Searching Online for a Dog?

Unless you're searching a well-regarded site like Petfinder.org, buyer beware!
By Julia Lane, January 2009, Updated June 2021

Thanks to free Web site builders like SynthaSite and Homestead, puppy mills can easily project a responsible breeder image. Unless you're searching a well-regarded site like Petfinder, buyer beware! So how can you tell the difference? The HSUS compiled a breeder checklist that you can download and refer to while researching breeders.

    Here are some additional red flags:
  • multiple litters available for sale
  • multiple breeds available for sale
  • boast "rare" sizes (mini version of a standard larger breed) or colors ("blue" Labs)
  • discourage visitors to the kennel
  • cannot provide credible proof of pedigree
  • cannot provide credible proof of sire and dam health clearances

 

    In my experience, most responsible breeders:
  • require an interview, application and contract
  • encourage spay/neuter of your puppy
  • welcome visitors
  • proof of pedigree
  • proof of health clearances for sire, dam and litter
  • belong to a reputable breed registry, like AKC or UKC
  • belong to a reputable breed parent club, like the Dalmatian Club of America or Catahoula Owners, Breeders & Research Association
  • show their dogs in conformation, obedience, agility, etc.

If you're considering a purebred from a breed rescue, be sure to read "Check Out That Rescue Group!" first. As a long-time rescue volunteer, it's heartbreaking to know that there are not only unethical breeders, but unethical so-called "rescuers" who are just interested in using unwanted dogs to make money. Do your research, ask questions and take your time making this very important decision.

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Julia Lane owns Spot On K9 Sports, a training facility in the Chicago area, and offers online dog-sport coaching. She is the author of several travel books, and her byline has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers and elsewhere.