Puppy search is never easy, especially when you do not have anyone to help you. That is why we decided to release this guide exclusively for you, which will help you to find the ideal puppy. There are several factors to consider, but we have put it all together to help you get a healthy puppy that will meet your needs and expectations.
You will discover how to find reputable breeders, where to find puppies for sale, what to look for and how to avoid scammers. Getting a puppy and raising it – which implies training, care, housebreaking, and permanent attention – is not a walk in the park, but it is completely worth it because you will have a lifetime friend that will love and protect you and your family.
While this article comprehensively details the various ways to find breeders and puppies both online and offline, my stance as the founder of Breeding Business is clear. Use online means to research, shortlist, and get in touch with breeders, but never buy online without viewing the facilities, litter, and parents. The same goes with puppy stores – you have no visibility on the pup’s breeder and ethics.
Where to Find the Right Puppy?
From now, you must know that finding the right puppy requires plenty of time and a strong commitment. It all starts with figuring out the type of dog you want (temperament, functions, suitability for apartment living, etc.) and continues with finding a reputable breeder. We will take you by the hand throughout the entire process.
The entire has made puppy search much more practical, but it still requires plenty of time and dedication to explore, screen and prospect. We will explain to you each online channel in detail, along with practical tips.
For dog breeders, selling puppies online is an easy way to reach people beyond their locality. It’s great leverage!
Facebook (groups & pages)
Thanks to social media, it has become much easier to connect with breeder and dog communities. Facebook has several active groups and pages where you can get your new puppy.
The good thing about Facebook is that they have banned puppy mills from their marketplace, so you can be sure that your chances of finding an ethical and reputable breeder will be much higher. Furthermore, according to the rules of Facebook, it is prohibited to sell animals.
However, Facebook groups and pages allow you to connect with excellent breeders. The key here is to find groups and pages that match your location or breed you want to buy, and thanks to the built-in function, it is rather easy.
For example, if you wanted to buy a Cocker Spaniel, then you should join groups like Cocker Spaniel Nation. It has nearly 1,500 members, the members are active and you can connect with reputable breeders.
The same goes if you wanted to buy a Pitbull in the USA. You could join a group like Pitbull Puppies, with over 18,000 members, an active community and it has good breeders who can sell you a healthy puppy.
Now, as a final example, if you wanted to buy a Dalmatian because its temperament meets your expectations, then you should join Dalmatian Puppies – Advertising, a group where you can connect with reputable breeders to make your dream come true!
To summarize, only use the search function of Facebook by typing [breed] + “puppies” and then filter it by groups. You will find plenty of options.
If you are looking for something more serious than Facebook and social media, then you can always resort to breeder directories, which contain the contact information of screened and filtered breeders.
Because the dog community – which includes breeders and owners – want to make the buy and sell process as ethical and transparent as possible, nowadays we have plenty of high-quality directories. Here you have the best examples:
- American Kennel Club – Without any doubt, one of the most reputable and trustable directories you will find. From Afghan Hounds to Icelandic Sheepdogs, they have a reputable suggestion for every breed
- PuppyFind.com – One of the most reputable directories on the internet with plenty of listing for different dog breeds
- Worldwide Breeder Map – Find reputable breeders across the globe thanks to Puppy Culture. A different and innovative take on directories
- Canadian Mastiff Club – Find excellent breeders in the USA, Canada, Europe, and Australia
Now you have four excellent suggestions. However, if you find another directory, always check their online reputation: read reviews and check ratings to get a clear idea if you can trust their suggestions or not.
Google is the biggest search engine on the internet, and therefore, it is an excellent tool for finding your puppy. All you need to do is to search for queries like:
- [Your chosen breed] + “puppies for sale” + [location]
- [Your chosen breed] + “breeders” + [location]
- “Buy” + [your chosen breed] + “puppies” + [location]
For example, if you wanted to buy an Icelandic Sheepdog in Utah, then you would have to search for “Icelandic Sheepdog puppies for sale in Utah”.
Nonetheless, the hardest part here is to screen all of the options that Google presents you, in order to see if it is a good buy or not. We recommend you to follow these tips:
- Use the three different variations we have shared with you, and make a list with at least 10 different options
- Check the online reputation of each website or listing by searching its name on Google + “reviews” or “ratings”
- Discard the options without history or bad reputation*
- With the options that are left, proceed to contact them to see the puppies in person
In some cases, when we talk about very niche breeds and in smaller cities or locations, some pages or listings might not have history, and in consequence, no records that can attest for their reputation.
In that case, just proceed to contact them to see the puppies in person and request all the documentation necessary: breeding rights, health checks, pedigree, etc.
