Reputable Breeder Checklist


The Complete Reputable Breeder Checklist

Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by Denise Leo. Post first published on February 1, 2023.

I am a dog owner and have researched all the different things to look for in a reputable breeder. But, first, you must find one responsible, has good breeding practices, and offers health guarantees for their puppies.

Check out this post to learn more about how to spot a breeder who is ethical and caring. I hope this article helps puppy buyers decide where to buy or adopt their next pet.

When deciding which dog breeder to buy a pet from, you first need to figure out what breed of dog you want. Once that decision has been made, it’s time to start looking for breeders specializing in those breeds and having high-quality dogs.

Ever wonder what it takes to be a good dog breeder? A responsible, reputable breeder will only breed the healthiest dogs, breed to the breed standard, and screen for genetic defects. They will also prove their dogs at dog shows before breeding.

The best way to find a healthy, well-bred purebred puppy is by researching different breeds and specific breeders before making any decisions. So, whether buying your first dog or getting ready to bring a new puppy into the family, make sure you know what’s really important when picking the perfect pup.

what to look for in a reputable dog breeder
What to look for in a reputable dog breeder.

How Do You Know if a Breeder is Reputable?

There are many things to look for when deciding what breed of dog to buy, but one crucial factor is the breeder’s reputation. A good breeder will care about their dogs and puppies, ensuring they socialize with people and other animals from an early age.

They should also be able to answer any questions about your new pet or give sound advice on how to take care of it.

Here are some traits that make a good breeder:

A reputable breeder will meet with potential buyers in person before selling them a purebred puppy. They’ll also provide information about vaccinations, registration papers, and medical history from birth.

Things you need to look for when assessing a potential dog breeder:

  • Do they have papers proving the pedigree?
  • Having one or more parents with health clearances.
  • What health guarantees do the breeder offer?
  • Is their breeding area clean and well-maintained?
  • How many litters a year do they produce per animal?
  • Are all animals registered with either AKC( American Kennel Club) or CKC (Canadian Kennel Club)? If not, why not?
  • Does the breeder offer life-long support after adoption?
How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder
How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder

How to Find Responsible Dog Breeders

Responsible breeders know that buying a puppy is an important decision, and they want their clients to be happy with their purchase. Therefore, they will not sell the pup unless we feel confident in its health and temperament.

Another critical consideration for the breeder is the suitability of the purchaser. Responsible breeders don’t just take the money – they vet the potential new home before letting puppies go to new homes.

Good dog breeders won’t sell their puppies to the first person with cash. Too often, unsuspecting people buy from puppy mills and end up paying a high price for an unhealthy or wrongfully-bred animal that their environment may have mentally scarred before coming into your life.

How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder
How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder

Reputable Breeder Checklist

  • Reputable breeders will show you all areas where their puppies and breeding dogs spend time. Those spaces are clean, spacious, and well-maintained! The animals appear healthy-looking with a lively temperament that doesn’t shy away from visitors; they’re happy to see new faces.
  • A responsible breeder is more than willing to show you their dogs and the areas in which they spend time. These are clean spaces with plenty of room for puppies or adult animals.
    Responsible breeders keep their breeding dogs as any good owner would: not crowded, dirty, or continually confined to cages. They will house their dogs in accommodation that meets the needs of each particular breed; for example, most small dog breeds are kept inside the home.
  • Good breeders are happy to provide insights on how you can best care for your new puppy. They’re available before and after purchase.
  • Responsible breeders will provide references from other families who have purchased one of their puppies.
  • A good dog breeder will have a strong relationship with one or more local veterinarians and can show you individual records for your puppy’s health.
  • Reputable breeders are committed to producing healthy, happy puppies. Breed-specific problems can be addressed with documented proof of genetic testing and proper evaluation by qualified professionals in an effort to eliminate these genetic diseases from future generations.
  • Good dog breeders are usually actively involved with their national breed clubs. They also compete with the dogs in confirmation events, obedience trials, tracking and agility trials, or other performance events.
  • Dog breeders should provide you with a written sales contract and health guarantee to ensure both parties know what is expected.
  • A responsible breeder knows what they are doing. They don’t always have puppies but may keep a list of interested people for future litters or refer you to other knowledgeable breeders or breed clubs.
  • Good breeders meet their dogs’ psychological and physical needs by providing toys, socialization, and exercise.
  • A reputable breeder ensures their puppies go to good homes.
  • Unless the puppy is a show dog, you must sign a contract to have your puppy spayed and neutered.
  • The written contract also states that if you cannot keep the dog, it must be returned to the breeder.
  • Reputable breeders are committed to the welfare of their dogs. They only have one or two breeds and usually breed sparingly.

