What to Look for When You Buy a Puppy
Updated: Jan 10
You need to perform your own due diligence when you find a breeder you are interested in. Like every other industry, there are scammers, liars, and truth-benders out there. Some basics include, but are not limited to the following.
1. Parental Health Clearances
Ask for proof of health testing. There is no reason a breeder can't share that information. There are people who steal health papers and present them as theirs, but a breeder can watermark their papers to share, or they can share links from many testing registrations.
👉Some organizations such as GoodDog or some breed clubs check health clearances (not all breed clubs do—be sure to check with a breed club if you are relying on them to help select a breeder), so if your breeder is with one of those then you can still request if you want, but you can buy with a lot more confidence without seeing the actual testing yourself. Not all breeders use Good Dog, so not being certified by Good Dog is not automatically a sign of a bad breeder.
Make sure your breeder is a real person. Check that they have a well-established website and Facebook business page.
👉Look for a breeder with Google and Facebook reviews.
👉Look for a breeder whose website and Facebook page have been around for a while
❗Facebook has deleted some breeder business pages this past year because of political pressure from animal rights extremists, so not all breeders have Facebook pages. If they don't, be sure to check for a strong website presence with Google reviews or some other proof of being a legitimate business.
3. Puppy Development
Responsible breeders raise their puppies using enhanced enrichment and early development protocols.
👉 Regardless of the enrichment program, INSIST on seeing video proof of what the breeder does. There are a lot of breeders who have bought the programs but either don't implement them or only use a few pieces, etc.
❗If you don't see video, there's no proof of how they are raising their puppies. You don't need to see videos of everything, but you should see breeders working with their puppies at various stages and puppies should appear well-adjusted, well-mannered, and well cared for.
Back in the day, we all believed that if you couldn't visit a breeder and meet the parents then that was a red flag.
Unfortunately, in today's world things are different. There are risks of theft, assault, injury, politically motivated targeting, and even death to breeders (yes, this has happened on more than one occasion).
In the case where your breeder doesn't allow visits or limits visits, be sure that you can see plenty of videos of where and how the puppies are being raised, and look for Google and Facebook reviews and a breeder who has been around for a while.
Price matters, but not necessarily how you think! 99% of the time, puppies from better breeders cost more. If you are getting a bargain, that's a huge red flag.
I know very few people who have the luxury of taking the time and money of PROPERLY raising a puppy and then basically giving away their valuable time and money through cheap puppies. High price doesn't guarantee quality, much more often than not, low price significantly increases the risk to you and your puppy.
👉 New Breeders. An exception is a new breeder just starting out. If that's the case, be sure this breeder has solid mentorship from an experienced breeder.
Starting out may mean they have less proof of being around for a while, but it is NO EXCUSE for not performing parental health testing or raising puppies properly. You should expect the same quality genetics and puppy rearing from ANY breeder.
Newer breeders may charge less, but be sure that the newer price doesn't come with lower quality. You also may get a lower price, but most new breeders don't have the same puppy-rearing experience as those who are established, so be prepared to not get the same quality in many cases.
❗Don't buy a puppy from a puppy broker. Puppy brokers often buy puppies from puppy mills, backyard breeders, and other unethical sources. Puppy brokers are the ones that usually have a bunch of different breeds on their sites and tons of puppies available.
❗NEVER buy a puppy from a pet store. More often than not those are outlets for puppy mills. Control your emotions and do NOT buy a puppy store or puppy mill puppy because you feel sorry for them. If you do that you may feel good that day but you are unequivocally responsible for supporting and perpetuating that puppy mill.
❗Lastly, a high price isn't a guarantee of a responsibly-bred puppy. Some puppy mills sell their puppies for very high prices and have gorgeous websites to draw you in.
⛔️ Sites like PuppyFind and others do ZERO checking of breeders and you risk getting a puppy from a mill, a backyard breeder, a puppy broker, etc.
6. You Are Ultimately Responsible
It is YOUR responsibility to check out any breeder.
It is also the BUYERS who drive the market, so if you care about the future of dogs, please support responsible breeding, NOT puppy mills, back yard breeding, or retail rescue!