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Reputable Breeder Information

Avoid Obtaining Puppies from Pet Stores 

Not all pet stores sell puppies and kittens, but you should be careful about the ones that do. Consider the source of the animals sold at these facilities. Reputable breeders do not sell their animals to pet stores.

In order to make a hefty profit, many pet stores obtain puppies for the lowest possible cost. This often means that pet stores get their inventory of animals from puppy mills. Puppies from puppy mills are sold cheaply to animal brokers and pet stores and then the store sells them to customers at much higher prices. Pet store prices can actually be substantially higher than a reputable breeder's, and pet stores will not be able to provide you with information regarding animal's temperament, health, or background. For this reason, it is best to obtain puppies from reputable breeders or adopt them from a good rescue group or animal shelter. For more information about puppy mills, click here.

Research Your Source

If you choose to obtain your dog through a breeder, familiarize yourself with his or her qualifications to make ensure that he or she is reputable. Responsible breeders try to improve the breed. Other breeders, often called backyard breeders or puppy millers, may act irresponsibly to maximize financial profits at the detriment of the dog, the breed and your pocketbook.

If the breeder is not knowledgeable about the dogs and specific breeds he or she is selling, something is wrong. Reputable breeders know a lot about the animals they work with, and they provide references from satisfied clients.

Questions to Ask a Dog Breeder:

  • How long has the breeder been in business at the same location? Make sure they are not a fly-by-night operation.
  • Does the breeder have references you can contact?
  • How many types of dogs do they breed? Most reputable breeders only work with one or two breeds.
  • What are common health issues or concerns associated with the breed?
  • Does the breeder offer a written guarantee to provide a full refund of the price if the dog is later determined to have a serious preexisting medical condition or temperament problems?

Here are some tips to help you find a healthy companion animal:

  • Age: We recommend that puppies stay with their mothers and littermates until they are at least 8 weeks old. An early separation can cause lifelong behavior problems. Verify the puppy's age.
  • Proper socialization: Puppies should be friendly, not excessively shy or aggressive. If they've been well-cared for and around kind and loving people, they will most likely be very friendly and playful.
  • Vaccination records: By 8 weeks of age a puppy should have gotten one distemper combination vaccine, including a parvo preventative. He or she should also receive booster shots at 3 to 4 week intervals. Ask if the puppy has been de-wormed.
  • Has a veterinarian checked the puppy? Get a written and signed statement from the breeder's veterinarian indicating that the animal has received an exam. Ask for the name of the vet and call for verification. Reputable breeders do genetic testing of parent dogs to avoid passing on problems. Make an appointment with your own veterinarian for the day you pick up the puppy, or soon thereafter.
  • Nutrition: Ask to see what the breeder is feeding the dogs. Most good breeders will give you a few days' supply of dog food for you to take home and help your puppy's digestive system adapt.
  • Always ask to see the mother. If the dog you are obtaining is eight weeks old or younger, you should still see enlarged mammary glands as evidence that the mother was lactating. Be careful. Many backyard breeders will show you a pretty female dog and say it's the dam (mother), even though the dog has never had a litter.

Responsible, reputable breeders are knowledgeable and willing to share with you information about training your puppy. Responsible breeders will also interview prospective clients and ask to meet the whole family. They want to make sure the temperament of the puppy matches the personality and lifestyle of the family. Responsible breeders also encourage or require clients to spay or neuter their puppy. The dogs on their property are friendly, socialized and trained.


You can also adopt a purebred dog from a local or national rescue group. If you choose to adopt a companion animal from the Wisconsin Humane Society, either a mixed-breed or a purebred, there are many benefits included. All animals are spayed or neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, and provided with other veterinary services. Our knowledgeable adoption counselors will assist you in selecting a dog who will be a fit with your lifestyle.

Animal behavior seminars, informational brochures, behavior telephone counseling and tip lines are available at the Wisconsin Humane Society. We have a retail store and help people select animal care products to support their new pet in their home. Finally, knowing that you are giving a very deserving and wonderful animal a second chance increases the joy of adding a new member to your family.

Click here to see some of the wonderful animals available for adoption at the Wisconsin Humane Society.