Qualities To Look For In An Ethical Dog Breeder


Getting a dog sounds straightforward, but the process can be very difficult. You should know that you can get a dog through adoption, rescue, or buying one. Most people prefer buying a puppy since it gives them more options on the breed they can choose, plus other factors. But then you can’t just buy a purebred dog from anywhere. There’s a lot of research you have to do to get a breeder that has the pet’s best interests at heart—someone who cares about the dog just as much as he does about the person buying it. 

One reason why it is so important to get your dog from ethical breeders is that the dog’s first few days and weeks are essential for its development. A good breeder makes sure they lay an excellent foundation to encourage positive behavior. This makes it easier for you to love and take care of the dog. 

So, how do you identify an ethical dog breeder? The first thing you can do is consult a friend, veterinarian, boarding kennels, and groomers in your area. Reputable breeders are bound to be popular. They actually get many clients through word of mouth. But this alone is not enough. Once you get a list of three or so breeders, take the next step of scrutinizing each of them to identify the best one. Here are the things you should look for: 

History And Experience

The history and experience of a breeder can tell you a lot about their expertise in breeding a particular dog. This is especially crucial when you are looking for a unique purebred dog. So ask the breeder how long they’ve been in the business and how many years have they been breeding the specific dog you want.

You can also do your independent research online. Search the name of the breeder and see whether they have any online presence. If they do, look for independent reviews from past clients. 

Utilize platforms like Reddit to get some extra background information about them. A breeder with no online presence at all does not necessarily translate to poor services, but it doesn’t paint a good picture either. So, if you can’t find any information online, you’ll need to be even keener with the other qualities discussed below. 

Medical History Of The Puppy And Parents

Medical history is very crucial. You want to make sure you’re dealing with a breeder that maintains all the records of medical conditions and treatment of the puppies and their parents. 

Start by asking what the common medical issues are for the specific breed you are interested in. Then ask if the puppy and its parents have been tested for genetic conditions. And if so, are they healthy, or do they require extra medical care? Ask if the puppies have already gone through the first round of vaccinations. 

An ethical breeder will have the answers to all these questions and documentation to prove the same. They should also provide some details on whether the parents have Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) registration.

The medical history of the puppies is not just good in determining how much the breeder cares about the pets, but it can also help you make a better decision on the breed you want. For instance, a breed like a cocker spaniel is known for being prone to many health issues, which means you must be active and available to keep them healthy. If your lifestyle and budget cannot support them, the best thing is to choose a puppy that requires less medical attention.

Knowledge About The Breeds

You expect an ethical breeder to have extensive knowledge of all the breeds they raise. They should be able to give you the finer details of the particular breed you want and help you decide whether it is a good fit for you or not. For instance, they can tell you about the exercise requirements of the dog. Some puppies are super active and require regular walks and exercises, something that you may not be able to provide if you have a very busy lifestyle.

You should also get details on temperament, potential size, and special needs if any.

Available And Transparent

Ethical breeders are transparent about their operations. They also don’t have a problem scheduling an appointment and giving you the opportunity to visit their premises, investigate the place, and interact with the dogs. Finding dog breeders who invite you to their facilities should be a top priority. There’s so much you can learn through personal appointments than phone calls. 

When you get the chance to visit the place, check how hygienic it is. How does the place smell? Are the dogs well-fed? Is there an area where the dogs can exercise or are they just confined in cages? Are there some toys for the puppies? What about the small breeds – do they have a breeder’s home? 

The socialization of pups is essential in advancing their development and improving temperament. This basically means that you need to compare the numbers of litters in the facility to the staff working there. Is the ratio reasonable enough to give each puppy quality one-on-one time? 

Networks With Veterinarians

A good breeder should have a list of reputable veterinarians who provide essential services to the pets. You should get the details of the vets, especially if the puppy requires special medical attention.


Ethical breeders do not hesitate to share a list of names of their previous clients. They will readily give you the contact details of the references for you to make further inquiries.

Take at least two contact details and reach out to the families. Two of the most important questions you should ask are, did the temperaments match what the breeder said? And did any unexpected medical issues develop? 

Return And Refund Policy

A breeder with the pet’s interest at heart will be willing to take the puppy back when some unexpected issues prevent you from giving the pups the best care. This may include the development of any severe medical conditions that may make it difficult for you to handle the pet. 

It’s possible that the dog will get ill and die within the first few days or weeks of getting home. Good breeders will refund your money or let you get a different dog. 

Besides the return and refund policy, an ethical breeder will have time for any issues you may have once you take the dog home. They’ll be available for any questions or concerns you may have as the puppy transitions into your home. 


A responsible breeder does not sell his puppies to anyone. Expect them to have a keen interest in your ability to take care of the pet. That’s why most breeders do not sell their purebred dogs to strangers on the internet unless they meet and vet them in person. 

Expect the following questions:

Do you have a yard? 

The breeder will ask about your living situation at home. Like are you a homeowner or a renter, and whether you have a yard? This is especially important if you are interested in an active dog that requires an adequate playing area.

The breeder may also inquire about the number of people living in your house and if you have children or not. Some may even go as far as asking if they can drop by and see the puppy’s new living space. 

Do you have experience with the breed? 

Having past experience with a breed is not a necessity, but it may help the breeder gauge your ability to care for sensitive breeds that demand a lot of attention. They can also use this information to advise you on the puppy you should take.

Why are you adopting?

The motivation behind getting a puppy says a lot about your commitment. A loving puppy deserves a stable home. The only way to ensure they get such a home is by handing them over to people with the best intentions. So don’t get offended by the question.

How much time do you have to spend with the pet?

Lonely dogs are sad pets, and this sadness can take its toll on their mental wellness. You must spend quality time with the puppy, be it playing in the backyard or walking them. Some of them are actually very active and will require long playtime or walks almost every day of the week. And there are so many benefits of spending time with your pup.

So, do your job and lifestyle leave you with sufficient time to bond with the dog? 

A little patience is necessary when searching for an ethical dog breeder. Even when you find one, you may not be able to walk home with a puppy just yet. Most breeders will let you sign the waiting list because they cannot hand over puppies unless they are at least eight weeks old. This is good for you too since it gives you time to prepare your house for the grand arrival of your new best friend.

Tim Hanson (105)

Contributing writer at Preferable Pups!