How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder: 12 Questions to Ask Ahead

10 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
September 26, 2022

A woman wearing glasses holds 4 Siberian Husky puppies up to her face in a snuggling motion.

Buying a dog from a trustworthy breeder is a fantastic way to know for certain your puppy came from a loving, nurturing space designed by people who take great pride and care in maintaining a safe, controlled environment to raise puppies. But how do you start the laborious process of finding a dog breeder to check out their available puppies for sale? If you’re searching for the perfect puppy for sale, why not turn to the experts on your selected breed?

Asking a breeder a series of questions will make anyone more at ease about being a puppy parent. But why do all the work yourself, interviewing several breeders until you can't keep them all straight? Let Pawrade do the hard work for you and help you figure out how to find a reputable dog breeder without the hassle! If you’re not sure where to start, here is a list of questions we ask breeders for you so you can focus on how to prepare for a new puppy

Before You Search for a Puppy For Sale

Educate yourself as much as you can about what to expect before bringing home your new puppy. Research your specific breed to see what their personality, disposition, and grooming needs are or if there are common genetic problems worth discussing. In order to avoid any problems after buying your puppy, consider researching how to find a dog breeder with good reviews first. 

By knowing what to expect before you begin looking for a puppy for sale, you can rest assured Pawrade will ask the deeper questions for you.  

Interview yourself

Before you begin looking for a puppy for sale, you need to go beyond choosing the cutest one you see by asking yourself some thorough questions to figure out if you are ready to buy a puppy or how to choose the right dog breed for you. You’ll need to think about your lifestyle, other members of your household, the amount of time or effort you wish to put into exercise and training, the costs of owning the dog and the lifetime commitment, and your daily routine. Whether you are looking for the best dog breeds for first-time puppy owners, the best guard dogs for kids, or the top low-maintenance dog breeds, there’s a puppy out there for everyone!

Pawrade helps you find a puppy for your lifestyle

We at Pawrade help connect vetted breeders with interested puppy buyers. While there is no right or wrong way to answer, the information you share that we pass along to our breeders gives them an idea of what you're looking for in the perfect puppy. In addition to basic contact information, here are questions a dog breeder may ask that we've compiled into one simple form:

  • Why do you or your family want a dog? 
  • Why are you interested in this particular breed? 
  • How many people are in your household? 
  • How many children (if any) live in the house, and what are their ages? 
  • Are there any other pets? If so, what are their types and ages? 
  • Does anyone in your household have allergies? 
  • Do you own or rent the type of property you live in, such as an apartment, condo, townhouse, single or multi-family home, or farm? 
  • Do you have a yard or easy access to the outside? 
  • Have you ever owned a dog before? If so, what kind, and what was your experience like? 
  • What is your lifestyle and activity level like? 
  • Are you or anyone in your household under investigation for any offense related to abuse, animal cruelty, or negligence? 

Asking these questions can help both parties decide if the breed or breeds they offer will be a good fit for your lifestyle for proper, long-lasting puppy placement. 

We Ask These 12 Questions (and More) When Screening Reputable Dog Breeders 

Now that you know a little bit more about why you want a particular breed and if you’re ready to make that leap into puppy ownership, you might want to have an idea of what we at Pawrade look for in a reliable, honest dog breeder. 

1. Why did you choose to work with this particular breed?

Breeders’ eyes will light up when they talk about their babies! Breeders are extremely passionate about their chosen breeds and are fountains of information. This is the time for their enthusiasm and love for the breed to shine. They have devoted their lives to upholding the very best of their breed’s standards and are constantly striving to produce the highest quality puppies. When determining how to find good dog breeders that are responsible and sell dogs ethically, a great sign to look for is the passion for their work with a particular breed. That is one of the many things you can do to see if the person is trustworthy.

2. How do you socialize your puppies? What types of experiences are they exposed to? 

Ethical breeders care deeply about producing well-rounded puppies ready for any situation! They understand how crucial early socialization is to set a solid foundation for your puppy to be a great companion and member of society. Puppies should arrive ready to be playful with people and investigate the world around them. Some examples of socialization and experiences might include:

  • Exposure to regular household noises like vacuums, traffic, children, etc.
  • Being touched all over to prepare for grooming and vet visits
  • Plenty of opportunities to play with littermates, encounter different toys, and explore their surroundings
  • Walking on different surfaces like concrete, grass, carpet, gravel, tile, and wood floors
  • Encounters with other adults, children, and perhaps even other animals like pets or farm animals

Some breeders may have started on some training as well, including early potty training, leash training, and simple commands. If you’re searching for signs of a reputable breeder, dog training should be a part of their process. These breeders will ensure the breed’s unique temperament is channeled into the right activities. 

3. What type of food does the puppy eat?

High-quality nutrition is so important to maintaining proper growth and development for puppies! A trusted breeder knows which formula of different brands works best for their growing litter. You’ll know the parents are well-fed, and the mama receives excellent care to nurse her babies to grow healthy. They can also give you recommendations for solid puppy and adult food and when to make that transition. 

4. How old are the puppies? At what age can I take them home? 

Breeders will be able to tell you the litter’s birthdate and provide the exact age of the puppy for sale you’re considering. There is not a one-date-fits-all point where all puppies will go home. However, a conscientious breeder will know the breed’s specific needs. For example, some puppies are fine to go home on or after 8 weeks, while others will need 12 weeks with the breeder due to size or travel restrictions. 

5. What do the parents look like? What are the parents’ personalities like? 

Seeing what the parents look like and discussing their personalities with the breeder can further help you decide if the breed is the right fit for you. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say, and it’s exciting to learn what inherited personality traits may emerge in your puppy as he or she grows up. It’s also a great way to gauge the future size of your puppy and have a general idea of looks (although genetics can vary). Breeders will also be happy to discuss any questions about the parents’ or the breed’s overall health. 

