate goal should be to have a happy and healthy puppy appropriately rehomed, financial management is important but should not come before this. Furthermore, good training and socialization mean breeders can sell the puppies for a higher profit, so really it benefits every aspect of their work.


Ask for health certificates

A health certificate is a must-have. And, if the breeder you are talking to cannot show you one, walk away! These certificates show how healthy the parents and puppies are and you should not buy a puppy before seeing these. You want to check these to ensure the puppy you are buying is of full health and you are not being lied to. Also, a responsible breeder will want to check the health of puppies and dogs to care for them properly and be able to prove that.

Check they’re at shows

As previously discussed, dog shows can help you find reputable breeders but it is not guaranteed. Is the show you’re attending ethical and reputable? Check the reviews of it online before believing that because they are attending a show they are reputable. You can also converse with other well-known breeders or clubs at the show and ask about their reputation and attendance. A breeder may tell you that they are attending a show and not actually do so. It may be worth attending any shows they state they will be visiting to see their attendance.

Many dog breeders do not partake in shows and that’s okay too. Just make sure they have their own good reasons for not doing so, especially if their puppies are above market price.

Politics & Pooches in the dog show world.
Politics & Pooches in the dog show world.

Ask for references

A high-quality and reputable breeder will be more than happy to provide multiple references to prove they are known and respected in the industry. Backyard breeders will rarely be able to provide genuine references.

Make sure to look up any references given to check their validity. This will give you peace of mind and also, every good breeder should feel reassured that you are that concerned about their morality. If they seem annoyed or reluctant to provide references, this is a red flag.

Good breeders and responsible owners work well together because they both have the motive to worry and care about the dog’s health and happiness. Therefore, any concerns you have should be calmed by the breeder and they should be happy that their puppies are going to a responsible owner. Any sign of this not being the case may display a backyard breeder.

One comment on “How To Find Reputable Dog Breeders”

  1. Victoria Addington

    Thanks for helping me identify a reputable dog breeder. Since I’d like to purchase one after seeing German Shepherd puppies for sale online, I couldn’t help but be doubtful if the seller is a qualified breeder. With that said, I’ll then make sure to check the site’s reviews and past reviews from the seller and check the photos posted by the customers to see if the breeder is legitimate.

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