Puppy 101: How to Choose a Reputable Breeder: A First-Time Dog Owner’s Guide

Belgian Malinois puppies with their breeder.

Written by Andrea Gatley

Friday, July 07, 2023

Embarking on the journey of dog ownership is an exciting time. If you’ve decided to buy a puppy, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing a reputable breeder. This guide will help you understand what to look for in a breeder, the red flags that might indicate a puppy mill, and why “designer dogs” might not be the best choice. We’ll also touch on the wonderful alternative of adopting a rescue dog.

What to Look for in a Breeder

A reputable breeder is passionate about their breed and is committed to breeding healthy, well-socialized puppies. They should:

  • Be knowledgeable about the breed and willing to answer all your questions.
  • Show you where the puppies and their parents live, which should be clean and comfortable.
  • Provide medical history and genetic testing results for the puppies’ parents.
  • Encourage you to spend time with the puppy’s parents to get a sense of the puppy’s potential temperament.
  • Provide references from previous customers and their vet.
  • Be interested in you and your suitability as a dog owner.

Red Flags: Avoiding Puppy Mills

Puppy mills prioritize profit over the welfare of the dogs. They often sell puppies through pet stores or online, without giving you the opportunity to see the conditions in which the puppies are bred and raised. The puppies from puppy mills are often unhealthy and poorly socialized. Avoid buying puppies from pet stores or unseen over the internet.

The Truth About “Designer Dogs”

“Designer dogs”, or mixed breed dogs with catchy names, are often sold for high prices. While these dogs can make wonderful pets, it’s important to remember that they are essentially mixed-breed dogs, and their size, appearance, and temperament can be unpredictable. Reputable breeders typically focus on breeding purebred dogs to maintain breed standards.

Consider Rescue as an Alternative

Buying a puppy from a breeder isn’t the only way to find your perfect canine companion. Rescue organizations and shelters have many wonderful dogs, including puppies, who are looking for their forever homes. Adopting a rescue dog can be a rewarding experience and gives a dog in need a second chance at a happy life.

Choosing a reputable breeder or deciding to adopt is a big decision. Take your time, do your research, and remember that this is the first step in a journey that will bring you years of companionship and joy. Happy dog parenting!

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