brown and white bulldog puppy

Maybe you’ve scoured the shelters and rescues in search of a particular breed and come up empty. Or maybe you grew up with a special breed in your home and now as an adult, you just can’t imagine life with anything else. Or maybe you want to compete with your purebred pet in the show ring.

If your heart is set on a special breed of pet, your next step should be to find a reputable breeder. Never buy a pet through a pet store, online and/or by other questionable outlets. Keep these tips in mind when interviewing a breeder for your next pet. A reputable breeder:

1. Keeps pets as cherished family members – pets should be inside, not confined to crates or overcrowded in pens, and not kept outdoors.

2. Invites you to tour the area where their pets spend their time. The areas should be clean and well-maintained.

3. Is meeting pets’ physical and psychological needs through socialization, exercise and enrichment. Pets appear happy, healthy and clean and don’t shy away from visitors. Breeders should be able to describe to you the process they use to socialize their puppies or kittens (the process by which pets learn to be a part of our world through early and gradual exposure to different types of people, environments, buildings, sights, noises, smells, and other animals).

4. Lets you spend time with the parents of the litter (or at a minimum, the mother), and encourages multiple visits with your family to meet the babies.

5. Works with one or two breeds and is highly knowledgeable about the breed standard – including size, coat, color and temperament. The breeder should be able to speak to any typical medical conditions that could occur over the lifetime of the pet.

6. Has a strong relationship with their veterinarian and willingly shows you records of the medical care that has been provided for the litter.

7. Provides documentation indicating that they have screened the pet’s parents and grandparents for common health problems within the breed. Reputable breeders will spay/neuter at the first sign of problems so that they can prevent passing on health defects.

8. Shares references from other families who they have worked with.

9. Never sells to unknown buyers over the internet.

10. Doesn’t always have puppies available but may keep a list of interested people for the next litter or refer people to other responsible breeders. Reputable breeders let female pets “rest” between litters because constant breeding will ultimately harm both the mother and litter.

11. Wants to maintain the integrity and quality of the bloodlines of their animals. The breeder will provide a written contract and health guarantee. You may be required to spay/neuter your pet within a specific period of time, and provide proof that you have honored the agreement.