Help keep dogs out of shelters IV: Finding a high-quality dog breeder

Help keep dogs out of shelters IV: Finding a high-quality dog breeder
A purebred Samoyed 10 week old puppy.


By reading parts I through III of this series, you have learned what puppymills and backyard breeders are and how to recognize when a dog seller is one of these type of enterprises and NOT a high quality dog breeder.

Now,  you will learn how to find a high quality pure bred dog breeder.

How to find a high-quality breeder of purebred dogs:

Research websites to find legitimate dog breeders

One of the best ways to find a high-quality breeder is to research online. Most legitimate breeders will have a website that should reflect the good practices that I indicate below.

What about Word of Mouth?

But there are also many legitimate breeders that don’t have a website and rely solely on word of mouth. A word-of-mouth source can be good if you have complete confidence in them, such as your trusted veterinarian or grooming professional.

What about kennel clubs?

You can look for breeders listed under a reputable regional kennel club. But often kennel clubs are not credible (!!), and do not impose any criteria for the breeder to qualify to register their dogs with that kennel club. For these latter type kennels, anyone can register any dog! So this means puppy mills and backyard breeders can register their puppies with these non-credible kennel clubs.


So it’s best to research the given kennel club to find out what criteria breeders must meet for dog registration. If the kennel club says there are none, or you discern they have superficial rules, then do not look into their breeders. Such kennel clubs most likely have puppy mills and backyard breeders listed in their directories.

If you live in the United States, please note that The American Kennel Club is not known as a reputable club. This is because it appears that anyone can register their dogs with this club, not just legitimate professional breeders. So I would not recommend contacting them. It is my understanding that the United States lacks any reputable kennel club.


  1. In Canada, the Canadian Kennel Club has some standards for breeders to meet in order to register their dogs. But you still must check that the breeder you are considering follows all of the good practices listed below to confirm that they qualify as a purebred breeder and are not a puppy mill or backyard breeder.
  2. My research indicates that The Kennel Club UK is reputable and has very strict rules for breeders to register their dogs. I highly recommend that you look for a breeder registered with this club if you live in the UK. Notwithstanding, you still need to check that the breeder displays all of the signs of a high-quality breeder listed below. (Please note that this kennel club only has a Facebook Page and does not have an actual website. So do not go to any URL websites that look similar to this kennel’s identity — these websites are likely suspicious directories. You can also copy their official Facebook address to your browser if the above UK Kennel club link doesn't work from this News Letter platform... )

How to weed out the poor-quality breeder?

Once you have decided on several potential breeders for your new puppy, put them to the test! The following questions will go a long way to reveal the type of organization or person you are dealing with:

5 Questions to ask the breeder

Questions to ask the seller, and circumstances to be aware of:

  1. When you call a source who is selling puppies, ask if they have any puppies for sale. If they say they have lots….hang up! If they say they don’t have any puppies today but they can get you a puppy within any number of days, DO NOT BUY A PUPPY FROM THIS SOURCE. These answers represent the primary sign that they are a puppy mill because they have a steady supply of puppies. No reputable breeder can be considered high quality or legitimate if they have “lots” of puppies or can get you a puppy soon. Reputable breeders have a small number of litters per year. And high-quality purebred breeders often have a waiting list of people who they call when a litter is available.
  2. Let’s say the seller passes question 1 of the test. They have stated they only have a couple of puppies currently available. Question 2 is to ask why these puppies have not been purchased yet? Since reputable breeders produce few litters per year, and usually have waiting lists, you want to understand why these puppies remain. Listen and judge whether their answer indicates a puppy mill or backyard breeder situation.
  3. And then ask when can you come to visit and see the puppies and their mother? If they say no, we bring the puppy to you…hang up. If they say yes you may visit, but the mother is not there (for any reason)…hang up. These are definitely signs that they are a puppy mill or some other criminal dog trade enterprise. They don’t want you to see where the puppies live and they won’t let you see the mother dog. Even during COVID-19 times, there are ways to see the puppies and the mother, such as outdoors with all parties wearing face masks. If the weather is bad, then the breeder should have a designated indoor space that allows for social distancing and face masks.
  4. If they say they have a small number of puppies available and the mother is on site for you meet her, ask how many breeding females do they have? One is ideal. But it is possible for a reputable breeder to have up to 4 breeding females (hard to say with just this answer) – so keep asking questions.
  5. Ask them how often do they breed each female. If they say regularly…hang up! (I will discuss more about high-quality breeder breeding schedules later on.)

Walk away!

All of the above situations are signals that the source is likely a puppy mill or backyard breeder. So please WALK AWAY from these sources and avoid perpetuating the abuse that these dogs and puppies must endure. If people like you can recognize the signs of puppy mills and backyard breeders, you will individually remove their profit, thereby collectively end this horrific and illegal industry.

Stay tuned for part V of this series to learn the 10 signs of a high quality pure bred breeder.