How To Find A Reputable Dog Breeder (And Avoid A Puppy Mill) (2023)

Are you looking to meet your next furry friend and wondering how to find a reputable dog breeder? Finding a reputable breeder isn’t hard to do. The key is to know what you’re looking for. You also need to know what you will and won’t accept. There are a few guidelines to follow in order to make sure that you get a healthy dog for your loving home.

Article Summary

Make Sure Your Dog is Bred Responsibly

The first thing you need to do is make sure that your dog has been bred in a humane, sanitary, and fully responsible manner. This may be more complex than you think because, unfortunately, there are a lot of less than reputable breeders on the scene. However, there are some key guidelines you can follow to make sure of this.

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How To Find A Reputable Dog Breeder (And Avoid A Puppy Mill) (1)

Keep in mind that a relatively small amount of puppy owners have actually bought their dogs from fully certified professional breeders. All too many people are content to get a new puppy with no questions asked and no research put in. This is the main reason why so many puppy mills continue to get away with their despicable practices.

One of the first things you need to look for is certification from the American Kennel Club [1]. This will be proof that you are dealing with an ethical and safe breeder who understands the needs of these animals. If you ask about this certification but the vendor seems reluctant to supply proof, you should quickly move on to someone else.

Don’t Do Business with a Puppy Mill

One of the worst places you can do business with will be a so-called puppy mill. These places are known by this disparaging but appropriate name for a number of reasons. The average dog that is bred in this type of place suffers a great deal under terrible conditions. Many of them breed dogs with serious health problems that will affect how long the dogs live.

People who run these mills don’t care about the conditions they subject their animals to. Dogs who are chosen for breeding often won’t receive adequate levels of dog food, water, or medical care. They are basically treated in the same horrible manner as chickens who are bred for eggs and meat by irresponsible and unethical owners.

(Video) How to find out if a dog breeder is legitimate

For this reason, it’s very important to get to know the tell-tale signs of a mill so that you can avoid giving your business to one. A mill owner very likely won’t be able to give you any kind of medical or breeding history about the dog. They won’t be able to tell you about their personality or even what they are really like.

If the owner of the establishment doesn’t have any kind of certifications or references they can show you, stay clear. This is one of the most transparent signs that they are not an ethical breeder. If the dogs in their care look anxious, sad, or sick, this is another tell-tale sign that all is far from well.

Signs of a Puppy Mill

There are many signs that you can take notice of to let you know that you are dealing with a puppy mill. The cages that the puppies are being kept in may be stacked on top of one another. They may well be too small to fit them in a comfortable fashion. And they may be made of wire that can cause damage to a puppy’s paws, legs, and coat.

You may see signs of puppies being separated from their mother long before they are ready to cope without her. If they seem to be under six weeks old and are nowhere near their mother, this is a sure sign that they are being mistreated. The owner of a puppy mill may even refuse to show you just where they may be keeping their adult dogs.

The owner of this disreputable place may attempt to sell you on any number of purebred or “designer breed” dogs. They may even attempt to sell you a dog that isn’t a member of any recognized or acceptable breed. Some puppy mill will owners accept only cash or Paypal and won’t even provide you with a receipt after the sale has been made.

(Video) How to find a reputable dog breeder

A puppy mill owner doesn’t care if you are a responsible owner or not. They won’t ask any questions about your lifestyle or if you have any experience in owning a dog. All they care about is the money that they can make on the deal. They may even offer to ship the dog to you, which is something that no ethical breeder would ever do.

Locating an Ethical Puppy Breeder

Dealing with a reliable breeder is always the way to go. There are a number of ways that you can make to contact an ethical and officially sanctioned puppy breeder. You can go to your local vet to ask for a reference. You can also ask family members or friends who are happy with the animals they have obtained from a good breeder.

