What is a Good Breeder?

We’re committed to the health and well-being of dogs — and to your peace of mind.

Getting a dog can be a bit nerve-wracking — and why wouldn’t it be? After all, you’re bringing home a new member of the family. You have to figure out food, walks, training, and veterinary care, not to mention a name.

Nerves aside, though, you should always feel confident that you’re getting a healthy dog, and that the people you’re dealing with have your and your new dog’s best interests at heart. And unfortunately, we’ve heard way too many stories of what happens when that fundamental trust is broken. People who gave up on getting a dog because they couldn’t find a breeder they felt comfortable with. Difficult decisions when a new puppy turned out to have serious problems or need prohibitively expensive medical care.

At Good Dog, our goal is to make sure you connect with people who do everything they can to make sure your dog is healthy, just as you will. Here’s how we do it.

Careful screening to ensure responsible standards

Before they join Good Dog, every breeder we work with has to pass a screening process created by our veterinary and academic experts who you can meet below. Our partnerships team, led by a former lawyer, goes over every breeder’s information carefully.

We focus on understanding each breeder’s knowledge and intentions as well as the health and well-being of their puppies and breeding dogs (the moms and dads). Some of the things we look for include:

  • Is every litter the result of conscientious planning?
  • Are the breeding dogs well taken care of and do they have a clean, comfortable and stimulating environment?
  • Are dogs bred at the appropriate ages (not too young or too old) and at a frequency that is safe for their long term wellbeing?
  • Does the breeder help to rehome their dogs if an unforeseen issue arises with their dog owners to ensure that no dog enters a shelter?

We speak to every breeder by phone to learn about their background, practices and policies. We ask about and verify their primary veterinarian and ensure that they are prioritizing the welfare of their dogs above all else. We ask that a breeder share proof of health testing they conduct, such as DNA test results and OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) numbers. We want to make sure that all litters are the result of consideration for not only known health problems within a breed, but also of the parents’ individual physical, genetic and mental health and lack of hereditary diseases.

Want to know more? Read our Breeder Code of Ethics which details the minimum standard of care we require all breeders to agree to abide by in order to become part of our community.

Transparent practices

The Good Breeder standards are just a starting point. Our breeders love their dogs like family and most we work with far exceed these norms. Every breeder can show off what makes them unique on their profile including the health testing they perform, enrichment and training they provide their puppies and photos of their home or facility. Our goal is to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Direct connections with breeders

Wondering why you can’t seem to get in touch with the people behind that dog-adoption site you found? It might be because they don’t want you to know who they are. The internet has made it all too easy for bad actors — puppy mills, backyard breeders, and scammers — to hide behind stolen photos, faked credentials, and shady middlemen. As a result, great breeders have no way to stand out.

But good breeders have nothing to hide. They love to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with prospective dog parents, and they work hard to make the right match between dogs and people. (Maybe that extra-rambunctious puppy isn’t quite right for you.) So on Good Dog, you’ll always communicate directly with the breeders themselves. We help facilitate the process by providing tools like messaging and waitlist tracking, but we never act as an intermediary or prevent you from talking to breeders directly. We’re here to help create relationships.

Support from leading dog welfare and breeding experts

The Good Dog screening process was created in close consultation with Dr. Brian Greenfield, DVM, and Dr. Candace Croney, PhD, two leading veterinary and academic experts in both animal welfare and dog breeding. We believe in conducting a science-based evaluation of breeding practices, and we’re proud to work with Dr. Croney and Dr. Greenfield to achieve that.

Headshot of Dr. Greenfield

Dr. Brian Greenfield, DVM

Dr. Greenfield is one the nation’s leading experts in canine reproduction, breeding management, and pediatric care. He has seen more reproductive cases than almost anyone in the country and is a sought-after expert in the field. Dr. Greenfield was instrumental in developing Good Dog’s standards and screening procedures, with a focus on ethical reproductive practices, veterinary care, health testing, and breeder policies.

Headshot of Dr. Croney

Dr. Candace Croney, PhD

Dr. Croney is Director at the Center for Animal Welfare Science at Purdue University and a Professor of Animal Behavior and Well-Being. She’s a leading academic expert on the welfare of breeding dogs and their puppies and has published numerous studies on the physical and behavioral health of breeding dogs and puppies. Dr. Croney helped develop Good Dog’s measurement of dog environment, physical health evaluation, socialization, exercise, enrichment and training evaluation.