I have had many people ask me what I look for in a good breeder, when looking for a puppy to add to my family. So I have made a list for you here:
1. The breeder is knowledgeable. They can give you lots of information about their breed and why they decided to breed their chosen breed. They will answer questions about where they are going with their breeding program and are enthusiastic about their breed.
2. The breeder health tests their breeding dogs. This is going to be different in every breed, as different breeds have different health tests required. Look up the health tests in the breed you want to buy and ask the breeder if they do these health tests. The breeder should be able to tell you what health tests are needed and why they are needed for their breed.
3. The breeder should be socializing their puppies. This can come in many different forms. Some breeders do Early Neurological Stimulation, Rule of Seven or other individualized programs to ensure that their puppies are well socialized. The key is to make sure that the breeder understands the importance of socialization and spends the time to do it.
4. Always (when possible) visit where the puppies are going to be raised and meet the parents. This is very important. If a breeder will not allow you in their home (especially when you pick up your puppy), this is a major red flag. Now, I am not talking about breeders that won't let you in their home when the puppies are small, since that is a safety issue for the puppies due to Parvo and other contagious illnesses. I am talking about breeders that won't let you visit when they don't have puppies or when you pick up your puppy and they want to meet you outside their home or at another location. Most reputable breeders will have a waiting list and you could potentially be waiting many months before your puppy is born. Use that opportunity to visit the breeders home and meet the parents of the puppies and talk to the breeder. Also, when you visit your puppy and pick up your puppy, you should be able to sit in the breeders home and see where your puppy was raised.
5. Does the breeder attempt to do any training with your puppy. A reputable breeder will want your puppy to transition into their new home with you as smoothly as possible. Part of this is providing things like puppy pad or litter training for the puppies and even better if they start puppies on crate training, leash training, etc. These puppies will transition so much smoother into a new home and it shows that the breeder cares.
6. Vet Care. At the very least every breeder should have a thorough health exam done on every puppy before they go to their new homes. This is both important for the breeder to make sure that there is no issues they should be aware of for their breeding program, but also to make sure that every puppy is going home healthy and happy.
7. Vaccinations and Dewormings. Every puppy should be vaccinated at least once before going to their new homes, as well as, being thoroughly dewormed or had fecal samples done to ensure they are free from parasites.
8. Puppy Package. Most breeders will provide a puppy package with their puppies. This is a package that contains things to also make the transition into their new home smooth. Things like a blanket that smells like dam/litter mates, familiar toys, healthy treats, their current food, so they don't transition to quickly onto another food, etc. Every package is completely different, but it does show that the breeder is thinking of the transition for the puppy when they go to their new home. At the very least i would like to see the breeder provide their current food or talk about their current food and the importance to (if changing the food) transition them slowly onto another food.
9. Pictures. This is especially important for someone that doesn't live close to their breeder. A reputable breeder will send you pictures of puppies. Most have a website or social media page where they will have pictures, but at the very least, will send you pictures on request. Make sure to examine the pictures. I know that it is hard to look past cute puppies but, what is in the background? Are their pictures of their whelping area? Is it clean? Proper bedding? Are the puppies themselves clean? Is the house a disaster in the background? Does it look like they made an effort to take these pictures or did they just do it on a whim? While good pictures does not prove a good breeder, bad pictures can give you indications of potentially a breeder that doesn't care.
10. Contract and Health Guarantee. A reputable breeder will provide you with a contract and a health guarantee. Make sure that you get this in writing, as it shows that the breeder will stand behind their puppies. I prefer to see at least a 2 year health guarantee.
11. Social Media. I know as a breeder, I use social media to 'check out' my potential puppy buyers. This is a great tool to use to see what kind of a person your breeder is. Do they have pictures of their dogs? Do they have positive information about animals on there? You can tell a lot about someone by their social media. You can also google your breeder to see if there is anything out there to worry about.