You can also attend the meetings and shows of local breed clubs. These are clubs that are fully sponsored by official organizations that regulate the ethical breeding of dogs. You can attend a local show and talk to the people that are taking part in the event. This will be a good way to get info about where to find ethical dog breeders.

Signs of a Good Breeder

There are many signs of a responsible breeder that you should know about. These are the signs that you are dealing with someone who has the knowledge, skills, and amount of experience that are necessary for this task. First, they will gladly show you their qualifications. They will also share plenty of reliable references at your request.

If what you are after is a purebred dog, a reputable breeder will do all in their power to supply you with one, and they may even furnish the results from the best dog DNA test. However, they won’t just foist a dog on you at random and then try to relentlessly sell it. A reputable breeder will show you the dog and allow you to spend some time with it so that both of you are comfortable with each other.

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They will also take the time to show you the environment that the puppy has been bred and raised in. This environment should be outfitted with the best dog crates, comfortable dog beds, adequate food and water, and it should evoke a sense of general cleanliness. They will answer all of the questions, comments, and concerns that you may have concerning this environment. The emphasis will be on sharing proof that the place is a warm, safe, and comfy one where the parents and puppies are well cared for.

How To Find A Reputable Dog Breeder (And Avoid A Puppy Mill) (2)

A responsible breeder won’t hesitate to show you the parents of the puppy. They will also give you all of the info about the breeding history of both the parents and their offspring. They will be happy to share all of the relevant medical info. This will let you know if there are any conditions or issues that you should look out for, which can ultimately impact the price of your dog insurance policy.

You can rely on a professional and fully certified breeder to do all of the necessary health tests. This will be the best way to make sure that the puppies they provide you with are in good shape. You should never be afraid to see written proof that this testing has taken place. It’s one of your best guarantees against fraud.

Always Deal with a Reputable Breeder

For all of the reasons listed above and more, it is always best to deal with an ethical and reputable breeder. You don’t want to be on the hook for huge vet bills when your puppy falls ill. You also don’t want to experience the pain of losing a puppy to a chronic disease or health condition you didn’t know they suffered from.

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It will be up to you to make sure that the breeder you are dealing with is someone that you can trust. Always check with the American Kennel Club to make sure that this breeder is known to and professionally certified by this organization.

The more you do make sure that you are dealing with a reliable breeder, the more time you can look forward to sharing with your new puppy. It’s a good idea to take these steps to ensure a long and happy life together.

FAQs

How do you tell if a breeder is a puppy farm? ›

Bad Breeder & Puppy Farms
  1. Not letting you see the parents. ...
  2. Regularly advertising litters online. ...
  3. Poor living conditions. ...
  4. Puppies and parents in bad health. ...
  5. Puppies leaving the mother too early before 8 weeks. ...
  6. Selling puppies in large numbers. ...
  7. Offering lots of different breeds. ...
  8. Puppies have not been health checked.

How do you make sure you're not buying from a puppy farm? ›

You should be able to see the puppy's current housing environment so ask to see where the puppies are being kept, where they sleep, and what they are being fed. If in any doubt, walk away. Don't just take a puppy because it is available now. The most responsible breeders usually have a waiting list.

Where are most puppy mills located? ›

Which States Have the Most Puppy Mills? Today, Missouri is considered the leading puppy mill state in the country. Over time, puppy mills have spread geographically. The highest concentration is in the Midwest, but there are also high concentrations in other areas, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and upstate New York.

What are red flags when buying a puppy? ›

They won't show you where they keep their dogs

Consider it a red flag if the answer to any of the following questions isn't yes: Are the premises clean? Do the premises smell clean? Do the other animals on the premises appear happy and well-fed?

What's the difference between a puppy mill and a breeder? ›

Puppy Mills Versus Responsible Dog Breeders

Puppy mills are commercial dog breeders that prioritize profits over the health and well-being of their animals, often keeping them in unsanitary conditions and overlooking poor medical history of parent dogs.

