You would THINK with all the technology today, it would be easier than ever to find a quality Breeder. WRONG!! Things sure are different than when I first started out looking for Labradors. For starters, the internet was not born yet so it was a matter of talking to many people and getting referrals.
Unfortunately when the Internet came along it opened up a avenue of Good, bad, ugly and really HORRIFIC breeders to advertise their litters! The Internet can be a great tool for researching many things but when it comes to finding a reputable breeder...it can be your worst nightmare! Ads upon ads and websites upon websites, over and over! The average person looking for a companion puppy gets lost in the maze of the "misinformation highway" Who to trust? This site looks good! Ooh wait, they have 5 different breeds! Well here is one, they have 8 litters ready to go! What about this one? "It say's Pampered Pets R Us" Before rushing into any commitment, please read the info below. These are some general UPDATED basic guidelines.
FIRST RULE OF ORDER:
Shy away from from the "PuppyForSale" internet sites that list multiple breed puppy sales such as "Puppyfind.com", "Petfinder.com" "nextdaypets" and "breeders.net". You know the site where you click on a drop down menu to "select the breed you are looking for". Then up pops 50 different listings of puppies from different kennels or individuals. WHY? These sites are used frequently by puppy millers, dog brokers and in general poor quality breeders with poor quality animals. It is known fact that they "bait/switch". What is bait/switch? They bait their ad's with pictures of lovely puppies and/or dogs that ARE NOT the animal for sale and in most cases not even of an animal they own! Many steal pictures from reputable breeders sites of darling pups and adults and place those pictures on their ad. Then when someone makes a purchase, they are sent a dog that is the same breed/color and sex but clearly NOT the one pictured! I have had MY dogs and puppies pictures stolen on MANY occasions. I have even had these people say they have a litter sired by one of our Champion stud dogs with a direct link back to my studs page! They are dishonest. So best to avoid at all cost!
Now, let's say you type in "Labrador Breeders in Tennessee" or "Georgia" or "Florida". What frequently pops up (for ANY state) is a website called "Labradorbreeders(insert state here).com OR (State)Labradorbreeders.net OR Purebredbreeder.com, etc These are DOG BROKER SITES. What is a dog broker? A dog broker is someone who finds buyers (acts as a second party) for pups produced from puppy mills and bad breeders. These online sites are jammed packed full of poorly bred pups, highly over-priced and in most cases they are known to use the same pictures to advertise hundreds of pups of the same color/sex/breed in different states. They mislead you into thinking the puppy is located in your state. Only to later find out it was shipped in to you from five states away. Forget about warranties, forget about dealing with the breeder. By the time you get that puppy, he or she has changed hands several times and is exposed to many different pups that the broker hauls around. Not a good risk to take!
Pet Stores, Auctions and Flea Markets. No doubt you have heard the stories of "Never purchase from a pet store as they are all puppy mill bred puppies". IT IS TRUE! By the time they get to the store, they have been transformed from a feces/urine/flea infested rag into the cutest puppy ever. Marked up TEN times of what a pup from a reputable breeder would charge. Sickly, raised in cages, filth and more. Flea Markets are full of Amish Puppy mill pups. They are deplorable!!! Auctions are used for those pups a breeder CAN'T find a home for. Don't fall victim to these people. I know how many of us want to reach out and save these puppies and give them a good home but when you PAY for them, you are just keeping these type of deplorable people in the breeding business and causing their dogs to suffer at the cost of being bred over and over until they die or are killed for no longer being able to produce!
Newspapers, Craigslist, Ebay Pets, AKC online advertising. JUST STAY AWAY!!! None of these are used by Reputable breeders EVER. Even AKC online ads are full of back yard breeders GALORE!
Some terms you WILL NOT find on reputable breeder websites: Just so you are NOT confused...Again, WILL NOT FIND on a reputable breeders site:
USDA Inspected - If you see these words RUN! It means they ARE NOT hobby breeders. They usually are high volume mass producers (puppy mills).
AKC Approved Breeder - There is NO SUCH THING! AKC (American Kennel Club) does NOT approve breeders. They are just a registry body. AKC registration does not denote the quality of the breeder or the quality of the animals that are being produced! There is difference between "AKC Approved" and AKC Breeder Of Merit" which I will explain below, however AKC does not and will not endorse any breeder.
Silver Labradors, White Labradors, Charcoal Labradors or Champagne Labradors: Run Forrest RUN!!! You can find more info on our Nursery page about this issue. HUGE RED FLAG!!!!
BOTTOM LINE: Purchasing a pup from any of the sources above is a taking a huge chance, not to mention keeping these unscrupulous mass producers in business and their dogs continue to suffer. THINK long and hard before you purchase a puppy from any of the above.
THE Reputable Breeder;
Is a hobby breeder. They will not have to advertise in any of the above venues. They are frequently found on the internet with individual websites, or from referrals from previous purchasers, other breeders, Veterinarians or from Club websites. They breed only ONE breed...sometimes two but never multiple breeds of dogs and they will not have DESIGNER BREEDS. AKA Labradoodles, dorkies, and NEVER do they advertise the words "Rare, Mini, Massive or other selling point"
They will be a member of one or more of a breed specific clubs. Either their Breed Parent Club or a regional Specialty Club.
They health test their dogs.
They frequently are involved with rescue for their breed or contribute financially to rescue or other organizations dedicated to their breed.
They raise and train their dogs in a clean, healthy environment.
They LOVE their dogs.
They PARTICIPATE is some sort of venue (dog shows, performance events, etc)
You may find many with the "AKC Breeder of Merit" Banner. This ONLY indicates that they have been involved in the breed for a number of years, have bred dogs that earned AKC titles and certify that they do appropriate health testing. The breeder of merit DOES NOT ALWAYS indicate a QUALITY BREEDER! It only means that AKC recognizes them as a step above most other breeders.
Some are new breeders some are old timers. Regardless, new breeders are usually mentored by one or more Veteran breeders.
SO to find a quality breeder, ask for referrals. If your searching the internet, start with Breed clubs. Unsure how to find breed clubs? Type in the search engine "Labrador Retriever Club Tennessee, Georgia, etc" Not each state has a breed club. Most are regional but with members from many surrounding states. Once on that page, you will usually find a drop down for "breeder referrals" or "Litter Listings"
Good breeders raise pups to be proud of. You become part of their extended family when you take home one of their pups. Expect them to be picky. Some may appear rude BUT please be persistent, after-all they are NOT looking to make a sale, rather to find the best possible match for each puppy they produce. I promise you will be happy IF your patient and LOOK for the right BREEDER first. Then the right puppy will come along!!
There is so much more to a quality breeder, but these are the basics. Just do your homework! Word of mouth from previous puppy owners is worth it's wait in gold! And one last thing, recently it was brought to my attention from a puppy inquiry that someone was advertising show quality Labrador puppies in the city I live. They sent me their website link. After three seconds on their site, it was OBVIOUS. Backyard breeders. No pedigrees, NO health Clearances. And they have never stepped foot inside of a show ring. How can they possibly have show quality puppies for sale? They DON'T. I find their adult dogs look more like Mixes than purebred Labs. Final point. NO BREEDER worth a grain of salt advertises the words "SHOW QUALITY". The proper term is "Show Prospect" (as you can never guarantee a puppy will make a future show dog...there are too many variables). Next, if YOU don't even have a pedigree on your dogs, they have never been shown, or have never stepped a paw inside the ring, you have NO way to compare if the puppies from those dogs would be show prospects! So that is FALSE advertising!