Buying a Puppy | Why Adopt | Consumer Protection Laws | Shelter List | Responsible Dog Breeding


What is a Responsible Breeder?

We always support and encourage potential dog owners to first look at shelters and rescues for their new best friend. You can ¬†find purebred dogs and even puppies there! And if you are looking for a specific breed, we recommend searching for a “breed specific rescue.” Perform an internet search such as “poodle rescue Iowa.”
But for those who have decided that they want to buy from a breeder, we have some tips on finding a responsible one.
You hear over and over, “don’t buy from a puppy mill”. But how do you know where to go or how to tell if a breeder you’re considering buying from is a responsible breeder?

Here are some things to look for.


  • Pet stores that sell puppies.
  • Breeders who ship their puppies to the buyer’s location or offer to meet the buyer at a meeting place somewhere away from the kennel.
  • Breeders who sell multiple breeds of dogs
  • Breeders who don’t let you see the parents (or at least the mother) in their normal living conditions, or only let you see them at a designated place, like a greeting room that is separate from where the dogs live.
  • Breeders who ask little or no personal questions about your lifestyle and home life.
  • Breeders who breed dogs repeatedly every time they go into heat.
  • Breeders who sell puppies that are 7 weeks old or younger. (They may tell you they are older.)
  • Breeders who sell mixed breed dogs (aka “designer dogs”), like Puggle, Teddy Bear, Yorkipoo, Pekepoo, etc.


  • Responsible breeders never sell their pets through pet stores. 99% of pet stores buy their puppies from puppy mills.
  • Responsible breeders typically don’t ship their puppies.
  • Responsible breeders specialize in 1 or 2 breeds.
  • Responsible breeders have at least the mother at their location and let prospective buyers see her and observe her health and behavior in the place where she normally spends her time.
  • Responsible breeders screen and select homes for their puppies and will turn potential buyers away whose lifestyle, home situation, or level of commitment doesn’t fit the breed. They often ask many questions about you, your family, and your home – such as questions about your daily routine (eg: the hours you work), your yard (fencing, size), your exercise level, etc. – all to determine if the breed of dog will be a good fit for you (and vice versa).
  • Responsible breeders only breed dogs over 2 years of age and only breed the dog a limited number of times – not every year.
  • Responsible breeders perform extensive genetic testing to help reduce the potential for passing on congenital problems such as hip dysplasia. You ought to ask for copies of the test results.
  • Responsible breeders don’t separate the puppies from their mothers until the puppies are at least 8 weeks old.
  • Responsible breeders don’t sell hybrid “designer dogs.” There are, however, some hybrids that are gaining acceptance among reputable hobby breeders. Goldendoodles are one example.