Finding a Good Breeder


I am an advocate of adoption. There are many wonderful pets waiting for their forever homes, languishing in shelters. I keep my fingers crossed that ALL will find a loving home. I have rescued many cats over the years and fostered a number of dogs that were looking for their permanent homes.

But, I do feel there is a place for quality breeders of purebred pets. I love my Labrador Retrievers. I have been competing with and breeding Labs for over 15 years. I take the role of a breeder VERY seriously. From pre-breeding health clearances, to the selection of an appropriate breeding pair, to the intensive care of a pregnant, then whelping bitch, to the labor filled days of caring for puppies and then the selection of committed, responsible, puppy adopters. And, finally, being available for each puppy for a lifetime. That means that for ANY reason, an owner cannot keep one of the dogs I bred, I take them back. This has happened a couple of times due to divorce. I am determined no dog I bred will end up in rescue or a shelter.

I have also purchased dogs from what I felt were responsible breeders. In those cases, I visited the homes, knew the bloodlines and was comfortable with the care the dogs received. But, in one case, I did not ask the questions I should have. I purchased the puppy from a nationally known breeder and show judge. I assumed that all health clearances would have been completed and breeding would utilize those tests needed to assure the greatest chance at health. I ended up with a blind dog. She is a wonderful dog, a champion with field and obedience titles. But, at four years of age, she started going blind with a genetic disease that could have been prevented with proper health  testing ! I trusted the breeder and instead, I should have asked the questions.

So, how do you find a quality breeder? First, quality breeders do not sell dogs on an  Internet site or in a pet store. A good breeder will ask questions to insure that prospective owners are committed to giving lifelong care to the puppy. In return, a good breeder will offer information on the health clearances the parents have had and answer questions about the parents and puppies. You can get information on what questions to ask from your veterinarian as well as members of a breed club. For example, I am a founding member of the Keystone Labrador Retriever Club; our club web site has contact information along with information about recommended health clearances.

Purebred cats also may need genetic testing. Buying a cat from a quality breeder follows the same guidelines as dogs. In both cases, if at all possible, visit the place the animal comes from. Buying a puppy/kitten from poor conditions just means that more pets will be bred and have to survive those conditions. It may save one pet, but more will be bred to take its place.

More than anything else, be sure YOU are ready for the commitment to that pet for a lifetime. Under the best of circumstances, your purebred pet will be bred for health, temperament, and breed type.  And hopefully, will be a healthy, well adjusted pet throughout its life. But, sometimes, unforeseen problems occur. Not every disease can be prevented through genetic testing. Pets are born with individual personalities. It is up to us to care for our pets for better or worse and give them the care, training and living conditions needed for a happy life.

What if you have a great pet and want its offspring? When you love your pet and it is a wonderful dog/cat, you should concentrate on taking the best care of it possible and cherishing those moments together. Most pets are not breeding quality, meaning healthy, free of ear infections, allergies, orthopedic and metabolic conditions. And very few pet owners are willing to be responsible breeders, performing the health clearances, spending the time, money and effort to take care of puppies, screen for good homes and providing backup for owners. Breeding is a tremendous responsibility. There are plenty of people out there doing a less than ideal job at it. And the shelters are filled with dogs/cats that no one cared enough about.




  1. Breeders should be oitpaerng off of a breed standard. You can find these for each breed of dog recognized by the AKC. For me, all my pups are pets first, then show dogs. I could NEVER sell a black & tan Staffordshire Bull Terrier or liver colored dog as a show/breeding prospect. These colors are breed disqualifications in the American Kennel Club. Remember the AKC was formed with the intention of showing a dog’s confirmation to later be used for breeding purposes if of good quality.Judging puppies at such a young age is hard, even for the experienced eye. Truth be told, you can’t predict 100% what a dog is going to mature into.Some breeders restrict breeding, limit registrations for good reason-as not to allow every Joe Blow to walk in buy a dog and breed it out in 8 months. I respect this practice of limiting registration for that reason.Structure & tempermant are important when choosing a breeding dog. As puppies you can see who the confident ones are, the shy ones and the just normal puppies. Sometimes you can tell who is lean & narrow and who has more bone & substance. That all factors in.Also it is HOPED that the breeder is breeding from a standard, and upholds it to every degree possible. If you are interested in breeding, or showing, just say so-some people will cut you short cause you’re new, others may see it as an opportunity to mentor & educate.VERY VERY GOOD QUESTION.There is a book called The Puppy Puzzle by Pat Hastings, AKC Judge. It will help you understand more if you like.

    • A reputable bedreer usually does not breed those 10 females. Some will be too young to breed and are working on their championships. and growing out until they are 2 years old and can be tested. Some of those may fail and not be bred at all. Usually a good bedreer will retire a female at 5 or 6 years of age. And will not breed every heat. So at most usually they will only get 3 maybe 4 litters if that many from each female before they are retired. Many bedreers breed even less. So some of those 10 females are retired and having no more puppies. So considering, this bedreer has 10 females. and the breed lives to 15 years old.1-2 dogs will be too young3-4 dogs will be breeding age4-6 dogs will be retired.Plus it is very expensive to breed good quality dogs. See some of the other posts to get an idea of the costs.

  2. There isn’t a huge number of rupateble breeders with that many dogs. Usually people who breed so many puppies are well known among others involved with the particular breed and will get referrals from all over the country, and often even from foreign countries. Despite the fact that they sell so many puppies, these breeders aren’t making much profit, if any. Breeding dogs is just a hobby for them; their actual income comes from their day job.edit: There are also lots of breeders that don’t actually keep all the dogs on their own property. It’s common for a breeder to co-own a dog that they can use for breeding, but that is kept by the other co-owner.There are also some breeders who have partners, so that they both use the same kennel name and share the same dogs, but often live in different cities.

  3. What are key questions to ask when identifying a breeder? Thanks!