The Reputable Breeder Checklist

The Reputable Breeder Checklist

  • Contact kennel clubs and breed registries in your area to locate reputable breeders. Veterinarians, training schools, groomers and pet supply outlets are also fantastic contacts to source ethical breeders. In addition, research publications that target specific breeds for further insight
  • Reputable breeders will be registered with an authorised breeding organisation such as:
    • The Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA)
    • South African Canine Breed Registry (SACBR)
    • National Dog Breeders Council of South Africa (NDBC)
    • CanineSA
    • Breed-specific registries: Various breeds have registries that are exclusive to the breed concerned and are managed by breed societies.
  • Be sure to check their papers and credentials.
  • Ask to see the parents of the litter. The male, however, may often be off-site
  • Determine the temperament of both parents
  • Ask if the parents are shown competitively and establish the parents’ titles
  • Insist on seeing the pedigrees of both parents
  • A reputable breeder should show and explain the pedigree of the puppy to you. The explanation should include the bloodlines used as well as the desired qualities they wished to accomplish
  • Ensure the kennels are in a hygienic condition
  • Ensure a clean and safe environment for the pups is maintained
  • Establish whether the dogs are happy and healthy
  • Enquire about how much time the dogs spend in the kennel
  • Ensure that outdoor kennels lead to a climate-controlled area
  • Determine if the breeder interacts with the dogs both in and out of the kennel
  • Enquire about where the puppies were/are being raised on the premises – were they left outside and exposed to the harsh elements of nature or were they socialised and comforted by being allowed into the breeder’s home
  • Determine what breed clubs the breeder is involved in
  • A reputable breeder will be open about both the positive as well as the negative traits of the breed in question
  • Enquire about the genetic diseases or congenital defects that may affect the breed
  • Ensure the breeder takes steps to reduce the risk of common defects in their line Reputable breeders pre-screen both parents for genetic defects. Backyard breeders usually state that the puppy has been “checked over” by a vet but this is no guarantee of the puppy’s health. Genetic testing is a sure way to determine the health of a puppy and reputable breeders will invest in this method
  • Most reputable breeders provide a health guarantee for the puppy. If a disorder arises that is covered in the guarantee, a responsible breeder will act responsibly, by either providing a new puppy, a refund, or by helping the new owner with the problem
  • Insist on seeing (and making copies of) the paperwork for the parents’ tests on thyroid, hips, eyes and the like
  • Question the inoculations the puppies have had. If the answer is negative, ensure the puppies will have their first set of shots by the time they are homed
  • Insist on seeing (and making copies of) all paperwork from the breeder’s vet
  • Insist on having your own vet examination before committing to adopting the puppy
  • Research the guarantee and the contract
  • Insist on seeing (and making a copy of) the contract
  • Ensure the breeder runs through all the contract details
  • If the puppy develops a genetic disorder, ensure the contract includes terms and conditions that protect you in this instance
  • If the puppy dies or must be euthanized due to illness or disease, ensure the contract includes terms and conditions that protect you in this instance
  • Determine if there is a clause in the contract that covers the spay or neutering of the puppy
  • Many reputable breeders require a contract in which the buyer agrees to spay or neuter the puppy so to alleviate any chances of backyard breeding thus negatively affecting the breed
  • Ensure the breeder is able to explain in detail, the process, guidelines and requirements to follow if you decide to breed your dog in the future
  • If you are, for some reason, unable to keep the dog, the breeder should accept the puppy, or full-grown dog back
  • Request the names and contact numbers of the breeder’s previous puppy buyers and other references
  • Enquire about the number of litters the breeder produces annually and how many litters are currently on the premises. A reputable breeder will only produce as many litters as he can keep healthy, well socialised and happy
  • Enquire about what socialisation the puppies have had with humans, children and other dogs and animals. If they are younger than a month old, determine the breeder’s socialisation plans for the puppy going forward
  • Ask the breeder if they still communicate regularly with their previous buyers and if so, will they do so with you too? Reputable breeders should be aiming to improve the bloodline of the breed, so they will want to keep in touch with you to help regulate if there are no defects or temperament problems in the dog
  • Ask the breeder how long they have been breeding this breed for
  • Enquire about any other breeds they may have worked with
  • Determine how old the puppies will be at the time of placement. A reputable breeder will usually only allow the puppies to separate from their mother no earlier than 8 – 10 weeks old
  • Confirm that you can contact the breeder with any concerns and queries once the puppy has been homed with you
  • Ensure the breeder will inform you if any of the other puppies in the litter develop unexpected temperaments or disorders. Ensure the contract includes terms and conditions that protect you in this instance.
  • Take stock of the quality and amount of dog supplies and equipment on the premises. Reputable breeders will usually invest in puppy pens, whelping beds, crates, grooming supplies as well as high quality food
  • Insist on seeing the kennels. Reputable breeders will be more than happy to show you around the premises and give you a thorough explanation of the breeding process
  • Ensure the breeder knows the personality of each puppy and can identify each of the puppies’ traits and temperaments. They should have a progress report of each puppy from birth. In this way, the breeder can efficiently match a puppy to a buyer
  • A reputable breeder will also be able to distinguish between which dogs have the greatest potential for shows and those which will make better pets
  • Be cautious of breeders who charge significantly more for puppies with show potential than other breeders. Although show puppies are slightly more expensive, the price difference should not be substantial
  • Take heed of breeders who charge different prices for male and female dogs or who charge extra for a pedigree or a registration

Remember that a reputable breeder should be your greatest source of information, advice, and support. They should take long term responsibility of each litter they produce and support their buyers in any way, usually without expecting payment.


Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson


Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.