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How To Check a Dog Breeder – References, Testimonials & Investigation

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Get a minimum of two references from people who have bought puppies from the breeder.
  • Ensure the breeder is registered with legitimate kennel registries such as AKC, CKC, UKC, or FCI.
  • Verify the breeder's license, if applicable, through USDA or Kennel Club directories.
  • Visit the breeder in person to check the living conditions and health of the puppies.
  • Ask the breeder specific questions about the puppy's age, vaccinations, socialization, etc.
  • Read testimonials and reviews of the breeder online.
  • Check the breeder's website for transparent information, certifications, and photos.
  • Review the breeder's social media presence for additional information and interactions.
  • If possible, meet other clients who have purchased puppies from the same breeder to ask questions and assess the health and satisfaction of their dogs.
Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Reviewed by Lazhar Ichir
Founded BREEDING BUSINESS in 2015, read by millions of pet owners globally and recognized by prestigious publications.
Published on
Tuesday 2 June 2020
Last updated on
Monday 6 November 2023
How To Check A Dog Breeder
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Before you buy a puppy, hold on, you need to learn how to check dog breeders. It will allow you to buy a healthy dog that will bring you tons of happiness and satisfaction. It only takes 20 minutes because that is all you need to read our exclusive guide.

We are going to show you how to find the best local dog breeders and the proper method to checking dog breeders’ websites and every single detail in them. Therefore, you can buy a healthy, active and ideal puppy for your family.

Tips on How to Check Dog Breeders

To make it easy to understand, we have divided our guide in simple, concise tips. Once you have finished reading our tips, you will be ready to screen dog breeders, to choose the ideal one.

Get a Minimum of Two References

References are essential in business, as they bring you a real proof about the quality of a specific service or product, and when it comes to dog breeding, they are unavoidable. They allow you to qualify a breeder, to see if you should consider it or directly discard it.

Set two references as the absolute minimum, but of course, try to get more. You should get it from actual owners who have bought their puppies from the breeder, and props to you if you know such persons in real life; nonetheless, it is not always possible.

Therefore, you should join Facebook groups dedicated to the breed you want to buy, and even better if it is a local group, as well as forums, so you can directly ask the members for their references about the breeder you want to screen. Once you have received enough responses, talk with such persons in private, via email, on the phone, messages, etc. You name it; the thing here is to get as many details a you can, so you can use them to make a decision.

Ensure They Have Proper Kennel Registries

A reputable dog breeder needs to have proper kennel registry because it allows you to see that they have complied with all the documentation and standards necessary to breed a specific dog breed.

Nowadays, we have several kennel registries. We are going to name the legitimate ones, which enjoy of the highest reputation. However, we are also going to cover the lesser-known registries, and share with you a list of fake kennel registries, which do not bring any sort of legitimacy. As a bonus, we are also include a list of kennel registries for working dogs, so you can screen the breeder properly.

Legitimate Kennel Registries

If a dog breeder is listed at any of the following kennels, then they are legitimate and therefore, a good option. However, you still need to get references, visit them in person, and check testimonials.

Niche Kennel Registries

The following kennel registries are rare or new, and therefore, they should not be your only source of validation when screening a dog breeder.

Working Dog Kennel Registries

They are rare to come by, but they exist and they are very useful when screening a breeder, if you intend to buy a dog of this kind, such as the Black Russian Terrier.

Fake Kennel Registries

The following kennel registries are fake and do not hold any sort of legitimacy, and therefore, you should avoid the breeders listed here:

  • Universal Kennel Club (UKC)
  • Canine Registration and Certification Services (CRCS)
  • Continental Kennel Club (CKC) – Not to be confused with the legitimate Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
  • American Canine Association (ACA)
  • World Kennel Club (WKC)
  • National Kennel Club (NKC)
  • United All Breed Registry (UABR)
  • World Wide Kennel Club (WWKC)
  • Dog Registry of America (DRA)
  • North American Mixed Breed Registry (NAMBR)
  • All American Premier Breeds Association (AAPBA)
  • North American Purebred Dog Registry (NAPDR)
  • Federation of International Canines (FIC)
  • Universal Kennel Club International (UKCI)
  • Animal Registry Unlimited (ARU)
  • American Pet Registry, Inc. (APRI)

Check Their License

Similar to proper kennel registries, the dog breeder needs to have a valid license (if applicable). Therefore, to make it easy for you, you can verify it by visiting the following links:

Licenses are important because the institutions that issue them ensure that dog breeders comply with the following standards:

  • The dogs live in comfortable, optimal conditions
  • They receive the adequate nutrition, water, bedding and assistance
  • The facilities ensure protection against emergencies such as a fire
  • The dogs have enough space to get exercise
  • The breeder has optimal transportation conditions for the dogs
  • The breeder has everything that is needed to prevent the spread of disease

Therefore, it is a requisite for the breeder to own a valid license, which you have to verify yourself. Certifications are not always required, just like license.

