Always talk to more than one person.
Any reputable breeder will give you other reputable people to contact.
Find out about genetic health problems.
Every breed has one; a reputable breeder will be screening for them.
See at least one of the parents, if not both.
A reputable breeder will let you see one if not both parents. Show animals are very social – they have to be, they are always in the public.
See the environment in which it was raised.
Although life with animals may not allow for a show piece home, a reputable breeder’s home should be clean and the dogs or cats well cared for.
See the pedigree.
The pedigree shows the parents for at least 3-5 generations. There should be Champions in at least the first 2, not just the last 2. This shows that those animals were judged and proven to be good enough to be bred.
Get the shot and health records.
A reputable breeder will have a copy of all shot and health records. Shots may have been given by the breeder instead of a vet; this is a common practice to reduce the risk of possibly bringing an illness home from the vet
Get a guarantee of health.
A reputable breeder has no problem with this, although they cannot guarantee for viruses and diseases contracted after the animal leaves their care.
Get a spay/neuter contract.
This protects not only the breeder’s work but the animal and you in the long run. A reputable breeder does not want to see their animal end up in a mill situation where the animal’s life will be miserable and years of selective breeding and work destroyed. There are also those who wish to earn back the money paid for a pet animal by having a litter (s) and selling them (Backyard Breeders). Although many animals sold as “a pet” by a reputable breeder may be show quality, this does not mean they should be bred. Why? The idea behind raising and showing dogs is to perfect the breed. Ideally a litter of puppies that not only all conform to the breed standard determined by the AKC and the national club for that breed, but exemplify it. This can only be done by those who know the pedigrees and genetic backgrounds of their breed. Many breeds have been destroyed by their own popularity and those who wished to make a profit from or their money back. This is where SELECTIVE BREEDING became inbreeding.
A Reputable breeder is there after the sale.
Although not always available at the drop of a hat, they should always be willing to help with any health, diet or training problems you may have.
Beware of the broker.
These are individuals who pass themselves off as a friend or family member of a reputable breeder who lives out of the area, who fell ill suddenly, who had to go on vacation, who had a death in the family, etc. (we’ve heard lots of stories). These are individuals who ship animals in from mills to sell. There are always new and interesting stories but they are still mill animals and they should not be encouraged.