Are all Amish dog breeders puppy mills? ›

Almost every Amish community has puppy mills,” said a post from Stop Online Puppy Mills dated Oct. 4. “Some Amish communities focus on dog breeding while others have puppy mills/farms scattered within them. Sadly, dogs are considered livestock, a cash crop and just another source of lucrative income for the Amish.”

How do I know if a dog breeder is reputable? ›

Most reliable breeders earn their reputation by providing healthy pups to good homes resulting in “word of mouth” references. Meet breeders at local dog shows or look online for local breed clubs and review the AKC Breeder Referral page on their website www.akc.org.

What if I bought a puppy mill dog? ›

A dog from a puppy mill can certainly be healthy, but it's far less likely to be healthy than a dog from a good breeder or a reputable animal shelter. Since puppy mills don't require veterinary care, health screening, grooming, or vaccinations, disease outbreaks and genetic diseases are common.

What are the worst states for puppy mills? ›

ACROSS AMERICA — Missouri and Iowa are the worst states in the country for puppy mills, breeding facilities that churn out puppies often without regard for the dogs' health, the Humane Society of the United States said with the release of its Horrible Hundred 2022 report.

Which state is considered the #1 puppy mill state in the US? ›

For the 10th straight year, the Humane Society of the United States has designated Missouri the national epicenter of a puppy-mill industry that profits from inhumanity.

What should you not say to a dog breeder? ›

Don't use commodified terms – like “stock” or “product”. Don't expect to turn up, pay money, and get a puppy. That is not how the process works. We don't need to get the puppy 'off our hands', so don't bargain or haggle.

How do you trust a dog breeder? ›

Check that the breeder is affiliated with the local and national breed clubs and a national kennel club (such as the AKC). Most importantly, make sure you visit the breeding facility and meet the puppies' parents (mother at least).

Why you shouldn't buy from a breeder? ›

Because puppy mills and backyard breeders choose profit over animal welfare, their animals typically do not receive proper veterinary care. Animals may seem healthy at first but later show issues like congenital eye and hip defects, parasites or even the deadly Parvovirus.

Is it normal for breeders to ship puppies? ›

Professional dog breeders do not ship dogs and many will not allow young puppies to fly. Responsible breeders want you to drive the puppy home.

Are Lancaster puppies a puppy mill? ›

Lancaster Puppies is not a puppy mill, and we do everything in our power to prevent unethical and unsafe breeders from advertising on our site.

Do Amish shave legs? ›

According to the Schwartzentruber Amish Ordinance Letter, Amish women are not permitted to shave their legs or underarms. Amish ordinances also forbid women from cutting their hair.

Do Amish inbreed dogs? ›

Dog farming is a large part of the economy for many Amish communities. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Holmes County, Ohio, and Shipshewana, Indiana are home to thousands of breeding dogs that will spend their lives in puppy mills.

Where can I find an honest dog breeder? ›

You can find responsible dog breeders by asking for referrals from your veterinarian or trusted friends, by contacting local breed clubs or visiting professional dog shows.

Does Puppyspot use puppy mills? ›

Every Breeder Screened and Vetted

No puppy mills. No scammers. No headaches. Our independent Scientific Advisory Board collaborates with the USDA to ensure we exceed all national standards.

What questions should you ask a dog breeder? ›

Try AKC Marketplace and have this list of questions handy to get to know your breeder, your breed, and your potential puppy better.
  • Ask to meet the parents. ...
  • Have health tests been performed on the parents? ...
  • How long have you been breeding? ...
  • How do you socialize your puppies? ...
  • Are the puppies up-to-date on vaccinations?

Is All Star family pets a puppy mill? ›

We are an agency for our local, reputable dog breeders, and our goal is to help you find your new furry family member! We try to keep puppy finding simple and to get buyers and sellers together smoothly. We provide information about breeds and promote the well-being of dogs to the best of our ability.

