Finding a Reputable Breeder

With so many rescued pets needing a home, we suggest you consider adopting a puppy or cat (or even better: an adult!) from a shelter or rescue society before buying one. But if you have very specific requirements that are met by certain breeds, or if your heart is set on a purebred animal, then it is important that you find a good breeder who is in it for the love of the animals - not for the money.

The following is a great list of questions and things to look for when searching for a good breeder. It is originally from an article in, but we have adapted it to add our own advice and make it dog and cat friendly.

How to start

There are many good places to get information: ask your veterinarian, visit pet shows, or contact local breed clubs to get recommendations on good local breeders. The Canadian Kennel Club provides lists of dog breeders in the area, but it is not a guarantee that the breeder is good. TIP: if adding a kitten or puppy to your family, bring them in to your Veterinarian for an examination before you make your final decision.

Questions to ask

The first thing you’ll notice when contacting a good breeder is the number of questions that they have for you! Dedicated breeders want to know exactly what kind of home that their puppies or kittens are going to. They may ask who’s going to be home during the day, what your pet-owning history is, and why you’re interested in the breed. Don’t be defensive; they are just doing their job, which is taking care of the animals they brings into the world. Answer honestly so that you can get a pet that will be a great match for your family and your lifestyle.

Where do the puppies/kittens live? The answer should be “in the house with the family.” A pet who is born into family life has a better shot at growing up relaxed and friendly. Dogs or cats that are isolated from humans in a backyard, garage, or basement are more likely to wind up shy or aggressive.

How often are the puppies or kittens handled? Puppies and kittens should be handled by lots of different people beginning very early in life so they’ll grow up to be comfortable and safe around humans. Five minutes of daily pats on the head by the breeder won’t cut it.

Can I meet the parents? Meeting the father may not be possible, but you should certainly meet the mother. The parents of a pet often give you better insight into her future personality than does the breed. A friendly, well-behaved Mamma or Papa is a good sign, both that you’ve found a good litter and a good breeder.

How many litters do you raise a year? A breeder with just one or two litters a year will have the time to give them the care and handling they need, and to find them good homes.

Can I have copies of the health clearances? Many breeds are prone to certain genetic conditions. The breeder should offer health clearances–documentation from an independent agency, that the parent and grandparent dogs were tested for hereditary problems. You’ll need to do some research on your breed to find out what the parents should be tested for.

Can I talk to someone who’s bought a puppy or kitten from you? Good breeders should be happy to give you references; even better, they’ll refer you to other breeders as well as customers.

Signs of a reputable breeder

Keep your eyes open when you’re visiting breeders. Here’s a checklist of what to look for in a good breeder:

The pets live inside. Puppies and kittens who are going to be family dogs should be raised inside with the family, not in a backyard, basement, or garage. RED FLAG: a breeder makes excuses as to why you can’t visit their home or pushes you to meet somewhere other then their home.

The kittens and puppies are relaxed around people. That’s a good sign that they’ve been properly cared for and socialized.

The place is clean. Don’t worry about the dirty dishes in the sink–just make sure the living area is safe, sanitary, and that they’re supplied with fresh water, beds, and toys. Is there a toilet area in the puppy or kittens living quarters, or is it all one big toilet? If it’s the former, the kittens and puppies have a head start on housetraining. RED FLAG: don’t just trust your eyes, your sense of smell should not be ignored.

The breeder will offer guidance for the care and training of your pet, and is available for assistance after you take your puppy or kitten home.

The breeder participates in shows or competitions. A good breeder is motivated by enthusiasm for the breed, not by making a little extra cash.

The breeder has a solid relationship with one or more local veterinarians and shows you individual records of veterinary visits for your pet. However, a good breeder will not require you to use a specific veterinarian. 

The breeder asks you to sign a spay/neuter contract. If you’re buying a dog or cat that is not going to be bred, the breeder should ask you to sign a contract promising to spay or neuter your pet, to avoid contributing to pet overpopulation.

The breeder doesn’t specialize in sizes or colors that are unusual for the breed. Trying to breed for rare colors or extreme sizes is a sign that the breeder is more interested in making money out of a sales gimmick than in producing great pets.

The breeder is up-front about the breed’s drawbacks, whether that means a tendency to develop certain health problems or a temperament that’s not for every owner. A good breeder wants you to love and care for your pet for his entire lifetime, and that’s more likely if you’re well prepared.

The breeder wants to meet the whole family and welcomes you to make several visits. To make the best match, the breeder will want to meet everyone who’ll be living with the kittens or puppy. RED FLAG: high-pressure salesmanship of any type – good breeders will want you to take the time to make the right decision.

The breeder won’t let you take the kitten or puppy home before she’s eight weeks old. Playing with her littermates teaches your pet a lot about getting along with others. A puppy who is taken away from her littermates too early is at a major disadvantage in her social skills.

Bottom line: Before buying a puppy or kitten, take the time to research and find a responsible breeder. Pets from good breeders are more likely to grow up to be healthy and loving members of your family.

Note: to view the original copy of this article, visit the good people at

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