How to Choose a Reputable Dog Breeder

Do not buy a puppy under 10 weeks of age. Most breeders will not let their puppies go before 10 to 12 weeks. A puppy is most vulnerable to diseases such as Distemper and Parvo between 6 to 9 weeks of age when their maternal antibodies begin to break down.

Do not purchase any puppy that has not had proper shots and has not been wormed. A puppy at 8 weeks of age should have had at the very least one modified live Parvo shot, a Distemper Measles Para influenza shot and a DHPP combination shot for minimum protection against these viruses. They should also have had 2 wormings prior to these shots so that a worm infestation will not interfere with the shots. Most puppies that die from Parvo are wormy . Parvo is the biggest killer of young puppies and one of the easiest to spread. A “born in the USA” virus it was spread world wide within a year. Most good breeders give Parvo shots every 2 to 3 week from 6 weeks to 20 weeks to help close the window of opportunity for it to infect their puppies. Maternal antibodies can interfere with the shots and can last up to 16 weeks making the vaccine less effective, but allowing the virus to invade the system when the antibodies are breaking down. Other shots given by breeders usually starting at 8 to10 weeks are the combination  DHPP (Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2, Parainfluenza and Parvo) . The shot information should be listed on your bill of sale along with the name of the Veterinarian. If the shots are given by the breeder ask to see either the bill of sale for the vaccine or the vaccines. This is not an unusual request as this is the only proof of shots you will have. If they do not have a bill of sale for the shots or vaccines they probably have not given them shots.

A breeder should give you a written health guarantee for one year against major genetic or congenital diseases and 15 days from the date of sale against existing problems your Veterinarian might find or incubating viruses.

Check with your Veterinarian about genetic problems associated with the breed you are interested in. Ask if your breeder will stand behind their puppies for these diseases.  Incidentally if your breeder doesn’t know about genetic diseases in their breed go elsewhere.

If you are more knowledgeable about dogs than the breeder don’t buy from them.

You should be able to see at least one parent. The newest scam in California are dog brokers or dealers. and smuggled   (Please read the  BBB and Customs alerts on my home page) They come from out of state and set up business in private homes and apartments. If you ask about the parents they will say ” Uncle Bob from S. Dakota” or “my sister Sue from Kansas ” happened to be passing through and asked me to sell her puppies. I once tracked one dealer that had five breeds advertised all from different states with the same story . He had two different addresses and five phone numbers in six months. People selling puppies that they did not breed (especially from out of state or country )  must have a legal kennel or pet shop.  Never meet a breeder someplace other than his home. You want to see where those puppies were raised. No breeder that cares about their puppies will cart them all over the place and expose them to possible viruses just to make a buck. For all you know that puppy could have been stolen.

Never buy from a breeder with two prices , one with papers and one without. Papers only cost $25.00 plus $2.00 per puppy for an entire litter, so why the difference in price? Buy only AKC or UKC registered purebreds. If they don’t have papers they may have been suspended by their registry for such things as bad record keeping, inhumane living conditions, impure breeding, or cruelty convictions. Unless spaying or  neutering is required prior to registration the breeder should provide you with your registration application. It should be properly signed and transferred to you. If there was a prior owner proper supplemental transfer application should be provided and signed by those previous owners. If no papers are available at the time the breeder should provide you with the registered AKC OR UKC name  of both parents, name of breeder of litter, sex of your puppy , color and date of birth. This is the only hope of getting registration papers if the breeder doesn’t provide them after purchase. There are only two major all breed dog registries in the United States, the American Kennel Club ( AKC) established in 1884 and the United Kennel Club ,(UKC) established in 1898.. There have been a few new all breed registries pop up in the last 10 years, but in my opinion I would only buy from AKC and UKC breeders.