How do you tell if a dog has been abused before? ›

Subtle (and Not so Subtle) Signs of Animal Abuse
  1. Tucked tail, flinches at human contact.
  2. Unexplained fractures or limping.
  3. Unprovoked aggression, whining, or whimpering.
  4. Overly submissive (rolling onto back, tail tucked, urinating)
  5. Suddenly avoiding any physical contact.
  6. Attempts to bite or scratch when petted.
6 Sept 2018

Why do puppy mills still exist? ›

Puppy mills exist for one reason and one reason only—greed. If you buy a puppy from a pet store, an Internet site, or a private home advertising a variety of breeds, you are most likely buying from a puppy mill. The best way to avoid funding a puppy mill is to adopt from an animal shelter or rescue.

What is the least adopted dog? ›

Most experienced shelter workers will tell you that black dogs are often adopted less than any other coat color. Be it black Labrador Retrievers, Shepherds, Rottweilers, etc., they are often passed over by potential adopters. This discrepancy in adoptions is referred to as “Black Dog Syndrome.”

Should dog sleep in bed with you? ›

A dog should not sleep in your bed until it is crate trained and potty trained,” says Derick Lengemann, VMD at Lakewood Veterinary Hospital, Mooresville, North Carolina. “Consistency is key to potting training. A puppy won't go to the bathroom in its crate because it can't get away from it and they like to be clean.

What age are most dogs given up? ›

Characteristics of pets being relinquished In addition to the reasons for relinquishment, the study collected data on the pets being relinquished. According to the study: The majority of the surrendered dogs (47.7 percent) and cats (40.3 percent) were between 5 months and 3 years of age.

How reliable is Lancasterpuppies com? ›

Lancaster Puppies has a consumer rating of 3.32 stars from 111 reviews indicating that most customers are generally satisfied with their purchases. Consumers satisfied with Lancaster Puppies most frequently mention dog breeders, great experience and health records. Lancaster Puppies ranks 4th among Classifieds sites.

Is Pennsylvania known for puppy mills? ›

Any state that has an Amish community most likely has Amish puppy mills. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is home to the largest number of Amish and Mennonite puppy mills, followed by Holmes County, Ohio, Shipshewana, Indiana, and Davies County, Indiana, upstate New York, South Caroline and more.

Are there puppy mills in Florida? ›

Florida has one of the country's highest number of puppy-selling pet stores, which often source puppies from out-of-state, cruel, commercial breeding facilities like Gingerich's (also known as puppy mills), where dogs are bred at every opportunity in order to produce as many puppies as possible with minimal care ...

What state has the most homeless dogs? ›

The number of animals dropped off by their owners or found as strays across the U.S. also differs from state to state. The American West has higher rates of shelter animals relative to population. New Mexico registered the highest rate in 2019, with more than 3,200 animals surrendered per 100,000 inhabitants.

What state is the most dog friendly? ›

Ranking at number three overall, North Carolina has the highest percentage of pet-friendly apartments in the US (56.8%), followed by Georgia (53.5%).
...
The 10 most pet-friendly states in America in 2022.
RankStateScore
1Indiana80.23
2Tennessee75.99
3North Carolina75
4Nevada71.71
6 more rows
15 Mar 2022

What state euthanized the most animals? ›

And, according to the cat and dog euthanasia rates by state, almost all are in the South. Texas tops the list with around 125,000 animals killed in shelters. California is second with 110,000, followed by Florida with 66,000, and North Carolina with 62,000 euthanized animals.

What is considered a puppy mill? ›

Puppy mills are inhumane high-volume dog breeding facilities that churn out puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of the pups and their mothers. Dogs from puppy mills are often sick and unsocialized. Puppy mills commonly sell through internet sales, online classified ads, flea markets and pet stores.

How do puppy mill dogs act? ›

With respect to behavior, puppy mill dogs displayed significantly higher rates of fear (both social and nonsocial), house-soiling, and compulsive staring; and significantly lower rates of aggression (towards strangers and other dogs), trainability, chasing small animals, excitability, and energy (Figure 1).