6. Can I get picture and video updates of my puppy before we meet for the first time?

While each breeder has different policies, most good breeders are happy to provide requested updates with pictures, videos, or conference calls. For dogs that can change coloring quickly, updated pictures can keep you in the loop with what your puppy looks like week to week. It’s fun to have mementos to look back on to see how much your puppy has grown!

7. Can I meet the puppies and parents on-site? 

While new puppy parents may be tempted to drive up to a breeder’s kennel or home, Pawrade breeders do not offer in-person meet-and-greets or pick-ups for a few reasons.

Deadly viruses, bacteria, and parasites entering a property can devastate an entire litter of pups. In addition, the recent pandemic has caused policy changes where breeders have reduced or eliminated direct contact with visitors to places of their business or personal homes. Furthermore, the rise of “dognapping” means criminals can steal entire litters of puppies. 

Because of the potential personal, business, and health risks to the breeder, their family, and their puppies, meeting in a public, convenient location or selecting a transport service are the best ways to meet your puppy. 

8. When do I need to take my puppy to the vet after we get home?

Proper veterinarian care is crucial to the health of your puppy! You should take your new puppy to your chosen veterinarian within 72 hours of arrival for a well-check visit. Puppies should arrive completely up to date on vaccinations and deworming, so you will not need to worry about getting any shots done until it’s time for the next recommended round. 

9. How can I get my puppy after I buy it? 

Parents meeting their puppies after the sale is final will usually have a choice of several convenient travel options. One is by local pickup, where a breeder will meet in a predetermined location. Another service they may offer is a variety of ground shipping options – Pawrade has even started up our own fleet of customized puppy transport vans to assist in puppy deliveries. Air transportation may include a flight nanny to accompany your puppy for an airport pick-up. Regardless of the meeting method, Pawrade arranges the best way for you to meet your dog while keeping the puppy secure. 

10. Can you provide a Health Guarantee and a Health Certificate? What other paperwork comes with a puppy?

Puppies from conscientious breeders will come with a variety of paperwork with the most important papers including a certificate of sale, a health guarantee, a health certificate, and a certificate of sale. Quality breeders are happy to supply documents because they stand behind the quality of their puppies. When figuring out how to find a reputable dog breeder, ensuring the dogs have proper certification is essential.

Health Guarantee

The health of your puppy is just as important to you as it is to your breeder. You never have to worry when asking one of the most important questions when buying a puppy from a breeder. It is imperative you understand the health benefits and health guarantees the dog breeder is willing to abide by. Every puppy through Pawrade comes with a comprehensive Health Guarantee

Our health guarantee outlines ways in which a puppy is covered against certain health events, stipulations regarding buyer obligations that need to be met such as spay/neuter and health care needs, and items not covered in the agreement. On top of that, the secure payment platform PetPay upholds that both the buyer and breeder abide by their obligations to ensure the health guarantees within the contract are met. 

Health Certificate

A health certificate shows proper documentation of all vet visits, any vaccines and dewormings the puppy has received with dates and any veterinarian notes, results of recent fecal tests, and outlines any health conditions that are treatable that would not impact a sale. 

Certificate of Sale

A certificate of sale proves the puppy belongs to you and protects both the breeder and you from any issues that may arise regarding puppy ownership. Think of it as a very detailed receipt. 

Other paperwork

A breeder may also present a contract, any registration papers if applicable, a breed information pack, puppy care instructions, food or supplement samples, and maybe a leash, collar, toy, or item with mom’s scent to make the transition easier. 

11. Does the puppy have breeding rights or is it a pet-only sale?

Most breeders that work with Pawrade will offer pet-only registrations for their puppies. However, there are some breeders who do offer full registration for an additional fee. Some breeders have strict criteria for spaying or neutering early or waiting until one heat cycle/year of age for large-breed dogs, so it’s important to ask the right questions for registration guidelines. They can also advise you on which registration clubs are best for your breed.

12. How can I be sure this is not a puppy scam or a puppy mill? 

When you buy a puppy for sale through us at Pawrade, you can rest assured that we’ve put our expertise and experience to work in finding legitimate breeders. We’ll earn your trust through communication, transparency, and eliminating any doubt about the unknowns that come with trying to find a breeder yourself. A big part of learning how to find a reputable dog breeder comes down to experience, which we have years of. We are committed to finding and making sure we’re working with the best breeders in the country.

We actively fight against puppy scams and help stop puppy mill sales with our thorough breeder screening, knowledgeable Puppy Concierges to walk you through every step of the puppy buying process, and secure payment methods and transactions through the PetPay platform.

Get Your Puppy Buying Questions Answered with Pawrade

We understand just how difficult it is to find a legitimate breeder, so we've put our experience and expertise to work for you! We hand-select and pre-screen the breeders we invite to join our program to take the work out of vetting each breeder yourself. You can trust us to match you with a trustworthy, knowledgeable breeder who loves your puppy just as much as you do!

Through our process, you can rest assured that we’ve done the hard work of finding quality breeders with happy, healthy puppies ready to be adopted. We firmly believe in building a relationship between you and your breeder, and we track and record all communications to ensure a safe and smooth transaction. With every puppy we offer backed with our comprehensive health guarantee, you can be confident a happy, healthy puppy is headed your way! 

Take your time to browse our available puppies for sale. Feel free to call us, email us, text message us, you name it – we are here to help you figure out how to find a reputable dog breeder based on your needs.


Lucy Hughes profile picture

Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

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