Google Alerts – Pro Tip
To make you remain alert of the latest listings, we recommend you to use Google Alerts. It is very easy to configure:
- Click the textbox and type in your preferred search query (ex: “Puppies for sale San Antonio”)
- Adjust the settings to filter it by language (in case you want to search in another language), preferred sources, region, and frequency
- Enter your email address
That is all. You will receive new alerts as soon as they appear, so you can be the first one to check and screen them.
Fortunately, nowadays we have a great collection of breeding pages and websites that make it easier to get in contact with reputable breeders. Therefore, it is worth it to visit and check the pages that breeders visit frequently.
Here you have a list with the most popular websites amongst breeders:
- Canine Chronicle – It looks a bit old school, but it is very popular, and hence, breeders often advertise on their website. You can find and connect with reputable sellers
- American Kennel Club – One of the most prominent websites and they also have a directory
- The Kennel Club – One of the most reputable sources in the world of dog breeding
You should also search for websites from independent breeders. You can do that thanks to the tips we brought to you in the Google Search section. Just remember to follow our tips to filter and separate the doubtful options.
Many breeders pay for online advertisement on the major search engines such as Google and Bing, as well as the biggest social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition, they also pay for placements on blogs and websites about dogs.
Here is a list of the top 5 websites that breeders are using to advertise their puppies:
- VIP Pets – One of the best options out there, because they ask you key questions to match you with the right breeder
- My Pet Search – It is very similar to VIP Pets, and you will find plenty of breeders willing to sell you a healthy puppy that matches the standards of its breed
- Wuuff – One of the most popular websites for advertising amongst breeders, and on top of that, their search function makes everything easier
- Gumtree – It is not a puppies website, but rather a marketplace that allows sellers in general, including breeders, to place their ads
- Next Day Pets – One of the oldest options around with a solid reputation, and therefore, breeders use it very often to advertise new litters
If you prefer to do it the old school way, then you can always resort to the offline channels. Here is how you to use them to find the puppy that you and your family are looking for.
Dog shows are ideal for finding reputable breeders who can bring you a puppy from a bloodline of champions. You get to see the parents in action, and in addition, you get the total security that you are getting a puppy whose parents meet the standards of the breed. If you are searching for your founding stock, dog shows are the ideal starting place.
Therefore, we recommend you to search for upcoming dog shows, so you can assist and connect with excellent breeders who can make your dream come true!
You need to assist to several shows to get a good list of breeders, who you can benchmark against each other to find the best possible puppy. You can check the upcoming events at AKC’s Calendar.
Assisting to dog shows will also allow you to immerse into the world of your chosen breed. You can ask trainers and breeders key questions about the puppy you want to buy, so you can get tips and confirm your decision.
Word of mouth
As marketers say, word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Therefore, it is always worth it to ask around for the best breeders for a certain breed in clubs, circles, and friends and family who own that breed. You can also ask a veterinarian directly.
Overall, just contact all the people that you trust that has the kind of puppy you want, so you can hear their suggestions to begin your search.
Similar to word of mouth, referrals are a good way to find a reputable breeder. For example, if you know a reputable seller who breeds Poodles, then you could ask him/her about someone who breeds the kind of puppy you want to purchase.
Of course, you should always screen every referral you get. You will find all the information about this in the next section about how to spot scammers and how to recognize reputable breeders.
You should have already figured out what dog breed will suit your expectations and needs the best, and therefore, it is logical to visit breed clubs. There you will find all the information and help you will ever need with finding a puppy and raise it properly.
These clubs often have members that are active breeders, who can evidently, help you to get a healthy puppy that complies with all the requisites of the breed.
In addition to assisting to dog shows, this is one of the best ways to involve yourself in the community. If you are interested in doing this, then you should check the directory of breed clubs by AKC.
Nothing more old school than offline advertisements. You should visit pet services like veterinary clinics, dog shops, and grooming centers because often you will find flyers and ads that will help you with finding a puppy you will fall in love with.
You should check newspapers and magazines about dogs, evidently. Here you have a list of the best-printed magazines:
- The Bark
- AKC Family Dog
- Dogster Magazine
- Animal Wellness Magazine
- Whole Dog Journal
- K9 Magazine
On top of learning a lot more about dogs, you will find plenty of advertisements that will lead you in the right direction.
How to spot bad breeders and scammers?
Unfortunately, the market for puppies has many scammers and bad breeders who are in the business just to make money. They do not care about puppies, the breed or the families they sell the dogs to. Here is how to spot them to avoid them at all cost.