Dog Breeder Comparison Chart


Backyard breeder

Puppy Mill

Commercial Breeder

Hobby Breeder

Reputable Breeder

Has a particular goal for breeding

To create puppies

To earn money

To keep up with demand

To improve 

the breed

To create an easily recognized type to leave a legacy

Is a member and works with a breed club

May pretend to be a member

Usually blocked from joining breed clubs

Has plenty of business contacts

An active member of their breed club

Is usually an extremely active long-time member of their breed club

Has a minimum of one mentor

Works on their own without any guidance

Doesn’t want to improve the breed so has no need for a mentor

Doesn’t focus on any one breed and has no interest in breeding quality or improving the breed

Welcomes knowledge

Is often a breed mentor who runs seminars and writes books and articles

Understands how to breed to meet the standard

Often has no knowledge of the breed at all

Uses any stock that’s available

Focuses on the dogs and their overall look

Aims for perfection

Helps with the definition and development of a breed

Involved with trials, shows, and rescues

Only rescues dogs to build breeding stock. Doesn’t go to trials or shows

Usually sells to brokers & pet shops. Does not need to promote their kennel

Does not need to promote their kennel as commercial breeders often do not sell directly to the public

Competes in trials and shows to confirm breeding worth

Writes breed articles, conducts seminars, and is happy to mentor serious hobbyist breeders. Sometimes acts as a judge

Knowledge of the breed’s history

May supply insufficient or fake information

No real knowledge. Often supplies information taken from the internet

No interest in the history of dog breeds

Studies all the time

Influences the breed for numerous decades

Sells pets complete with a neuter & spay contract. Maintains contact with buyers

Happy to supply so-called “breeding” documents at a higher cost

Often creates documents through unrecognized “registries”

All pups are sold with full breeding rights

Registers all puppies and methodically keeps in contact with buyers

Registers pet quality puppies on  limited register. Show and breed dogs are always recorded on the main register. Regularly keeps in contact with buyers.

Keeps up with health issues affecting the breed and offers detailed guarantees

Ignores most health problems. Avoids trials and shows 

Monitoring health is not needed as they mostly sell to pet shops and brokers

Meets the State’s minimum legal standards

Exceeds the minimum standards

Takes responsibility for each puppy born. Runs a strong support system

Genetic testing

It’s rarely done and, only when it’s necessary to impress consumers

It’s rarely done and only when required by a buyer. May supply papers to prove the dog’s worth

Rarely done  may give  paperwork to “keep the peace”

Prioritizes intensive testing

Sponsors seminars and clinics

Breeding records

Focuses mainly on the phenotype and isn’t unfamiliar with the genotype

Supplies pet shops & brokers. Records are not available

Auctioned off in lots. Records aren’t available

Regularly monitors all puppies bred

Bases their breeding program on research and data

Maintains a sterile, clean environment

Conditions vary, depending on income

Attempts to keep minimum standards

Cleanest commercial environment. Regular State inspections

Raised at home and well-loved and cared for

Often messy but is healthy and always stimulated mentally

Length of breed involvement

Unreal expectations; loses confidence quickly

Will keep going providing money is being made

Depends on just how popular a breed is at the time

In it for life and fully committed for the long term

Long-term involvement and commitment to the chosen breed

How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder
How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder

Where to Find a Good Dog Breeder

Most reputable breeders are usually involved in dog sports, so you should attend your closest show and talk to them about their dogs. Another avenue for finding good ones would be contacting the American Kennel Club or local breed clubs with members actively breeding dogs and asking if they recommend breeders. These people can give more information on who they recommend.

Once you locate a potential dog breeder, please get to know them. You’ll need this person’s help for your pup to be happy and healthy with no health problems, so don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Dog breeders want lifelong homes filled with love like any good friend would give their best buddy. This means they will have queries about what kind of home you can provide for the new addition.

It can feel intimidating at first, but by getting acquainted beforehand, both parties walk away feeling clear about the situation and what to expect from each other.

Reputable Breeder Checklist
Reputable Breeder Checklist

Reputable Dog Breeder Checklist Conclusion

Choosing a reputable purebred dog breeder is important for any new pet owner. There are many things to consider, but some of the most important ones include what type of breed you want and where they will live.

When looking for a purebred dog, remember that one in four dogs at shelters across America has some form of pedigree. However, the registration papers may not be available – but if it’s just going to be your pet and not show or breed them, consider adopting shelter dogs from either breed-specific rescue groups online or a local shelter.

Adopting a dog is a fantastic way to show your love for them, but they must be the right fit before you do that. Unfortunately, many dogs lose their home through no fault of their own.

If this post has helped you figure out which qualities, in particular, make up your perfect pup’s family, please let us know! We would love to keep helping people find their best friend on four paws by suggesting more articles like these every week.

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  • Denise Leo

    My name is Denise Leo, and I hail from Australia. My journey with dogs, especially with the delightful Pomeranian breed, has been a lifelong passion extending over 50 years. I have had the honor of breeding and exhibiting close to 100 Pomeranian Champions, dedicating many years to the intricate art of dog training across various disciplines. Beyond the show ring, my experience stretches to the pastoral fields as both a Dairy Farmer and Beef Cattle Breeder, where working with dogs of all breeds has been an integral part of my daily life. This diverse exposure has deepened my understanding and appreciation for these incredible animals. I firmly believe that dogs are the most extraordinary beings in our universe, capable of offering us unconditional love that surpasses even their own self-interest. The countless wonderful dogs that have shared my life over the years have not only brought immense joy and companionship but have also profoundly enriched my existence in ways I could never have imagined. About us page