What is the Best Source of Puppies?


In last week’s blog post, I mentioned that puppies have no place being advertised on Craigslist or Facebook. Advertising one’s puppies for sale – oh, excuse me, I mean “for a rehoming fee” (give me a BREAK) – in these online forums is tantamount to telling the world you are a backyard breeder who will sell a puppy to anyone, anytime. Anyone who knows what they are doing wouldn’t ever buy a puppy advertised in this way.

That said, some breeders might belong to breed-rescue groups and breed-enthusiast groups who * are * on Facebook, and who * do * advertise on Craigslist. The difference is, they won’t be trying to sell puppies there, but are trying to connect with other people who admire their breed. They may promote an adult rescue dog on a page like that, or announce that a rescued litter is soon to become available to qualified applicants, but absolutely no legitimate rescue would offer to sell puppies to just anyone!

litter of black puppies

Responsible breeders are more concerned about placing their puppies in the right home, where they will thrive and be a blessing to their new families, than they are with making money. If it’s not a little bit difficult to find someone to sell you a puppy – to prove you are up to their standards – then you probably don’t want that puppy. Puppies bred specifically for sale, like produce, with the goal of bringing income to a family – you don’t want that puppy!

Why? Because profit-driven breeders are more interested in making a living than they are with making sure that the animals they produce are sound, healthy, and well-adjusted individuals that will bring joy and love to your home. They really don’t care if the puppies end up euthanized due to health or behavior problems before their first birthday. They don’t care if the dog turned out to be deaf or carries the genes for inherited conditions that will kill the dog before its fifth birthday. Profit-driven breeders have one goal: to improve their bottom line. The fact that their profits come at the expense of the mother dogs (for sure) and the puppies who are placed with anyone who can pony up the purchase price is of no concern to them.

Also, when you support profit-motivated breeders, you support the overproduction of unwanted dogs, the misery of the overworked mother dogs, and the suffering of surplus dogs. When you pay someone on Craigslist a “rehoming fee” for a pup from their “accidental litter,” you have provided a strong disincentive for that person to get the mother dog spayed. If the person who owns the mother dog can’t sell the “accidental puppies,” there is a far greater chance that pups will end up surrenders to a local shelter, where the law requires them to be vaccinated and neutered before they can be sold to the public. And at least THAT crop of “accidental puppies” won’t contribute to more and ever-more “accidental puppies” being born.

In contrast are responsible breeders. How do you identify a responsible breeder? Here is the hallmark: A responsible breeder has a written contract that states that if, for any reason whatsoever, you don’t like the puppy you buy or can’t keep the dog that puppy has grown into, the breeder will take the pup or dog back, without hesitation. In fact, the contract should insist that if you can’t keep the dog for any reason, you may not find another home for the dog, but must return the dog to the breeder. Good breeders don’t want their dogs to end up just anywhere. A truly responsible breeder will keep a list of people who want a dog from her stock, help a dog or puppy get past whatever led to his not fitting into his first family, and find another perfect home for him – or commit to keeping him forever.

How can you FIND a responsible breeder? Use Google. Look for breeders, check out their websites, call them up and ask them questions. Go to dog shows and/or performance events and ask everyone who has a dog of the breed you are interested in who you should talk to about puppies of that breed. Look up local breed-enthusiast groups and breed-rescue groups and ask everyone about the best way to get a puppy. Look for people who are super fussy about who they might consider placing a puppy or adult rescue dog with.

We have some great articles about how to find responsible breeders, and some articles that offer guidance on choosing the best dog or pup for your family:

A Field Guide to Ethical Breeders

Successful Dog Adoption, Part 1: Develop an Adoption Criteria

Successful Dog Adoption, Part 2: What To Do at the Shelter

What’s The Best Source for Purebred Dogs?

It’s true that there are far fewer responsible breeders or legitimate rescue groups who have puppies than there are families who want puppies. To which I say, TOUGH.

I understand that it is frustrating to have to WAIT to find a puppy to add to your family, especially in this day of being able to use the Internet to order a left-handed widget in red, not blue, and have it delivered to your home the next day. I understand that it would be nice to get that Poodle in apricot (your favorite color) and a female (because you grew up with a female Poodle), and between 8 and 12 weeks right at the beginning of your kids’ summer vacation (when the nanny will be available to help potty-train the pup before the kids go back to school in the fall) and I understand that you could probably find and pay for a dog that purportedly meets that description on the Internet right this minute. But PLEASE DO NOT.


  1. My wife and I are looking to get a dog. Now we want to go with a puppy since it would be like having a kid. We’ll take your advice and look for a responsible breeder as I wouldn’t want it any other way.

