Dog Breeders: How To Find a Good Dog Breeder

By Michele Welton

dog breederWhen you hear the words "dog breeder", you probably don't picture Margie Denton.

Margie is 68 years old. She lives in an apartment with her two Shih Tzus, Dolly and Buster. Margie tried to keep them apart when Dolly was in heat.... but alas, Margie eventually had to put an ad in the local newspaper: "Purebred AKC Shih Tzu puppies."

Would it surprise you to learn that with her single litter, Margie is a breeder?

You might picture a "dog breeder" as a professional person who knows a lot about dogs, owns magnificent "pedigreed" dogs, and carefully plans each breeding to produce excellent pets for you and me.

If so, you're going to be disappointed to discover that most breeders are simply people who bred two dogs together, deliberately or accidentally, and got some puppies, which they're now trying to trade for money.

Here's the real definition of "dog breeder": a person who owns a female dog who has a litter. One litter is all it takes.

  • Even if that person simply owns two pets who were bred together and the puppies advertised in the newspaper.
  • Even if the breeding was accidental.
  • Even if the puppies are crossbreds or mixes.

So unless a mother dog is truly homeless with no owner, every puppy born has a breeder. For any puppy then, whether purebred, crossbred, or mixed, the question you should ask yourself is:

Was this puppy's breeder knowledgeable and responsible....
or unknowledgeable and irresponsible?

You should ask this question because the answer can make a difference in whether that puppy turns out to be a good pet.

You see, even within the same breed, puppies are not churned out of a mold. The knowledge and skill of the breeder – first, in how he selects the parents, and second, in how he raises the puppies – can make a difference in how a puppy turns out.

So how do you tell the difference between a knowledgeable, responsible breeder and an unknowledgeable, irresponsible breeder?

book coverYou open my book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams to page 226 and use my FAMILY COMPANION GUIDELINES™ – 15 things every breeder should be doing to produce good-tempered, healthy pets.

You should have this list in hand before you start contacting breeders. If a breeder isn't doing these 15 things, you're taking a risk buying one of their puppies.

How will you know whether a breeder is doing these 15 things? On pages 293-331, I tell you how to evaluate the breeder's web site, looking for specific things that give that breeder away as "good" or "risky."

On pages 332-345, I tell you how to contact a breeder by email or telephone – the exact questions you should ask, what answers you should expect, and which answers are "red flags" that mean you should stay away.

Finding breeders? Pages 229-292.

Did you know that each breed has certain health tests that should be done on the puppy's parents before they were bred? Sadly, most breeders don't do these tests. Which means their puppies are at higher risk for developing health problems as they grow up.

If you want the safest puppy, you must be sure the breeder has done the right tests.... you can't just take his word for it.... it's too important and breeders do lie.... so you must know how to verify that the tests were done. Pages 310-311 and 367.

Buying a puppy long-distance? Pages 346-348.

And if you decide to adopt a dog from the animal shelter or a rescue group, instead of buying from a breeder, you're covered here, too! Plus temperament-testing and more.

Learn more about Dog Quest

Michele Welton with BuffyMichele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.