If the price sounds too good to be true, then you might be in front of a scammer. For example, the average price of a French poodle is $1,000 USD. If the breeder is willing to sell it to you for $200-300 USD, you can easily tell that something is not right.
Always consult the average price of the pup you want to buy and compare it against the price offered by the breeder. If it is way off, then you should stay away.
When a “breeder” is only in for the money, they do not have a passion, and therefore, their knowledge is often poor and limited. You should ask them key questions about the breeds:
- What is the average lifespan?
- What is the ideal skull and face shape and appearance? (ask anything about the appearance standards)
- What are the recognized coat colors?
- What is the ancestry of the breed?
- What are the most common health issues?
- What are the most important care tips? (example: early socialization, plenty of daily exercises, the recommended diet, etc.)
If they fail to answer these questions precisely and with confidence, you can tell that they are bad breeders and potential scammers.
Any reputable breeder will allow you to check all the pertinent documentation:
- Full Registration and Breeding Rights (AKC Registered)
- Health Checks and Tests to discard genetic defects and congenital issues
- Pedigree Certificate to confirm it is authentic and to check its ancestry
As a plus, you should ask for a Certificate of Ownership, which is a legal document that shows the puppy registered in the name of the breeder. It is optional, although.
You must always ask for documentation because without it, the breeder cannot prove anything, and in consequence, you might become the victim of a fraud.
A reputable breeder will never object you to observe the litter in person and to meet the mother. In addition, the breeder should be more than willing to show you where they raise the puppies.
Transparency is a determining factor here because it will allow you to see if you are dealing with a breeder who treats his/her dogs ethically and with respect, or with a scammer who runs a puppy mill, which treats dog badly.
Therefore, if the breeder opposes you to check the litter, meet the mother and see where they raise the puppies, then it is a huge red flag and you should avoid it at all cost.
How to tell if a breeder is reputable and trustworthy?
The market also has many excellent and reputable breeders who can bring you the ideal and healthy puppy you are looking for. Here is how you can recognize an authentic breeder.
Excellent Knowledge about the Breed
A reputable and trustworthy breeder is in the game not for the money, but to fulfill its mission: to maintain and improve the breed. Therefore, he/she will have lots of knowledge about the breed. Ask as many questions as you can to prove it. Here are some good ideas:
- What is the history and ancestry of the breed?
- What are the appearance standards?
- What is the temperament of the dog?
- What is the use of the dog? (example: hunter, ratter, companion, etc.)
- What are the most common health issues?
If he/she responds everything with plenty of detail, you can tell that it is a passionate breeder that actually cares about the breed.
Wants to Know If You Will be a Good Fit for the Puppy
A reputable breeder will always want to know if you will be a good fit for the puppy. He/she will ask you questions like:
- Do you have children at home?
- Do you live in a house or an apartment? Is it spacious or small?
- Do you leave your home alone for several hours every day?
- Do you have other dogs or pets at home?
Based on your answers, he/she will have an idea if you are a good fit or not. Their mission is to find a good home and family for their puppies, so they have to screen your property. At least, that is what reputable and ethical breeders do.
They will be more than willing to show you the litter, where they are raising the puppies, and of course, you will be able to meet the parents. They will be completely transparent, so you can see that they actually care about the puppies and the breed.
Easy to Contact
Bad breeders are just in for the money, and therefore, once you buy the puppy they will disappear. On the other hand, good breeders will be easy to contact, because, from the moment you buy a puppy from them, you will begin a lifetime relationship.
They will be willing and even encourage you to contact them if you ever have questions or problems, so they can assist you because it is their mission to maintain and improve the breed.
A reputable breeder will give you all the correspondent documentation to show you that you are getting an authentic and healthy puppy:
- Full AKC Registration + Breeding Rights
- Full Pedigree Certificate
- Health Tests and History to discard genetic defects and congenital diseases
- Certificate of Ownership
The contract is another huge factor that differentiates authentic breeders from scammers. Here are the most important characteristics that it should contain:
- Health Insurance that certifies that the puppy is free from genetic defects
- Replacement Guarantee in case your puppy presents genetic defects because the breeder will be willing to replace it with a puppy from a new litter (you will have to present proofs)
- Restrictions on Exercise up to when the puppy turns 1 year old
- Return Policy in case the owner cannot keep the puppy any longer so that they can return it to the breeder
- Breeding rights that detail whether or not you can decide to breed the puppy at your own will
The contract will depend on the breeder, but these elements should be present.
Now you have a complete guide about puppy search, which will help you with finding a puppy from an ethical and good breeder that will make your dreams come true!