BREEDER BLUES – The Do’s and Don’t’s of Finding a Good Breeder

I’ve asked for a friend of mine to share her story with you today, as it’s a fairly common experience among first-time dog owners. Here’s her story:

“My husband and I had always dreamed of owning a dog, and had made plans to bring one into our family even before we were married. We had taken months to plan out our perfect puppy, and had looked into several breeders in the area.

Unfortunately for us, we really had no idea what we were looking for in a breeder. From the research I had done, there were only a few things we were told to look for, and it seemed like we had found a breeder who fit those standards.

Puppy day came and went, and we quickly settled in to owning a new dog. We thought we had done our homework, but it wasn’t a week after bringing our new dog home that we noticed some problems. Vomiting, diarrhea, and itchy, dry skin were a constant issue; our poor puppy was miserable. Our vet told us that sadly, most of these problems were probably genetic, and that we could only try and manage.

I had no idea that my new puppy had these genetic problems because my breeder had assured me that she had bred dogs for over 30 years. She had shown me photos of her “show” dogs, and had promised that her puppies were always healthy. She said that she had never had a puppy returned to her, so we trusted her expertise and doled out the money.

After I brought my puppy to Shanan, it was clear that my breeder was not only inexperienced, but she was more than likely breeding her dogs for profit only, not for the betterment of the breed. Our dog had allergies to food, to certain things in the environment, to soaps and shampoos. He also had some colors in his coat that suggested he was not show-quality, nor were his parents. We were definitely bummed that we had bought a dog that had issues, but it was even more upsetting that our breeder claimed to be what she was not.”


It’s sad, but I’ve heard countless stories of people being burned by a “reputable” breeder. It’s unfortunate that most breeders who claim to be ethical are breeding mostly for profit, and choose to continue breeding regardless of the quality of their dogs.

When selecting a breeder, you MUST do your homework. Look for the following qualities, and if you find a breeder who does not have proof of these standards, WALK AWAY, no matter how cute the puppies are. In the end, it’s not the breeder that has to deal with the issues of the puppy, it’s you as the owner!

1. LOOK FOR A PEDIGREE – A good breeder will have papers for all the dogs they have bred, and all the puppies they are selling. This pedigree line should show who the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of your puppy are.

2. LOOK FOR PAPERS AND CERTIFICATIONS – If the breeder does not have paperwork to show that their dogs have been tested for genetic issues, DON’T BUY! Every breeder should be able to show you proof of health, and should not have a problem presenting this information to you. Many times, a breeder will say their dogs are AKC registered, but will not have any pedigrees or certifications. Make sure that the dogs are quality dogs!

3. LOOK FOR A CONTRACT – Good breeders breed because they care about their dogs, and they want to better the breed. They should have a contract ready upon the sale of the puppy. This will include anything from first time vet visits, to the return of the dog should you be unable to keep him. If the breeder doesn’t make you sign a contract, it’s a good sign that they’re after the money, not a good home for the dog.

4. ASK QUESTIONS – There should be no secrets when purchasing a dog from someone. If you have reservations about anything in the dog’s history, or their pedigree, ask questions! And, should your breeder be hesitant to answer, or if they don’t know the answer to your question, they may not be the right breeder for you.


A good place to start researching an ethical breeder would be the AKC website ( The AKC keeps strict standards for each breed, and will be able to tell you exactly what to look for when choosing a puppy. They will also be able to tell you the genetic health issues that may arise.

Doing a little bit of homework beforehand will save you a lot of heartache and money after purchasing your dog! Always check the source, and have a good knowledge of your breeder before you buy!