What's a Good Breeder?

A dog is much more than a dog — it's a member of the family and a best friend for life. That's why we're making it easy to connect with responsible breeders who treat their dogs just as well as you will.

Working with a responsible breeder gives you the best chance for adding a happy, healthy member to your pack because they, too, care for their dogs as family. Their goal is to bring healthy, well-adjusted dogs into the world and to make sure they go to warm and caring homes.

For far too long, puppy mills and disreputable sources have thrived off of well-intentioned people simply not knowing how to spot and avoid them. Even if prospective dog owners know to be on the lookout, they don't always know what to watch out for and may unknowingly end up buying a puppy from an irresponsible source. This not only harms dogs by fueling the broken system, but often results in complications for dog parents such as unexpected health or behavioral issues.

You should always feel confident that the people you’re dealing with have your and your new dog’s best interests at heart. But it can be hard work to separate the good from the bad, especially on the internet. That’s why Good Dog screens every breeder so you can rest assured that your pup is coming from the very best. 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. 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.