How to Find a Good Dog Breeder

Anybody can produce puppies, and does. Here’s how to find a good, caring breeder instead.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
8-minute read
Episode #65

What Should Good Dog Breeders Do?

A good dog breeder will do several important things. First, she will perform available genetic and other health tests before breeding a dog. She won’t breed dogs known to carry heritable disorders, nor will she breed shy or aggressive dogs. And she gets a gold star if she supports outcrossing troubled breeds to increase genetic diversity and reduce or eliminate heritable health problems. (5)

Good Breeders Specialize in a Single Breed

A good breeder knows his breed’s history and health like the back of his hand. It’s not easy for one person to develop a deep expertise about many breeds, so a good breeder specializes in a single breed or maybe, maybe two. Run, run, run from the fellow who advertises six varieties of dog and all their mixes as well. (6)

Good Dog Breeders Treat Mother Dogs and Puppies Carefully

At every stage, ask yourself whether the breeder is behaving the way you would behave if you cared about the puppies you produced.

Pregnancy, whelping, and nursing all tax the mother dog’s body. A good breeder will limit the number of times he breeds a bitch--many will only breed a female two or three times over her whole life. The puppies will be raised in the breeder’s home and he’ll see to it that they are appropriately socialized. (Livestock guardians intended for work are an exception to this rule – they will grow up with their flock.) A good breeder provides pleasant experiences of household life, various people and animals, and all kinds of sounds, sights, and textures. Even tiny puppies are learning machines, so the best breeders start reward-based training of manners behaviors by the time the puppies are a few weeks old.

Good Dog Breeders Plan Their Breedings

The care and time involved in raising puppies, and the limits of what can be asked of a female dog’s body, mean you’ll probably have to wait a while for a puppy from a good breeder. A good dog breeder probably won’t plan a breeding until she has homes waiting for as many puppies as the litter is likely to include. And you will not get a puppy from her by sending her an email and plugging your credit card information into Paypal.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).