Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. For more information, read my full affiliate disclosure here.
Selecting a dog breeder is an important decision that can have lasting implications for the life of your dog. Use the following tips to make this decision wisely!
Selecting A Dog Breeder
Imagine bringing the puppy of your dreams home and spending the rest of your life with this canine companion by your side. Healthy. Happy.
But you realize that in order to do that, you must find a great dog breeder from which to buy said dream puppy. You need some tips on how to select a dog breeder that qualifies as the best of the best. One who takes their role as your partner in your dog’s life as seriously as you do.
In order to find this person and commit to them, you need the following 10 tips for selecting a dog breeder. If you use these considerations as you interview prospective breeders, I can guarantee you success in landing your dream puppy!
Here we go…
10. Dog Health
Health testing must be a factor in your decision when selecting a dog breeder.
We have come a long way in recent years in the field of canine health and genetic testing and most reputable dog breeders do some or all of this testing on their breeding stock BEFORE breeding in order to both prevent disease in their puppies but also to track their lines for inheritable diseases.
That said, while I know some breeders who question the validity of all these tests, I do not know of any that I would consider reputable that doesn’t do at least SOME health tests on their breeding stock.
If you are considering a breeder that does not test their dogs, walk away… fast!
- Buying a Puppy: The Gap Between Desire and Reason
- The Fallacy of Dog Rescue – Why Reputable Dog Breeders Are NOT the Problem
9. Dog Behavior and Temperament
When selecting a dog breeder, I believe both the personality of the breeder and the temperament of his/her dogs is a consideration that cannot be minimized!
As I mentioned in my first post Do You Own A Big Dog Or Want To? Big Dog Mom Can Help! I have experienced the best and the worst when it comes to temperament.
I encourage you to read Linus’s story here, Life With An Aggressive Dog: A Letter To My Sweet Baboo.
Ask yourself, the following questions:
- Is this breeder someone I can comfortably speak to?
- Do I have a rapport with this dog breeder?
- Is this dog breeder willing to answer all of my questions without being defensive?
- Are they knowledgeable and experienced in the breed?
- Is this breeder respected by colleagues and experts in the breed?
- And, perhaps most importantly, is this dog breeder asking YOU more questions than you are asking him/her?
If your answer is no to any one of these, walk away!
The Ultimate Guide for big Dog Owners
Get a FREE DOs and DON’Ts Guide when you subscribe to the Big Dog Weekly Newsletter.
8. Pedigree and Lineage
When you are choosing a dog breeder, I strongly urge you to do your homework on the history of their pedigrees.
What you see is a strong indicator of what you will be getting. If you don’t like it, walk away… kindly.
7. Reputation in the Dog World
What are other people saying about this breeder?
Now, I’m not talking about gossip or Facebook silliness, but honest feedback from respected folks in the breed.
Does this person have a positive reputation? Can you speak to former puppy buyers, the breeder’s veterinarian, or maybe to popular handlers whom you trust to get information?
“Like” them on Facebook and observe how they speak to people and what information they share. I have found true colors are often seen in social media so go with your gut on this one.
Do your due diligence!
And if you would like help with what questions to ask prospective breeders and others to assess their reputation during this due diligence process, read the Top 7 Questions To Ask A Dog Breeder Before Buying A Puppy.
And when you are ready, download your free 40 Questions to Ask a Dog Breeder Guide to use during your interviews.
6. Long-term commitment
Selecting a dog breeder is a decision with long term ramifications.
Ask yourself if this person is committed to you, the prospective buyer, and to the puppies they produce?
Does this breeder have a solid contract in place for this puppy that protects both you and the breeder for the life of the dog?
As a Big Dog Mom, I do maintain consistent communication with Junior’s and Sulley’s breeders.
I have come to understand what an important and valuable relationship these are for me and for my dogs and how much I value the knowledge, expertise, and support they give me.
5. Honesty and integrity
Look for a dog breeder that will share with you the positives and the negatives about their dogs.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this person gloss over the negatives or present them as positives?
- Does he present his dogs as though they are perfect?
- Does this breeder hyper-focus on some areas but not others?
In the world of Mastiffs, breeders who consistently tout and publicly report their dogs’ size and weight are a huge pet peeve for me.
When a Mastiff fits the breed standard, his size and weight will fall in line where genetics say they should. Therefore a dog breeder who focuses on his dog’s size and weight is doing both his dogs and the Mastiff breed a huge injustice.
In your breed, is it excessive wrinkle, angulation, or drive, etc.?
4. Early Socialization and puppy fear periods
Your dog breeder will be the one person solely responsible for the care and raising of your new puppy for the first 8-10+ weeks of his/her life.
Future posts will focus on the critical periods of development that a puppy goes through during these early weeks and what breeders can/should do to make the most of them.
3. Ask for feedback
If you have a family, consider selecting a dog breeder to be a family decision.
What does your spouse think? If not a spouse, a trusted friend or family member?
Don’t discount the feedback you get.
Don’t make excuses. Just listen and take it all in.
2. Trust your gut
Alright, time for a gut check. Is there anything still nagging at you or questions you have that have gone unanswered?
I have found that, especially when puppies are already on the ground and I have already fallen in love, this gut check is particularly challenging.
Like with human relationships, sometimes we have a hard time defining exactly what is in our gut.
However, if your gut is saying no, go with it!
1. Your future with this Dog Breeder
Now, after all of that, close your eyes. Imagine 10 years into the future.
Do you see your big dog, with his sweet gray muzzle and calming spirit, faithfully warming your feet as you send off random pictures of him sleeping to his breeder?
If not, what do you see?
As Franklin Covey says, “Begin with the End in Mind.” Can you see yourself working with this breeder for the next 8-10 years?
If you can, congratulations!! I can’t wait to see pictures of your new puppy!
Did I Miss Anything?
I am curious what you think about this list?
Are there other considerations you have used when selecting a dog breeder? I would love to hear from you!
Please leave me a comment and tell me what has worked well. What hasn’t?