Visit in Person

Having proper kennel registries, a valid license, and trustworthy references is a good start. However, you need to prove it with your own eyes, and therefore, you need to visit the breeder in person.

Make sure to check the standards that the licensing process considers, which we have already covered in the previous section. They ensure that you are receiving a puppy that is healthy. Which is both ethical and good for you, as it means you will minimize your risk of receiving a puppy with potential health issues.

Any breeder that does not allow you to visit in person is a breeder to avoid, because it means they are hiding something and are most likely a backyard breeder. Remember, when it comes to buying a puppy, it is a deal breaker.

visit the breeder in person
Visit the breeder in person to avoid buying from unethical breeders.

Ask Any Questions You Have

Now that you have visited the breeder in person, it is essential to ask all the questions you have. Do not limit yourself, because you have to clear all of your doubts. If you do it online, it does not matter, you still need to ask all the questions you have in mind. If you do not know what to ask, then make sure to ask the following questions, because they are a sure way to validate the real quality of a dog breeder:

  1. What is the age of the puppy?
  2. Can I see the puppy with its mother and father?
  3. Can I see the full litter? (The answer should be a yes)
  4. Have you socialized the puppies? (The answer should be a yes and specific)
  5. Have you weaned the puppies? (The answer must be a firm yes)
  6. What diet should I give my puppy? (The more specific the answer, the better)
  7. What vaccinations has the puppy received? (The answer must be positive and detailed)
  8. When is the next vaccination dose due? (The answer must be specific)
  9. What additional treatments has the puppy received? (The breeder must be transparent and specific)
  10. Do you have the copies of health certificates of the mother and father? (The answer must be a yes and they should be willing to share it with you)
  11. If the puppy presents health issues, can I return it? (They must be willing to receive it back and bring you a full refund)
  12. Do you bring a contract sale? (The breeder must bring it, because all reputable breeders do it)

Now you have enough questions to screen a breeder properly. Even though you can ask them online, it would be ideal if you could do it in person, so you can get all the proof in your presence and to check dog breeders for yourself. For example, if you ask the breeder the question number #6 and they answers you with plenty of detail, then you can tell he/she has extensive knowledge about the breeder, which is a major positive sign.

Read Testimonials

After you have completed all the aforementioned steps, you should supplement it with reading testimonials. You should read the ones you find on their website and social media, but also make sure to type the name of the breeder on Google – or their business name – and addition the word “review” or “testimonial” to obtain unbiased feedback.

The testimonials should be authentic, and therefore, they should bring plenty of details and if possible photos of the puppies and the new owners. Because you are not looking for merely good reviews, but actual feedback that vouches for the breeder.

Check their Website

You can do it as an additional measure, or before all the aforementioned steps, because a professional, high quality website is another sign of trust. Ideally, it should have the following features:

  • A clear and transparent about us page
  • A detailed page dedicated to their history
  • A page that contains all the contact info such as phone number, email, social media.
  • A page that shows you all the certifications, licenses and qualifications that accredit the breeder
  • Plenty of photos of the puppies, the mother, the parent and the facilities
  • A blog that shows the expertise of the breeder about the breed, sharing tips about nutrition, training, responsible breeding.
  • Authentic testimonials with photos and full descriptions that bring you enough details to learn more about the breeder, their puppies and the clients who bought from them

Design wise, many dog breeders do not bring a good user experience on their website, but here we are looking at the most important indicators of trust, and therefore, you need to look for them when reviewing a breeder’s website.

Observe Their Social Media Presence

A great way to supplement all of your screening process is to check a dog breeder’s social media presence. Find all the profiles that belong to the dog breeder, so you can check everything they have posted, all the interactions they received such as messages, and of course, feedback, reviews, ratings and complaints.

Similar to their website, they should disclose everything such as photos of the puppies – props if they updated them constantly – depicting the facilities, socializing the puppies, giving them enough exercise, etc.

If they take it seriously to share their mission with the rest of the world, in a completely transparent and detailed way, then you should consider them, because it means they have nothing to hide from you or other potential buyers.

Meet the People Who Raised the Dog

Finally, if you can do it, it is a good idea to visit clients who have raised puppies from the same breeder. You can ask questions in person, check that the dogs are healthy and have not developed frequent health issues of the breed and that the owners are entirely happy with their purchase.

