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  • Writer's pictureCaryl Wolff

Choosing a Responsible Reputable Ethical Puppy Breeder

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

 breeder holding several puppies
How to choose the right puppy.

Choosing a Responsible Reputable

Ethical Puppy Breeder

When you are choosing a responsible, reputable, or ethical puppy breeder, you may be at a loss to ask the right questions. I get so many questions on how to choose a responsible, reputable, or ethical puppy breeder that I decided to make a list questions to ask and topics to explore. This is such a huge topic (I have 250 pages of notes!) that it is only a list at this point. I will write more at a later date.

The first thing to do is find the breed organization or kennel clubs in the local area who will supply you a list of breeders to see whether your breeder is on that list. Not all puppies that come with “papers” come from responsible ethical puppy breeders. Puppy mill puppies will give you papers. Each breeder will have his or her methods of matching you with the right puppy.

This is a list of questions for you to ask(which represents my research thus far) in no particular order of criteria, to help you in choosing a responsible, reputable, or ethical puppy breeder.

Questions about the Breeder

  • How many puppies and dogs do you currently have?

  • How many breeds do you currently breed?

  • How many puppies are available now?

  • How long have you been breeding?

  • Why do you breed?

  • How did you get into breeding?

  • Can I come to see your facility?

  • Are you state licensed or USDA approved?

  • How many of your puppies have been returned? If so, why?

  • Has any puppy buyer complained about high veterinary bills or death?

  • How do you keep yourself educated and informed as a breeder?

  • What rescues are you involved in?

  • Will you sell me two puppies?

  • What are the breed standards for your breed?

  • How do you match up puppies with buyers?

  • Do you help in rescuing your breed from shelters or rescue groups?

  • Do you belong to local, regional, or national breed clubs?

  • Do you compete in dog shows?

  • How many different breeds do you have and/or breed?

  • Do you sell to pet stores or puppy brokers?

  • Do you breed for temperament, for show, or for both?

  • Will you tell me whether my puppy is pet quality or show quality and why?

  • How long do you keep the puppies before selling them? Questions about Documentation

  • Will you provide me with genealogy documentation about my puppy’s parents, grandparents, etc.?

  • Will you provide me with medical records about my puppy and his parents?

  • Will you provide me with pedigree and registration papers made out in my name immediately upon the purchase of your puppy?

  • Do you ask for proof if I live in an apartment or condominium that I am allowed to have a dog?

Questions about Guarantees and Business

  • Do you have a contract?

  • Is there a spay or neuter clause?

  • What are your specific health guarantees?

  • Do you have any temperament guarantees?

  • Will you send me a copy of your guarantee and contract before we meet so I can read it?

  • Do you require me to take the puppy to a veterinarian of my choice within “X” days after receipt?

  • If my puppy is sick when I go to the vet within the specified “X” period, do you pay the vet bills?

  • What happens if my puppy dies during or immediately after shipment?

  • What equipment and/or supplies do you provide with the puppy?

  • Do you microchip?

  • Can you give me phone numbers or email addresses of previous puppy buyers so I can talk with them directly?

  • Are you available if I have any questions with behavior or medical issues?

  • Will you take the puppy or dog back at any time in the future? If so, how is that handled?

Questions about the Parents

  • Will you let me meet the parents?

  • Have the parents or grandparents had any illnesses or congenital disorders?

  • What is the temperament of the parents?

  • How often have you bred the mother?

  • How old was the mother when she was first bred?

  • What is the age of the father when he was first bred?

  • Do you breed the mother every time she goes into heat?

  • Has the mother had a caesarean section? If so, how many?

  • Do you breed the son back to the mother?

  • Why did you choose this particular dam and sire to breed?

Questions about the Puppies

  • Where specifically is the nest – in the kitchen, in the garage, in the basement?

  • Can I visit you to see the nest and environment?

  • If the nest isn’t in the house, are the dogs or puppies ever allowed in the house where people spend their time?

  • How many puppies are in the litter I am interested in?

  • What is the earliest age you allow your puppies to go home?

  • Has the puppy been separated from its mother? If so, at what age?

  • In what way and how much have you handled the puppies?

  • How much time do people spend with the puppies daily?

  • Can I spend time with the litter and parents?

  • Do you provide toys and enrichment opportunities for your puppies? If so, what are they?

Questions about the Health of the Puppies

  • How many times my puppy been to the vet, for what reasons, and what is his overall medical condition?

  • Can you send me or can I see the puppy’s vet records before purchase?

  • How many of your puppies have died within a month of being in their new home?

  • What is the average life span of the dogs you have bred?

  • What kind of health problems have you encountered with your puppies?

  • What shots has my puppy had?

  • Has my puppy been dewormed?

  • Has my puppy been examined for parasites?

  • Have you screed for hereditary or genetic defects? If so, will you provide me documentation of the results?

  • Do you give a health guarantee? Questions about Care and Training

  • Have you done any training, especially potty training?

  • Have you taken the puppies outside the home other than to go to the vet?

  • What kind of socialization and environmental enrichment have the puppies had?

  • How should I care for my puppy when I get him home?

  • Do you have any written instructions that I can take with me?

  • What supplies, toys, or food do you provide?

Thanks for visiting Choosing a Responsible Reputable Ethical Puppy Breeder. I make a small commission on any products or books I recommend.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only. It does not replace a consultation with a dog trainer, dog behavior consultant, or veterinarian and may not be used to diagnose or treat any conditions in your dog.

If you need help with puppy or dog training, we do both private in-person and virtual lessons via Zoom. Please contact us by calling or texting (310) 804-2392 or sending an email to . We look forward to working with you.


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