  2. Although a great article – it is, however, just a bit black and white thinking – either/or: either ‘for the money’ or ‘for the dog’. I always think these types of articles are written by rescue groups (who want you to spend $100s of dollars for an abandoned dog/pup) or a ‘professional’ breeder (who wants you to spend $1000s of dollars for their ‘choice’ pups – and don’t want the competition from those in between. But don’t believe for a minute, that they don’t appreciate the money they make – have any of them sent it all to a rescue group?!). There are those in between that have spent as much money to deliver a successful litter as the pro – those that only breed healthy, good tempermented parents, and only have two or three litters during the females lifetime – in their homes, amongst family and friends. The only difference between them is the cost of the puppy and the stringent criteria for ownership – and there in lies the problem – whether the pros admit it or not. Not everyone ‘does not have a day job or someone is home at all times; has a fenced yard, never leaves their puppy for more than a few hours’…the list is endless – some contracts are so stringent I’m amazed they can even sell all their pups in 8 weeks. One even called my boss to see if I was worthy – I was, but it sure was a big laugh for everyone in the office! So what is a person to do if they either do not have $1000s of dollars for a pup (and guess what – they don’t come with an old age guarantee either) or have the ‘perfect’ (by your standards) lifestyle? There has to be a place for well-bred, registered puppies that are moderately priced: although we all would like a new Lexus, some of us can only afford a new Kia – and, you know what, that doesn’t make us inferior car owners, with no pride of ownership – nor does it imply that the Lexus owner will never need to bring their car to get repairs done – anymore or any less than the Kia owner. Lest you judge – yes, I have successfully shown dogs and yes, I’ve also purchased dogs from ‘in between’ breeders – and one from a ‘backyard’ breeder. In the end, all are dogs – none were superior, none were inferior; all were healthy and all were very loving – I think that’s all we really want when we purchase a dog. We should all be permitted to purchase our dogs any where we want – and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty of our choices by folks who write articles with an agenda to perpetuate.

    • It is written in a pretty black and white tone, and pretty strongly worded. A lot of people trying to advocate their opinion use this method. But in this case I think it’s a “better safe than sorry” mentality on the part of the author. Personally I think that’s always a good mentality with animals.

      Someone who’s out looking to “just get a puppy right now” and is made to feel bad and look for one of those kennel club recognized breeders could just as easily take away the message that “Hey, wow. I didn’t know that people would actually do that. I know that these breeders are putting in the effort to do right by their dogs, but I just can’t afford that. So I’ll put work into making sure that whoever I get my puppy from is treating their dogs right.”

      I think that that’s a better message to send in theory, but let’s be real here. That would encourage breeders with poor ethics to try to make themselves appear to be putting their dogs first. Worst case scenario for the reader they feel bad and go to a breeder, or they take it upon themselves to look at the breeding conditions of the person they’re buying a puppy from. If the reader is somebody who can’t really afford breeder prices, but waits a while to save that money up anyway, that is a way more humane loss than if they ended up going to a poor breeder.

      However if this isn’t a message that’s been sent out, the worst case scenario there is that many more people are going to these breeders who are pumping puppies out of their dogs without concern for the breeding dog’s health and just pocketing the money. Which I think is overall a much worse thing to happen than making some people feel guilty.

      As a middle ground though, I do think that there should be some sort of public run forum for breeders who take the time at home and do put that love and energy into their dogs. It should be somewhere that potential buyers can track a breeder’s previous litters (ex. “huh, these puppies are Angel’s 7th litter, that doesn’t seem healthy…..”) they can see the living condition of the breeder’s dogs and so forth, etc. Breeders can post their standards for somebody who is adopting. Making sure that they can see pictures of the living conditions and such that they’ll be sending their puppies to and so on. Asking for a reference is a simple thing that nobody who doesn’t have anything to hide would have a problem with. Buyers who neglect or mistreat their dogs do happen. They’re not the majority but they are there.

      To every pet parent the good of the animals should come first, and a system like this can help breeders make sure they’re sending puppies to good homes, and help parents make sure that they’re giving money to breeders who will, in the future, be giving their dogs good lives and helping connect puppies to families who are concerned with their new friend’s wellbeing. Because they don’t have a voice, but we do. And it’s the responsibility of all of us to do our best to reduce the number of animals with miserable lives.

      There’s no agenda being pushed I don’t think, so much as educating as many people as possible that even in this “industry” bad people still exist. And making sure in whatever way they can that more people stop to think about what kind of breeder they’d rather be giving their money to.

  3. It isn’t WHERE you look to buy it is about who. Scams are everywhere amd a sucker is born everyday. If more legit breeders and rescues advertise in EVERY forum the puppy finder looks, less chance to be scammed and more opportunities to educate.

  4. I am proud to be a responsible back yard breeder! I only have a couple of litters a year and all my dogs sleep with me in my bed. You act like those with fancy websites are the only “responsible” breeders out there which is ridiculous. I take excellent care of my dogs and puppies. Just because you charge a lot of money doesn’t make those pups better trust me I bought from one of those breeders and she ended up with an underbite so I couldn’t breed her. Its isn’t just about the money its about getting quality pups to people that couldn’t afford those ridiculous prices fancy breeders charge.

  5. I agree with Trisha I’m also a great backyard breeder I prefer home raised Breeder my dogs sleep with me in my bed they are breed to standard i don’t breed just anything I don’t charge too cheap or too expensive I’m in the middle providing high quality family Shih Tzus to mostly family and friends

  6. I have to say that if a reasonable breed cared about where any of the puppies went wouldn’t charge up the waz zoo for a single puppy! I’ve been looking into getting a French Bulldog puppy but every single breeder I’ve found changed between $2500 and $4500 that to me is not a breeder wanting good homes that is a breeder out for the all mighty dollar! I’m having a very hard time finding a puppy. Mix breeds are even bein sold for $500 – $800 bucks witch is insane and totally uncalled for unfair. If breeders care more about the well-being of the puppy instead of the money maybe more people like me would be able to give a puppy an amazing home. You can’t even go to a shelter an get a puppy/dog for a reasonable price. If they didn’t charge $500 -$800 for an adoption fee more rescued dogs would find homes an not be murdered! It’s simple facts people. Stop caring about the money and care about the animal

  7. You can get a puppy, kitten, dog, or cat at a animal rescue or a shelter. These animals need homes and will also sleep with you. You can even get pure breed animals if that is what you are interested in. Save a life, don’t fund someone’s pocket book.