Is All Star Family pets a puppy mill? ›

We are an agency for our local, reputable dog breeders, and our goal is to help you find your new furry family member! We try to keep puppy finding simple and to get buyers and sellers together smoothly. We provide information about breeds and promote the well-being of dogs to the best of our ability.

What makes a backyard breeder? ›

A Backyard Breeder is an amateur animal breeder. While some may have good intentions, in most cases the conditions are considered substandard, with little to no emphasis on ethical or selective breeding, or provide proper care for the well-being of the animals they are breeding.

Are Amish puppy mills? ›

Dog farming is a large part of the economy for many Amish communities. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Holmes County, Ohio, and Shipshewana, Indiana are home to thousands of breeding dogs that will spend their lives in puppy mills.

Why you shouldn't buy from a breeder? ›

Because puppy mills and backyard breeders choose profit over animal welfare, their animals typically do not receive proper veterinary care. Animals may seem healthy at first but later show issues like congenital eye and hip defects, parasites or even the deadly Parvovirus.

How do you spot a puppy mill online? ›

Here are some red flags that indicate a puppy mill in action: The seller has many different types of purebred dogs, or “designer” hybrid breeds. Puppies are being sold at less than six weeks old. The seller/breeder is located “in another state” and will ship a puppy without an in-person meeting first.

Which state is considered the #1 puppy mill state in the US? ›

For the 10th straight year, the Humane Society of the United States has designated Missouri the national epicenter of a puppy-mill industry that profits from inhumanity.

How do you tell if a dog has been abused before? ›

Subtle (and Not so Subtle) Signs of Animal Abuse
  1. Tucked tail, flinches at human contact.
  2. Unexplained fractures or limping.
  3. Unprovoked aggression, whining, or whimpering.
  4. Overly submissive (rolling onto back, tail tucked, urinating)
  5. Suddenly avoiding any physical contact.
  6. Attempts to bite or scratch when petted.
6 Sept 2018

How long do puppy mill dogs live? ›

Puppy mill breeder dogs are adult dogs of all breeds who have lived their entire lives (often up to seven years or more) being repeatedly bred by commercial breeders whose sole motivation is to turn an easy dollar.

Are Lancaster puppies a puppy mill? ›

Lancaster Puppies is not a puppy mill, and we do everything in our power to prevent unethical and unsafe breeders from advertising on our site.

Is furry babies a puppy mill? ›

In early August, three Furry Babies puppy stores received notices of revocation of their dog dealer licenses in Illinois after the Illinois Department of Agriculture determined they were still selling puppy mill puppies despite the state's new Humane Pet Store Law prohibiting that practice.

Is Infinity pups a puppy mill? ›

Q: Is Infinity Pups a puppy mill? No, we are an advertising source for reputable breeders. If we find a breeder to be in violation of state breeding laws, we will discontinue advertising for that breeder. We ask the public to make us aware of any situations they come across so we can take the proper steps necessary.

What do breeders do with returned dogs? ›

Not every breeder's contract is the same, but the most common way for breeders to structure the return or rehoming of a puppy is to refund the buyer based on what the breeder is able to resell the dog for minus any costs incurred such as transportation or boarding.

What is the difference between a breeder and a backyard breeder? ›

Unlike puppy mills and other animal mill operations, backyard breeders breed on a small scale, usually at home with their own pets (hence the "backyard" description), and may be motivated by things such as monetary profit, curiosity, to gain new pets and/or working animals, or to show children "the miracle of birth".

What the difference between a backyard breeders and reputable breeders? ›

Reputable breeders usually have a waiting list of people waiting for puppies. As a matter of fact, they won't breed their dogs until they have enough good homes ready and waiting for an entire litter. Backyard breeders and pet stores are constantly breeding and have dogs available.

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