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I’ve worked with a lot of breeders over the past several years, selecting puppies for my clients and for my programs.

I’ve seen some good breeders with fantastic dogs, but I’ve also seen a whole lot of bad.

Especially when it comes to “designer” dogs like goldendoodles (but that’s a whole other story 😉 )

Sadly, most people are breeding solely for the money,

to make a quick buck.

Without much concern about the well-being of the by-products of their actions –

the puppies…

I’ve met my share of respectable breeders who I’m dying to get puppies from again, and quite a few who I think have no business doing what they’re doing.

A puppy should be a life-long commitment, not just something you get on impulse (which most bad breeders are hoping for).

If you’re looking for a fantastic, healthy, predictable, STABLE dog, get it from a good breeder.

Bad breeders produce sub-par dogs with questionable temperaments, questionable health, questionable reliability, and, well, QUESTIONABLE EVERYTHING!

If you’re considering getting a puppy, ask yourself these questions about your breeder:

Are the adult dogs health tested? (OFA, genetic testing, breed-specific issues)

A good breeder isn’t going to be breeding bad stock, for the fear of PRODUCING bad stock!
Adult dogs should be healthy and genetically sound, including (but not limited to) OFA certification/PennHip certified, blood tested in the case of genetic malformations, and fully vaccinated. Healthy dogs produce healthy puppies.

A bad breeder will do the bare minimum to attract buyers.  Luckily, more and more puppy owners are becoming educated about health testing, so bad breeders have been forced to increase their standards.  They still fall very short, though.

GOOD BREEDER: All the bells and whistles

–  OFA certifications for hips, elbows, thyroid, cardiac, and patellas on both parents

–  Genetic testing to root out inheritable diseases, and genetic abnormalities, on both parents

–  Knowledgeable about the specific genetic and physical issues common to their breed.  For example, Golden Retriever breeders pay special attention to eye problems.  German Shepherd breeders look at Hip Displasia.


BAD BREEDER: Only the bare minimum

–  Genetic testing on one or more parents (usually the male dog)

–  OFA clearances on one parent (usually the male dog)

You can learn more about breed-specific health testing recommendations on the AKC page.

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Are the adult dogs well-mannered and well-groomed?

While health testing is important, proper socialization and exposure to adult dogs is crucial!  Puppies raised around stable adult dogs have a HUGE advantage to puppies that are not. Puppies will naturally emulate the bigger dogs and very quickly pick up behaviors – both good and bad – simply through observation! If the momma dog barks or jumps up, odds are the puppies will too.

Good breeders CARE about their dogs and want their dogs to represent the breed they love.  A good breeder will have good-looking, sweet, friendly dogs that make you think “Wow, I want a dog just like this!”

Bad breeders are all about the puppies.  Adult dogs are often under-socialized, dog-reactive, dirty backyard pets.  If you’re lucy, bad breeders will probably let you view the mom behind a fence or through a window, or bring her out just long enough for her to act excited and look friendly.  Usually, though, you’ll see the puppies by themselves.

Good breeders breed dogs they are PROUD of .  Bad breeders breed dogs they can get puppies from.

Where are the puppies raised?

Environment is HUGE when whelping and raising puppies.  Your puppy’s environment can set them up for success or failure in their new homes with you. 

A good breeder will raise their puppies in a clean, sanitary, top-notch area.  Usually good breeders raise their puppies in their homes, around their family where life happens.

Not only are the indoors much cleaner, it also greatly prepares them for their new life with you by exposing them to all the sounds, smells, and sights of a busy home while they’re young.  Puppies that are raised inside around the breeder and their family are often more accepting of new things, don’t startle as much to noises, and are less likely to chew your furniture.

A bad breeder often raise their puppies in the backyard, garage, or basement.  The environment is usually dirty and cluttered and the puppies sleep and eat around their own feces.  A dirty environment will condition your puppy to be okay with living around filth, and will teach them to poop and pee where they sleep and eat.  This leads to crate training nightmares and a puppy that is very difficult to potty train.

A good breeder will set up their raising areas to encourage good behaviors in their puppies.  A bad breeder will set up their area to contain their puppies until they’re ready to go home.


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When picking your next companion, keep in mind your puppy will be with you for the next 15 years.  Take the time to do your research and find the best puppy out there.

And that all starts with a good breeder.