I do not recommend co-ownership’s. Some breeders do this but don’t forget you are not the full owner and if the breeder wants that dog back he may be able to get him. Also if your breeder should be suspended by their registry so is your dog. I also would avoid breeders terms. The breeder will sell the puppy for cash and some puppies. This forces you to breed your dog. The breeder will usually pay the first stud fee but you are responsible for any additional costs of raising the litter and in some cases additional stud fees if the breeder didn’t get the required number of puppies in your litter. I know one man that bred his female 3 times and still owed the breeder one puppy plus an additional one for the next breeding. It is a great deal for the breeder for a constant source of puppies. One breeder had over 300 puppies coming back on puppy back deals. Show contracts can be O.K. as long as you are aware that once the contract is signed you must finish that dog in the show ring. The cost can be quite high and your dog will spend time away from home to be on the show circuit . Spay neuter contracts where papers are provided after proof of altering and in some cases financial penalties if the dog is not altered within a certain period time are perfectly appropriate .  Good breeders will sell with limited registrations, non-breeding  contracts and or neuter contracts and won’t encourage breeding .

A reputable breeder will be able to show you letters and pictures from satisfied clients. Their puppies will be , clean., properly vaccinated and they will not try to push their puppies on you just to get rid of them. They will provide a written health guarantee ( 15 days against viruses and 1 year against congenital or hereditary defects) , shot record ,registration papers or the information stated above if not back from UKC or AKC, a bill of sale, and at least one week supply of food . They also will be there for you after you buy and will always take back the puppy in the future if you are unable to keep it rather then have it turned into the pound. Remember buying from a reputable breeder is a privilege not a done deal..




In California it is illegal for a person to sell more than two (2) pets without a valid sellers permit issued by the State Board of Equalization.  . The permit is free so there is no excuse for any person not to have the permit .  A person who dose not get the permit is more likely not to be reputable in their business practices also . Always ask if they have a sellers permit prior to visiting  and if they say they have one it should be posted where you can see it along with other documentation required by their city such as breeders license, business permits and kennel permits.



  • A licensed professional breeder is the best place. They are usually required by law to stand behind their puppies. They also chose to breed legally. Most are members of dog clubs. 
  • A hobby breeder that has been active for several years in breeding and will stand  in writing behind their puppies. Most are  members of a dog club.
  • A pet shop. If unable to locate a breeder in the above categories you might try a pet shop. They are required in most States to stand behind their puppies. They as a rule usually have inferior quality puppies at top prices but I have seen some nice puppies and adults purchased from pet shops. Most are reputable and won’t knowingly sell a sick dog any  more than a good breeder would, but be aware that there are some bad shops so do your homework. 


  • Mass production kennels usually have several hundred dogs  They breed multiple breeds. Usually sell retail and wholesale. They are generally licensed and must stand behind their puppies but anyone breeding  more than two or three breeds cannot have the  quality control need to breed sound healthy puppies.
  • Backyard breeder. Pet people that breed just for the fun of it and to make a quick buck. They usually sell their puppies too young and by law are exempt from standing behind them. They usually know absolutely nothing about raising puppies only that they are cute. Most don’t give proper shots.
  • Puppy brokers and smugglers.  The the worst place to buy a puppy. They usually operate out of unlicensed homes or meet you parks bringing in many breeds from out of state or country  They usually move regularly and in most cases want only cash. Puppies from Mexico usually cost the smugglers $20 each. Many of the puppies they sell are under aged and sick. Most will require Veterinarian  treatment and many die within the first week usually with Parvo or Distemper. Sooner or latter one will come in with Rabies.

    To encourage quick sales they usually stay under normal selling prices for a young puppy ($300 to $700), although some are getting as much as $1000. The best way to spot one is to ask to see the parents. If they don’t have one of the parents I would not buy one of their puppies. If they ask to meet you half way or in a park or other location other than their home. and DO NOT have them come to your home. Many of these people are criminals and with the park crackdowns, odds are, if they are not already doing it, they will ask to bring the puppy to you. You may be setting yourself up for a home invasion robbery. It has been stated that puppy dealing is quickly taking over drug dealing.

    The average smuggler can easily may $6000 per day will little risk of arrest and usually only a small fine for selling without a permit. The arrests on TV are more for show and only if they already had an outstanding warrant or another reason besides the normal selling puppies (sick or real underage puppies). Most are given a ticket  released with their puppies. It is illegal to sell a puppy under 8 weeks of of age in CA. The only real risk is being caught at the boarder. One was caught with 6 puppies and was fined $3500.