Responsible Breeders

Dr. Willard’s Supports Responsible Dog Breeders!

In our last pet related blog, we discussed our advocacy of adopting animals from shelters and rescue organizations, and we encouraged readers to do the same. Dr. Willard’s exercises objectivity whenever possible, but we have a soft spot for rescue animals because the story of Aspen, an animal from the Big Dogs Huge Paws organization that was adopted into the Willard family, is what inspired our line of Pet Products in the first place. Dr. Willard’s also recognizes, however, that responsible breeders do exist, and in our ongoing effort to be informative and educational on a wide range of topics, we’ll be going over some ways you can identify a good breeder and how to find one in your area.

How to Tell if a Breeder is Responsible

If you are not comfortable with taking in a shelter dog or want to have a certain breed, it shouldn’t be hard for you to find a reputable and responsible breeder in your area.  While there are clearly some bad actors in the industry, doing a little research should ensure that you find a good breeder.  There are ways you can make sure that a breeder is truly trustworthy with the tips below. The Humane Society also provides a printable checklist, which lists criteria a breeder should meet to prove that they do not run a puppy mill.

Responsible breeders:


  1. Sell Select Breeds – While you can pick from a variety of breeds at a pet shop or even at a rescue organization, responsible breeders specialize in one or two breeds only, so they will not offer a large selection.
  2. Pre-Screen – While “backyard” breeders, as they are often called, will sell puppies to anyone, only interested in making a profit, responsible breeders will only sell to private parties they deem suitable to take proper care of the puppy. These types of places conduct a thorough pre-screening of the individual or family they will be selling to in order to make sure they have the proper skills, lifestyle and home environment that will allow the dog to thrive. Breeders have been known to refuse to sell a puppy when the situation does not serve the best interests of the pet.
  3. Train – While some will typically sell you a dog and send you on your way, a responsible breeder will spend time training you on the best ways to rear your new addition. The individuals who run the facility should be extremely informative and knowledgeable when it comes to everything concerning the specific dog breed. They should be able to tell you in great detail about the typical behavioral and health concerns, and overall traits, the dog is expected to have based on his breed.
  4. Are Knowledgeable About the Individual Dog – Since the breeding facility would have cared for the puppy since birth, the employees will provide documentation about the lineage, genetics, as well as the health of each individual dog.
  5. Must be Willing to Take the Dog Back – The organizations are so invested in the future of the animals, that they would be willing to take them back at any point if the adopted family is no longer willing, or cannot take care of the pets.

How to Find a Responsible Breeder

Now that you know what signs to look for when you are considering purchasing a pet from a breeder, below are tips on locating such facilities:


  1. Referral – The best way to be 100% sure that a breeder you are considering is legit is to ask a knowledgeable source, such as a veterinarian, a certified dog trainer, or check with an all-breed kennel club or at a dog show.
  2. Search Online – There are databases that claim to identify responsible breeders, such as AKC Marketplace, provided by the American Kennel Club, which makes referrals to local clubs whose officers can recommend a trusted breeder. Once you find an option, make sure to ask around and conduct an online search to find out more about the facility.
  3. Visit the Location – Make sure to do a thorough walk-through at the kennel where the pups are held. Check to make sure it is clean, the puppies are given enough room and attention to thrive, and staff seems friendly and knowledgeable.
  4. Ask About Return Policy – As a practice, breeders should allow at least a two-day window to return the puppy if he has health or temperament issues. A year is typically provided for a return if it “is discovered to have a genetically bad disposition or a crippling disease such as hip dysplasia,” states PetMD.

Remember that puppies will be part of your family for upwards of two decades, so it is worthwhile to invest in one that comes from a trusted breeder. Otherwise, poor breeding and rearing conditions can lead to poor health and temperament issues.



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