Responsible Dog Breeders – What To Look For.


Once you have decided on the breed of dog you want to buy, the next challenge is to find a responsible dog breeder. However, this isn’t always as easy as you might think. This Holidays4Dogs article provides some hints and tips when searching for responsible dog breeders.

Having chosen the breed of dog you want to share your home with, what is the next step?  Depending on the popularity of the breed, you may need to travel further afield to find the right breeder and the perfect puppy. Equally, you should be prepared to wait for the right puppy. Many good dog breeders will already have a waiting list.

Where to find responsible dog breeders.

Most breeds have breed clubs and societies. Many of these operate puppy registers for their members. Likewise, the Kennel Club can provide details of clubs and societies. Many established breeders these days, will have their own internet websites. However, some websites run by hobby breeders can look quite impressive, while the reality can be quite different – always telephone in order to get a better impression. Avoid looking at puppies for sale on internet websites unless you really know what you are looking for.

Questions to ask.

You should expect responsible dog breeders to take an interest in you, as a prospective owner of one of their puppies. They should want to know quite a bit about your circumstances, what experience you have and the sort of home you can offer a puppy – (although no good breeder should be impolite about this).

Also, be ready to ask questions of your own – any good breeder will be more than happy to answer questions, advise and guide you.

If the breeder has no interest in where the puppy is going and does not want to know anything about you, other than when you are coming to pay for a puppy – walk away.


One of the two most important points when viewing puppies is that they should be reared in a home environment and be seen with their mother. The absence of these two criteria should give you cause for concern. Read more here on how to spot a puppy farmer.

However, don’t automatically be impressed by ribbons and rosettes either. There are many, so-called, top notch breeders who are more interested in show ring notoriety and profit from puppies. I have encountered such people myself over the years and it is quite surprising how little regard some, supposedly, high calibre breeders can have when it comes to selling their puppies.

It is not un-common for aesthetic show points to come before temperament. I have seen many show bred dogs with less than agreeable temperaments. If the breeder is a show enthusiast – see whether there are much loved older dogs in the family. Some breeders will re-home dogs once they are too old to be shown, or bred from. The presence of golden oldies can be taken as a positive sign.

The Kennel Club operate an Assured Breeder Scheme which aims to promote ethical and responsible breeding practices.

Visiting a litter of puppies.

When visiting a litter always take a good look at the mother of the puppies and make sure you see her with them. Occasionally, it is possible to see the father too if the breeder owns him – but this is not always the case. Responsible dog breeders will often travel long distances to a suitable stud dog.

Make sure the mother is friendly. Some female dogs will naturally be a little shy and protective of their puppies. However, she should not be overly aggressive towards you.  Likewise, if she seems very timid and frightened it would be wise to choose another breeder and a different litter. A good breeder would never breed from an aggressive, or nervous dog.

Choosing a puppy.

Puppies themselves should be chubby, happy and friendly. Their tails should be wagging – unless of course you have caught them sleeping.

The environment should be clean and should not smell foul. No pup should appear sickly. Look for signs of runny eyes, noses, or messy bottoms.

You should have the opportunity to handle each of the puppies and make your own choice.

However, some responsible dog breeders like to match puppies to owners depending on the pup’s temperament and potential – this is quite common in breeders of working/obedience/trials dogs.

Ask about this before you visit so that if you prefer to choose your own puppy, this can be established beforehand.


Make sure the parents have had all relevant health tests. Responsible dog breeders will be happy to supply proof of this. Do not purchase from breeders who have not carried this out.

If the puppy is to be Kennel Club registered, this is the responsibility of the breeder. When you purchase your puppy, the registration document should be made available at the time. Do not accept this being sent on at a later date. You must then complete a transfer of ownership document.

Some certificates are endorsed – progeny not eligible for registration. This means that, should you want to breed a litter, will not be able to register the puppies with the kennel club.

If you do wish to breed with your pup in the future – discuss this with the breeder at the time of purchase. Some breeders will lift endorsements as long as satisfactory health screening has been done and can be proven. If the breeder does agree to lift these endorsements, subject to conditions, you should get this in writing at the time of sale.


Responsible dog breeders will supply you with written documentation on worming routines, diet, vaccination, exercise and training.  Most good breeders are keen to keep in touch with all the new owners of their puppies. Many are also happy to be available for ongoing advice.

Many excellent breeders will commit to lifelong responsibility to all puppies they have bred. Thus, many responsible dog breeders will ask you to sign a declaration so that, should your circumstances change in the future, you will return the dog to the breeder.