You’re ready for a new puppy. Now what? It took long enough to decide on the breed you want, and you’ve looked at a ton of pictures and videos and breeders online. The problem is, how do you know which breeder to go with? Sure, there are lots of nice pictures of cute puppies and many testimonials saying how great they are, but is this just hype? How can you really know?

To avoid the nightmares many other puppy parents have endured, such as getting an unhealthy puppy, a puppy with major behavior issues, or a puppy with genetic defects that aren’t discovered until years later, it’s imperative that you become educated on how to find the right breeder. You don’t want to end up with a puppy you love, but a puppy that isn’t right for you and causes a great deal of heartache. This happens way too often to gullible new puppy parents.

First, narrow down your online search to a list of six or seven breeders that interest you. They should have websites that have good ratings. Make sure you notice the ratings first thing before you go any further. If they have low ratings, there’s a very good reason for that and you shouldn’t bother to go beyond this step with this breeder.

Second, do they have any seals of approval or certifications from organizations like Good Dog and TellTail (certifying they are scam-free) and seals from reputable genetics companies that specialize in genetic testing on breeding dogs. These are important signs that a breeder takes their business seriously and spends the extra money to insure best practices in breeding services.

Third, you make sure their websites list the following:

1.     They provide complete health records for their puppies.

2.     They provide results from genetic medical testing of the parents.

3.     They retain puppies until they are eight weeks of age.

4.     They allow and even encourage buyers to visit puppies in their homes prior to pick-up.

5.     Puppies are raised in the home and not in a kennel or barn or away from people, and the puppies are socialized.

6.     Have a puppy area that allows for play and a separate area for going pee and poop, so they are starting to become potty trained.

7.     They encourage buyers to become part of the puppy socialization process and encourage puppy training classes and even recommend specific classes where previous puppies have gone and had success.

8.     Will take a puppy back from a buyer at any time for any reason.

Next, that’s when you want to read the testimonials on the site. It tells you a bit about the breeder, but then again, this is not the best determination and can be altered by the breeder, but it does give you a little insight into their business. If you are able to locate one of these puppy owners online, ask them about their experience through social media. They might be more apt to be completely honest if they talk with you one-on-one.

These are the steps you take before you EVER contact the breeder. And you should do this with at least half a dozen so you can narrow down to a few you’re most comfortable with contacting. In our next blog, we’ll go to the next step in this process: contacting the breeder and what questions you should ask before you set an appointment to visit them. Once you set up the appointment to visit them, there’s a list of things to pay close attention to once you get there. The list is important, so you should write them down before you go. Once you leave the location, before you even get back on the road, you should take time to go over the list and make notes so you don’t forget. The answers to these questions will be vital to your decision-making process.

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