We all know that there are puppies everywhere. Doodles have become so popular so quickly over the last few years that distinguishing who is a reputable breeder out of the many options out there can be overwhelming!
Simply googling “goldendoodle puppy” (or whatever your breed of choice is) will offer a huge variety of results. The top sites will be large databases of puppy classifieds such as “puppyfind.com” or “greenfield puppies.” At the click of a mouse, you can access hundreds of available puppies! But how do you find a good puppy breeder from so many options?
For one, the prices seem to vary greatly. While its certainly possible that a reputable breeder may post his/her puppies on one of these database sites, there is generally no way to distinguish who is reputable or not simply by looking at these profiles or ads.
These sites have no criteria or screening processes to limit who posts puppies on their sites so its often an easy way for less than reputable breeders to advertise their pups. So while it’s possible to find a puppy available on one of these sites and do a thorough screening of the breeder to determine if they are reputable or not, it is not our first recommendation.
Many good puppy breeders have long waiting lists, so having a lot of available puppies can be a sign that the breeder is either not well-established, or worse, someone who is simply churning out litter after litter without much effort on finding their pups good homes.
Recently, other puppy database sites such as “gooddog.com” started to try and eliminate some of the puppy mills or other less than reputable breeders by actually have a screening process before allowing a breeder to advertise through their site.
To become a member on one of these sites, a breeder must provide proof of health testing and go through an interview process. This does help eliminate many less than reputable breeders and can be a helpful place to start your search for a breeder.
Simply having a cute picture of a puppy or a well-written advertisement does not make one a good breeder. Most well-established breeders will have a robust website. This is a simple place to start to gather some basic information.
Still, as anyone can attest who has scrolled through Facebook or Instagram, it is easy to paint the world with rose colored glasses online. We find that while the internet is a useful tool, having some personal interaction with a breeder is of utmost importance when it comes to avoiding getting scammed or buying a poor-quality puppy.
Personal recommendations can be another helpful place to start. Although again, a word of caution, make sure the person recommending the breeder can tell you why they liked their breeder. Simply loving their dog is not always a clear indicator of the quality of the breeder. Dogs as a whole are a pretty amazing species so it’s no surprise that even less than reputable breeders can produce some lovable and adorable puppies.
But just one cute puppy may not speak to their overall breeding methods when it comes to health testing, socializing puppies, etc. For example, a breeder who does not perform genetic health testing on their pups may have produced a perfectly healthy pup that your neighbor’s uncle adopted, but there is certainly no guarantee that all their pups will be healthy.
Often the combination of a personal recommendation, careful review of the breeder’s website, followed up by personal interaction and interview with the specific breeder is the recipe for identifying a trusted breeder!
If you have done your due diligence as far as looking through reviews, reading the breeder’s website, etc. and are ready to take the next step with interacting with the breeder, there are a few questions that can help you identify a responsible breeder. A few at the top of our list would be:
1. Find a Good Puppy Breeder That Tests the Parent Dog’s Health
Breed specific genetic health testing on the parent dogs ensures that your pup will not have a genetically inheritable disease. Hip/elbow testing is especially important for larger breeds of dogs to avoid the common issue of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can lead to arthritis of the joints, or crippling lameness in severe cases. This is a genetic condition and therefore all parent dogs need to be health tested against it.
Other less common genetic diseases may include skin diseases, valve diseases and Obstructive Airway Syndrome. These are less common but a proper screening can catch these defects and ensure the health of the parent dogs.
Unfortunately, just because a breeder’s website says they health test their puppies is no guarantee that this is actually the case. As mentioned previously, a website check is a good first step, but following up with a personal interaction is key. Do not be afraid to ask the breeder which health tests they do and/or to show you proof of the parents’ health testing.
2. A Good Puppy Breeder Also Vet Checks Their Dogs
Good puppy breeders will have their pups see a vet before going home with you (usually around six weeks of age) to make sure their heart, eyes, etc. have no defects. Furthermore, puppies should be microchipped and receive their first round of vaccines before coming home to you at roughly 8 weeks of age (more rounds of vaccines if they are older). Again, you can verify that the breeder is following through on their word by asking if you will receive paperwork with your puppy.
A breeder should be sending home vaccination records, vet records, and information on how to register your pup’s microchip.
3. Ask Where The Breeder Raises Their Puppies
Are the puppies outside in a barn with minimal interaction with people? Does the breeder perform the bare minimum as far as daily cleaning and feeding, or does he/she follow an enrichment or socialization program?
Even if a breeder does not follow a specific program, he/she should be able to go into great detail about what efforts they are making to socialize their pups — interaction with different people, some basic training/conditioning, etc. As we have stated previously, simply relying on a breeder’s website and not verifying information can be a mistake.
However, this is one case where often following a breeder’s social media account can be helpful as most breeders who socialize their pups well are eager to show off their hard work and often have pictures of puppies in a variety of settings or working through their enrichment exercises on their social media accounts. Asking breeders for pictures or video of where their pups are raised will help verify this information even if they do not have social media accounts.
These questions simply scratch the surface when it comes to identifying a reputable breeder. There are a number of other questions and issues that can help determine whether or not a breeder is prioritizing health and temperament in their program. For more questions to consider asking your breeder, check out our previous post, “What questions should I ask when buying a puppy?”
While it can be more work on the front end to find a reputable puppy breeder, it can save you lots of money and heartache in the future as you will be ensuring that you are receiving a healthy, well-tempered pup.
Jenna and the JLDD Team