How to Find a Responsible Dog Breeder

Finding a responsible breeder is one of the critical first steps to take before bringing home a puppy. Patience is key throughout the process, as a good dog breeder won’t just hand out the pups to anyone. They will want to make sure that the prospective owners are willing and capable of taking the best care of the puppy. A responsible breeder will have your puppy’s health in mind and will care more about the puppy’s wellbeing rather than the transaction. Luckily, there are a few things to look out for when determining whether a breeder is responsible.

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A responsible dog breeder will have referrals.

If you have no idea where to look, ask for a referral. This can be from a vet or perhaps from someone who already purchased a pup from that breeder. If they have an online presence, like a website or Instagram, odds are that people will be talking about them and willing to be a reference to the breeder’s care and work. Of course, a thorough internet search is a good way to look for breeders, but each responsible dog breeder will have reviews to back up the quality of their breeding. 

A responsible dog breeder will be transparent.

Once you’ve established a breeder you’re interested in, make sure to ask questions. A responsible breeder will be open and honest about every step of their process. They should be willing to give you a thorough health and behavioral history of both the pup’s parents. A good breeder will be able to tell you how many litters the mom has had and how often. They will be open about where the puppies are kept and willing to give you a tour of the premises. Finally, they won’t allow you to bring the puppy home until it is at least 8 to 12 weeks old. A responsible breeder will be patient because they want the pups to end up in a good home.

A responsible dog breeder will ask you questions.

An important indication of a good dog breeder is someone who isn’t willing to hand off the puppies to just anybody. A responsible breeder will ask the prospective pup parents questions to determine if they are suitable candidates to take care of the pup and provide it with everything that it needs. Different dog breeds have different requirements. Some need a lot of exercise, some need regular grooming, and some do better without other animals. A good dog breeder will ask about your living situation and your availability to take care of the dog. They will make sure you’re lifestyle allows for you to dedicate the time and energy necessary for taking care of the pup. These questions aren’t meant to be invasive. At the end of the day, all of this is a good sign that the breeder is responsible and cares about the future wellbeing of the puppies.

A responsible dog breeder will provide proper documentation.

There are very few circumstances in which you’d walk away from a breeder without some sort of paperwork. If you are not planning on using the pup as a show dog or for breeding purposes, odds are you won’t need as much paperwork. However, in most cases, you should expect documentation of pedigree, vaccination and health history, microchip details, and a sales contract.

A responsible dog breeder will help the puppy transition.

The puppy’s first transition to its new home can be difficult, but luckily most breeders will provide the new owner with some tools to make this easier. Often the breeder will provide you with a towel or blanket that has the mother’s scent on it. They may also provide a favorite toy or anything familiar to the puppy. Additionally, the breeder will provide you with at least a week’s worth of food. An abrupt change in dog food can be rough on the dog’s digestion system. A good dog breeder will give you the food details and instructions on transitioning the dog to different brands or types of food. Again, a responsible breeder will be open to questions and will be more than happy to offer advice on how to make the transition easier.

A responsible dog breeder will be willing to keep in touch throughout the dog’s life. 

A responsible breeder doesn’t cut off communication once the sale is complete. The sales contract should have a clause on returning the dog if you’re ever unable to take care of them. The breeder will provide their contact information so that they can be reached if any issues or questions arise. This is a great sign that the breeder cares about the dogs they breed well past the point of puppyhood.


AKC, “Tips for Finding and Working With a Responsible Breeder.”

Breeding Business, “What Documents Should I Expect From a Dog Breeder?”

Humane Society, “How to Find a Responsible Dog Breeder.” 

Humane Society Informational Pamphlet 

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