How To Tell if You’re Buying the Right Dog from the Right Breeder

I’m not trying to brag, but there are so many cute puppies in my neighborhood! Many of them are popular breeds like French Bulldogs, with squashed faces and pudgy little rolls of delight, miniature Yorkies quivering with excitement, and labradoodles that are so soft it’s like petting a cloud. If you’re like me, every time you see one of these creatures you think to yourself: I want one of those. But “designer dogs” come at a cost.

So cute! So unhealthy.

Some of the trendiest dogs are very difficult to breed and come with serous health problems. Miniature versions of popular breeds like Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas are bred using the runts from previous litters and often require invasive Caesarian sections to produce viable offspring, killing the mother in the process. French Bulldogs suffer from breathing problems and require artificial insemination. Labradoodles, created by crossing the hypoallergenic poodle with the friendly Labrador Retriever, produce wildly different puppies that don’t always fulfill owner expectations, as do other unusual cross-breeds like puggles and goldendoodles. Many unscrupulous breeders kill the unwanted members of a litter!

If you want a dog, it’s almost always better to adopt a dog in need from your local animal shelter. Not everyone needs a “designer dog.” Sometimes, there’s a perfect pet just waiting for you to bring them home! But if you really want a specific breed, or you need a hypoallergenic dog, it’s important to buy from an ethical breeder that doesn’t hurt animals. Thankfully, there are a few easy tricks you can use to find a reputable breeder.

Happy puppy!

First, never try and buy a “teacup” dog. Responsible breeders can’t promise you a dog that’s dramatically smaller than average for a given breed.

Second, most ethical breeders specialize in one or two breeds and don’t offer a “catalogue” of dogs. That’s a puppy mill. Also, if there are multiple litters available at once then it’s likely you’re buying from a puppy mill. An ethical breeder is paying close attention to their loving dogs, and you might have to wait for the next litter.

Third, responsible dealers don’t sell dogs over the Internet. Even if you find them online, you’ll always need to visit the breeder in person! (Remember—if it seems cheap or shady, it’s probably cheap or shady.) You should always try and visit the breeder, meet the expecting mother, and confirm that your puppy will arrive in a happy and caring environment. This ensures that your dog will be socialized and healthy. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from past buyers. Happy dog owners are eager to share the story of how they got their perfect pup!

Follow these simple tips and you can find an ethical breeder—and a healthy puppy.