How to tell if you have a legitimate and responsible breeder
Updated: Jan 10
There have always been puppy scammers, but it’s even worse now since covid. It’s important to be careful, for your financial sake as well as for the sake of puppies everywhere—if you support irresponsible breeding, then you are part of the problem. “Saving” a poor puppy mill puppy does not help the problem, it just supports bad breeding. They are counting on that, so stay strong!! A few months of people refusing to buy puppy mill puppies and the problem will start to disappear!
The new normal with puppies One reality of the new covid normal: Puppies are in HUGE demand. It’s without a doubt a seller’s market. EXPECT to wait for a puppy. It’s entirely possible that breeders may have immediate availability, but that’s the exception not the norm. If you are picky about size, color, sex, you will wait longer. Some breeders may not even want to add you to their list.
What to look for
Look for a website and social media presence that has existed for more than a few days, weeks, or even a few months.
On Facebook (on the desktop version) on the right side (you’ll have to scroll down) there’s a category called “Page Transparency.” The date the page was created is on there so you can see if you are looking at an established page or one that was recently created.
Scammers often have beautiful websites, but they are typically made from photos and text stolen from legitimate breeders. Checking to see if it’s an established site is one way to help protect yourself. To find out the age of a website, plug the name in here: https://www.iplocation.net/domain-age
Check out reviews. An established breeder should have double-digit reviews, usually on Google and/or Facebook. Again, check dates because a scammer can falsify reviews, but they are often ALL very recent if that’s the case.
See things "live"
With covid restrictions, many breeders aren’t allowing visitors.
This is fine, but to protect yourself insist on facetimes.
Ask to see the puppies and where the puppies are being raised.
A responsible breeder will provide regular updates as well, showing where and how the puppies are being raised.
I’ve seen people claim their breeding dogs had health clearances just because the dog had a checkup last year and was current on shots. That is NOT what health clearances mean for a breeding dog. Breeding dogs should be checked for testable conditions that are common in the breed. For most breeds, that’s way more than a regular vet visit or even DNA testing alone. Required testing varies by breed, but look for recommendations on breed organization pages. You can look up recommended testing for most breeds here.
Like websites and photos, scammers an steal health clearance certificates, so it’s always good to look for badges from breed associations or Good Dog that certify the breeder. Also look for evidence of breeder education in the form of certificates of completion or website badges.
Raising puppy the right way
The very best breeders use enhanced enrichment and training programs to raise their puppies. Using these programs is great marketing, so don’t just look for a website that tells you they use a puppy rearing program and INSIST on videos showing how puppies are when they go home. Crate training (including sleeping through most nights without accidents), house manners, basic puppy obedience training, and more are not unreasonable expectations from a top breeder. Puppies should not be wild animals when they go home to you!
The bottom line
You will pay more money initially for these better bred and better raised dogs, but in the end you are likely to save even more on vet bills, and, worse, heartache. And you will know you have done the right thing.