Reputable breeders
Reputable breeders do not breed to make money or because they think their dog is cute. Too often, unsuspecting people purchase puppies from backyard breeders or neighbors. More often than not, these dogs are not suitable for breeding and do not have optimal health, optimal temperaments, or optimal structure for the breed.

A good breeder breeds dogs for only one reason – to improve the breed, including health, temperament, and structure. They are driven to contribute something to the breed and work closely within the breed community to accomplish this.

Look for one who:

-Only breeds one or two types of dogs and is deeply knowledgeable about the “breed standard” (the desired structure, size, proportion, coat, color, and temperament) and is breeding in adherence to this standard.

-Explains in detail the health issues common in the breed and specifically in the breeder’s dogs. She explains the potential genetic problems based on ancestral history.

-Provides information on at least 4 generations behind both parents of the puppy – the more the better. Included is cause of death and age at death if known.

-Provides documentation for each parent of health certification appropriate for the breed, including OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) for hips and elbows, CERF for eye certification, heart, thyroid, DNA and blood disorder certifications.

-Demonstrates appropriate knowledge of how best to care for the breed based on genetic health predispositions and needs, including vaccination, chemical exposure, drug contraindications, and diet.

-Is actively involved with the National Breed Club and adheres to its Code of Ethics for Breeders. Good breeders may also actively compete in conformation, obedience, or sport trials.

-Always provides a written contract designed to protect the puppy (not you OR breeder). The contract specifies your obligation for care and health certifications and the breeder’s commitment to support for the lifetime of the puppy, including taking the puppy back should anything interfere with your ability to care for it.

-Requires you to spay or neuter the dog at the appropriate age in the written contract, unless the breeder specifically makes breeding arrangements with you or sells you a puppy for “show”. This ensures protection of the breeder’s responsibilities as a reputable breeder and prevents irresponsible breeding.

-Feeds high quality nutrition and understands what this means. If the breeder does not feed whole foods (optimal), then at a minimum feeds a high quality kibble without chemical preservatives, low quality ingredients and excessive grains.

-Expects to meet you, and the family, prior to placing a puppy with you and encourages visits. Wants to ensure an appropriate match between your needs and the puppy’s needs and temperament and as a result, interviews you at length about what you are looking for.

-Requires you to explain how this puppy will live, where it will sleep, what rules will be implemented, training provided, and whether someone will be home to attend to its needs.

-Raises its dogs in the home, not in an outdoor kennel, and can show you where the dogs are kept and spend most of their time.

-Encourages you to spend time with the parents, or at least mother, when you visit and has dogs that appear happy, healthy, and excited to meet new people without shying away from visitors or things.

-Does not have puppies regularly available, rather only has a litter when an excellent match between two healthy dogs is found that is believed to positively contribute to the breed. As a result, you will likely wait for your puppy.

In return, a good breeder will require you to commit to her care protocol in order to receive her “health guarantees”, to spay and neuter appropriately to avoid irresponsible breeding outside of her breeding program and to promise to return the dog if you are ever unable to care for it.

If a breeder does not meet these criteria, you are strongly encouraged to walk away. Reputable breeders are not difficult to find, but do require diligence on your part and a willingness to do your homework. Remember, it is well worth this investment to have a healthy and balanced dog who will likely be with you for years to come.

You can find reputable breeders by contacting the national and local breed club for referrals and attending breed specific shows/events to learn more. Remember, a reputable breeder will never sell dogs through a pet store or any other way that allows for a blind purchase of their animal and no way of knowing that the buyer will provide a responsible, lifelong home.

Looking for a Puppy?

So you have evaluated your lifestyle and living environment and now know exactly what type of dog you are looking for. You know the appropriate energy level, exercise requirements, and breed traits that are suitable for you.

You also know that you must evaluate individual characteristics in individual dogs because there is no “breed guarantee”. You have calculated the cost of the dog, including food, training, regular exercise, and vet bills for the life of the animal and are prepared to work through problems with the dog, whether health or behavior based. You also recognize that a dog is a lifetime commitment and you are prepared to take care of this animal for its lifetime.

Before answering an advertisement in the paper, or heading to a pet store, please stop and carefully consider this advice on the best, and most appropriate way to get a puppy. This serves you, avoiding headache and heartache, as well as the health and welfare of the puppy:

1. Because you know that approximately one in four dogs in shelters in the U.S. are purebred dogs, you start there. The best thing you can do is help a homeless dog and have an impact on the approximately 5 million dogs euthanized each year in U.S. shelters.

2. You also check out your local breed rescue groups for your desired breed. These groups rescue their specific breed from homes and shelters throughout the region and can further educate you on the breed to ensure a good match.

3. You already know better than to buy a puppy from a pet store because these puppies come from puppymills and backyard breeders and you do not want to perpetuate the demand for these unscrupulous breeding practices. If you are truly naïve to puppymills, please learn more about them and pet stores. You can start at and

4. So you have decided to purchase a dog from a breeder at this point. You want to be sure not to support an unethical or unknowledgeable breeder who does not have the dog’s best interests in mind. Here are critical things to keep in mind to identify a reputable breeder:

Health Registries

Resources & links

National Breed Club Websites
Health Index – what to look for:

Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)
is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

University of Pennsylvania
Hip Improvement Program:

What is Pennhip:

Locate a veterinarian in your state that
does PennHip evaluations:

Locate veterinarian in or outside the USA:

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

What is hip Dysplasia:

Breeder Guidelines:

OFA Elbow:

What is Elbow Dysplasia:

OFA Cardiac:

Holter Test for Boxers:

OFA Thyroid:

OFA Thyroid Application

Thyroid Testing
Michigan State University
Endocrine Diagnostic Center

Contact MSU Endocrine Diagnostic Center
4125 Beaumont Rd.
Lansing, MI 48910
(517) 353-0621

Canine Eye Registration Foundation:

What is CERF:

CERF Clinics:

Contact CERF
1717 Philo Rd
P O Box 3007
Urbana, IL 61803-3007
fax: 217-693-4801

Type I von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) Testing:

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