Checking Dog Breeders – FAQs

We have found that aspiring dog owners tend to ask these questions about dog breeders. Therefore, we have answered them precisely, so you can get the guidance you need right now.

How do I Check a Dog Breeder’s License?

It depends on the country, but in the case of the USA, you need to consult with the USDA. Which has made it easy by bringing you a searchable directory which you can check here.

In the case of the UK, you can consult with The Kennel Club, which has a directory that allows you to check if a breeder has a valid license. You can use the tool by clicking here.

For other countries, you need to ask the breeder themself to show you his/her license, or alternatively, contact the institution that issues dog-breeding licenses in your country, so you can verify that the breeder holds a valid and active license.

Where Can I Find Dog Breeders?

The easiest way to find reputable and trustable dog breeders is by checking legitimate kennel registries such as the American Kennel Club, The Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club and the Federation Cynologique Internationale.

Alternatively, you can ask on forums, relevant Facebook groups and online communities. Nonetheless, remember to follow a strict screening process that must involve ensuring that the breeder holds appropriate kennel registries, a valid license, trustworthy references, great expertise about the breed and full disclosure with you about the parents, health certifications, treatments, vaccinations, etc.

How Can You Tell a Bad Dog Breeder?

You can easily tell a bad dog breeder by checking the following signs:

  • They do not have knowledge about the breed
  • The breeder will not disclose with you information about the parents
  • They will not let you visit the puppy in person, if they refuse to share photos of the facilities with you
  • They are not accredited with any major kennel registry such as the AKC or The Kennel Club from the UK
  • The breeder will not have testimonials and none can bring you references
  • They have bad reviews online

In the vast majority of cases, if they show any or all of the previous signs, you can easily tell that they is a bad breeder, and therefore, you must avoid it.

Are All Dog Breeders Bad?

Not all dog breeders are bad, because it depends on several factors. If they hold a valid license, then it means they bring their puppies, the mother, and the father optimal living conditions. In addition, a good breeder will always have proper kennel registries. These are the main factors to consider when you check dog breeders.

Furthermore, if a breeder openly discloses everything about the breeding process, and allows you to visit in person and shares with you all the documentation that you ask, then you can tell it is a good breeder. Moreover, a good breeder will have plenty of good reviews and testimonials.

On the other hand, a bad breeder will not disclose information at all, will not have testimonial or positive recommendations, and of course, will not have a valid license or proper kennel registries.

What is a Kennel Registry?

A kennel registry, also known as a kennel club, is an institution that records breed standards, hosts pedigree records and brings rules for dog shows, trials and events, as well as accrediting the judges. They register purebred dogs of certified breeds as well as their litters, and information about the breeders.

Therefore, kennel registries are a reliable source of information when screening a dog breeder, because if they are reputable, then they will have kennel registries at the major clubs like the AKC, CKC, FCI and The Kennel Club from the UK.

You can never be too cautious when checking dog breeders. This may be the new member of your household and you should feel very comfortable in your choice of dog breeder. Follow our guide and always trust your gut.

3 comments on “How To Check a Dog Breeder – References, Testimonials & Investigation”

  1. Sue

    ” if the puppy presents with health issues the breeder should receive it back and bring you a full refund”

    Yes and No, this is the accurate answer.
    If the puppy presents with GENETIC HEALTH ISSUES, the breeder should take the puppy back and offer either a full refund or a new puppy per the terms of the signed sales contract. If the puppy presents with parvovirus or distemper within 72 hours of pickup, the breeder should take a puppy back and issue a full refund.

    If the buyer has failed to stay current on vaccines and has exposed their puppy to parvovirus, distemper, leptospirosis or any other contagious disease that was acquired in the owner’s home, the breeder should not have to give a refund for the owners negligence. If the puppy has been hit by a car or mauled by the neighbor’s dog, the breeder is not responsible for refunding the price of the puppy due to the owner’s negligence.

  2. Jeannette Latour

    My puppy began having seizures 8 hours after coming 8 weeks old. Breeder paid vet bills because he did not want post mortem exam and wanted the file transfered ti his name..he refuses to issue a refund. He has offered replacement..which I am reluctant to accept.

    1. Lisa Beck

      Demand a refund and tell him you will report him to his local council and vet plus RSPCA and you will make it public if he does not.
      However if he’s paying all the vet fees was this agreed by you instead of a refund?
      You could find yourself arguing about this and at the end of the day it’s the puppies welfare that of upmost importance, if it were me I would keep puppy accept he pays all vet fees and get this in writing and then report him .
      Good luck

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