One of the most important choices you’ll face when becoming a dog owner is where to get your new puppy. Working with a responsible breeder can lead to a lifetime of happiness with your dog, while cutting corners or getting tricked by unethical sources may result in years of complications, like serious behavioral issues or health problems and sky-high medical bills.
A responsible breeder gives you the best chance for adding a happy, healthy member to your family because they, too, care for their dogs like family. Their goal is to bring healthy, well-adjusted dogs into the world and to make sure they go to warm and caring homes. It starts even before the actual breeding, when breeders make sure that the parent dogs are strong, healthy, and have characteristics that should be passed along to the next generation of puppies.
There isn't a singular blueprint to determine a Good Breeder. Ethical and unethical programs come in all kinds of sizes and prices. The only marker of a reputable breeder is quality of care. Each family may prioritize different things and have different aspects of a breeder they care most about. It’s our hope that Good Dog's full and transparent presentation of each breeder and their practices will allow you to understand the big picture and choose a breeder that is right for you.
Unfortunately, spotting a responsible breeder can be difficult without the right knowledge and experience. That’s why we’ve worked with leading veterinary, academic and breeding experts to create a set of standards that we use to evaluate all breeders before recognizing them as a Good Breeder and listing them on Good Dog. We’ve outlined below what it means to be a Good Breeder, but we also want to encourage everyone looking for a dog to feel comfortable asking breeders questions directly as well.
The process of finding the right dog and breeder can be a long and arduous journey. You should feel empowered to ask all kinds of questions to every breeder you speak with. Most reputable breeders will be thrilled to talk at length and answer any kinds of questions you have about their program or their dogs. Inquire about specific health issues and testing for the breed you’re looking into getting, temperament, training, socialization, and enrichment. Each person will have different needs and prioritize different attributes of a breeder so it’s key to ask questions to determine if you’re working with a breeder that is the right fit for you and your lifestyle. We’ll also be here every step of the way to help you know what questions to ask, understand the answers, and make the best decision for you.
Every breeder on Good Dog is individually screened and recognized for responsible breeding practices. Before being approved to join Good Dog, we evaluate each breeding program to assess compliance with our community standards. We assess breeding programs in five key areas – (1) breeding practices, (2) physical health of the breeding dogs & puppies, (3) mental health of the breeding dogs & puppies, (4) housing environment, and (5) buyer education & policies. Every breeder approved to join Good Dog must agree to comply with our community standards, including our breed-specific health testing requirements, and our breeder code of ethics.
We award Good Dog health testing levels (Good, Great, or Excellent) to each breeding program based on breeders’ self-reported health testing practices. In addition, we award health testing badges at the individual breeding dog level (i.e., sires and dams). Breeders will receive a health testing badge for each sire and dam when they provide verifiable health testing information for those individual breeding dogs. As part of our dedication to building a transparent and honest community of Good Breeders committed to the health and well-being of their dogs, breeders can provide links on their Good Dog profiles to the health testing information for each of their dogs.
We make sure that breeders don't just have their hearts in the right place but are also well-versed in the right practices around vet care and socialization. Good Breeders are committed to learning and improving so they constantly educate themselves on new and better practices when it comes to health testing. They prioritize their dogs above all else.
The breeders on Good Dog are committed to keeping their dogs out of the shelter system. For this reason, breeders spend a great deal of time making sure each dog is a good fit for their new owner. Should anything come up, Good Dog requires that breeders take back their dogs and rehome them if needed. Responsible breeders thoroughly vet the homes their dogs will be going to and they’ll always take one of their dogs back if an issue or an emergency arises.
The goal of every reputable breeding program is to put the emotional and physical health of their dogs above all else. The adult dogs and puppies in each program receive the very best care. From 3 weeks to 13 weeks, puppies go through a crucial socialization period. During the early portion of this period, breeders gently expose their puppies to all kinds of people, animals, noises, and environments to make sure they're behaviorally and emotionally healthy when they head to their new homes. Then breeder guide their owners to complete their pup’s development through age-appropriate socialization.
The breeders on Good Dog treat their dogs like family and take pride in giving them the very best care. Their programs are designed to nurture their puppies in every way — this includes socialization and enrichment that begins at a very young age so they're fully prepared to enter their new homes. Each breeder takes the extra step to match their puppy with a family who will be a good fit. This ensures that the puppy and their new owners will be able to get along in both lifestyle and temperament and sets them up for success from the beginning.
Read more about our community standards and screening
Read our full Good Breeder Code of Ethics