Consider Adoption First

There are many amazing pets looking for loving homes in our community shelters and reputable rescues! Additionally, you can search regional shelters or use But, if you are unable to find the right loving match despite your thorough, flexible, patient efforts, then we urge you to only work with a “responsible” breeder. Our goal is to highlight the primary things to consider to ensure that your new pet is coming from a safe and humane environment. 

The following guide will help you find a responsible breeder to work with.

What to expect from a responsible breeder:

  • They are open, honest, and transparent about their breeding practices and their pets.
  • Openly talk about positive and negative traits of the breed to ensure you are a good match for the expected breed traits.
  • They will invite you to meet the puppy/kitten’s parents and see where the pets are bred and live. This is very important. If you cannot be there in-person, they should give you a virtual tour.
  • They will want to know everything about you and your family, and your plan for caring for her. Responsible breeders will make sure their pets are going to a great home based on the pet’s individual needs.
  • They are proud of their practices and should belong to reputable breed groups or competitions. They consider the puppy/kitten’s parents their well-cared for pets.
  • They are able to provide references from other families who have purchased from them, and from their veterinarian. They provide veterinarian records, age-appropriate vaccinations, and dewormer.
  • Responsible breeders carry documentation that the pet’s parents have been tested for genetic and developmental issues, and remove affected animals from their breeding program. Affected animals are altered and placed into loving homes with families with full disclosure of these issues.
  • If a breeder does not have a litter available at the time of contact, please note that this is a good thing. Responsible breeders will never keep more animals than they can provide excellent care for, and will happily put you on a list for future litters.
  • Responsible breeders limit the number of litters per year for each female. The number should be very low, 2-3 (or once every two heat cycles), because of the stress on the female. 
  • Please note that some short-snout breeds (brachycephalic) can usually only be birthed by C-section (e.g., Boston Terrier, French Bulldog, Pekingese, Mastiff, Saint Bernard, Persian, Himalayan, etc). While certainly debatable, we discourage people from purchasing such a pet because they are so genetically challenged that they can’t give birth without human intervention. Many brachycephalic pets continue to face health challenges throughout their lives.

What to expect of a puppy/kitten from a responsible breeder:

– They are well-socialized, meaning they are comfortable with people and not overly nervous or afraid.

– They are kept in healthy and humane conditions with their mother up until they are old enough to be separated from her at around 8-12 weeks of age.

– They have plenty of comfortable space in the breeding facility and are not confined to small cages. 

– They are given enough space and activity required by their expected breed traits. For example, hunting and working breed dogs will have lots of space to work out their high levels of energy.

Purchasing Your Puppy/Kitten:

You should not feel pressured to purchase a puppy/kitten. The breeder should make you feel comfortable and welcome your questions! If not, then please walk away.

You may be asked to provide proof that your landlord or HOA allows pets.

The breeder should give you a contract and health guarantee to review before the pet is officially yours. A purchasing contract will include a requirement to spay or neuter the pet. It will also ask you to return the puppy or kitten to them if you cannot keep the pet at any point.

How to spot and avoid dogs from puppy mills:

Pet stores with puppies that are not from a local shelter or rescue are likely getting them from puppy mills (i.e., mass breeding facilities). Please do not purchase puppies from Puppy Love in Sparks as the owners have been indicted for animal abuse, practicing veterinarian medicine without a license, and have been documented purchasing their puppies from puppy mills.

Websites or online sellers with a broad variety of puppies are most likely getting them from puppy mills. Responsible breeders focus on only one or two breeds.

Some puppy mill sellers will pose as breeders online, and make it appear that the puppies are coming from a safe and happy home. But, if they refuse to let you visit beforehand or offer a video tour, that is a red flag that they are not breeding responsibly.

How to spot a puppy scam:

In your research, you will see many sites claiming to have a “No Puppy Mill Promise” and to be partnered with well-recognized organizations like the American Kennel Club. Be sure to read reviews to make sure the website is legitimate. 

If anyone asks you to give money without meeting the puppy or the breeder first, do not work with them. Unfortunately, we see scams quite often on Craigslist and similar websites.


Written by Ana Hurt

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