Finding a good, responsible breeder

Labrador puppie, outside, running, on grass

Once you’ve decided on the right breed for you and your household, you should find a responsible breeder to buy from. Finding a breeder who breeds healthy puppies is such an important step to get right, and the right breeder is worth the wait. Buying from someone who responsibly breeds healthy puppies will increase your chances of having a happy, healthy dog for the duration of their life. 

How to find a responsible breeder 

The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme to find a good, responsible breeder that promotes the health and welfare of their dogs and puppies. Assured Breeders all agree to follow good breeding practices that are inspected by the Kennel Club, and they are required to comply with breed-specific health screening.

The Kennel Club will visit Assured Breeders on application, and again every three years to ensure they’re complying with their welfare standards. 

What if a puppy is registered with the Kennel Club? 

There’s a difference between a Kennel Club Assured Breeder and a puppy that is registered with the Kennel Club. A Kennel Club Assured Breeder will ensure they meet the Kennel Club’s requirements for breeding welfare standards. A breeder who isn’t an Assured Breeder is able to register their puppies. A breeder who registers their puppy with the Kennel Club will record their birth and receive a number of benefits from this. If a breeder is claiming a puppy is ‘KC registered’, be sure to ask for proof of registration and their Kennel Club registration name. 

Other responsible breeders

Although there are many responsible breeders outside of the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme, it can be difficult to identify them. Start by asking friends and family, training clubs and your local vet for recommendations. It’s important to know what to look out for when researching breeders so you know how to recognise a responsible breeder and notice any potential red flags that could mean a puppy has not been bred in a welfare positive environment.
A responsible breeder will:

  • Be happy to speak to you on the phone, answer questions about the breed, and be keen to keep in touch with you.
  • Be keen to get to know you to ensure you’ll provide a suitable home for the puppy. This may be about your lifestyle and the type of home their puppy is going to.
  • Only breed from healthy dogs with no behaviour or health issues, and will be happy to provide health certification.
  • Encourage you to visit the puppies with their mother, and will never sell a puppy younger than 8 weeks old.
  • Ensure a bitch has only one litter within 12 months, four litters over their lifetime and none after having a caesarean section.
  • Ensure the mother and puppies have regular vet checks, including flea and worming treatments and vaccinations.
  • Ensure each puppy is microchipped and registered on a Government compliant database.
  • Ensure their dogs have a good quality of life, with an appropriate diet, a clean, warm environment and outdoor space. 
  • Have started to socialise the puppy at home. 
  • Issue a puppy pack, which includes food, paperwork and advice on progressing socialisation. 
  • Offer to take the puppy back, should your circumstances change throughout the dog's lifetime. 

A responsible breeder may also have a waiting list for their puppies. Remember, a responsibly bred puppy is worth the wait!

How to avoid a puppy farmer or scammer

Understanding how to spot an irresponsible breeder is incredibly important, but unless the dog is unclean or looks unwell, it can be tricky to spot a puppy farmer or rogue breeder. They will often go above and beyond to trick unknowing dog lovers, but there are things to look out for:

  • There are photos and descriptions that can be seen in multiple adverts.
  • They have several breeds available to buy at one time. 
  • They have little knowledge of the breed they are selling.
  • They are reluctant to let you visit the puppy with their mother. 
  • They are advertising the puppies as having passports.
  • They are pressuring you to send a deposit before you've been to visit.
  • They don’t let you see the mother and pups together, and use an excuse as to why she’s not present. 
  • They don’t let you visit more than once. 
  • They suggest meeting somewhere other than the puppies’ home or place of birth. 

Remember: never buy a dog from a pet shop or commercial third-party sellers. It is illegal to sell a puppy under eight weeks old away from the location where it has been bred.

If you have noticed any of these red flags and are worried a breeder might be a scammer or puppy farmer, don’t forget that you can walk away at any time. You can also report them to Trading Standards.
We're working hard to end the vile puppy smuggling trade for good:

Use our puppy buying checklist

Download and print our handy checklist to make sure you’re considering everything you need to when it comes to finding a responsible breeder and buying a puppy. 

pdf 987.4 KB
Puppy buying checklist

Other ways of getting a dog 

Buying a puppy is, of course, not the only way of bringing a new four-legged friend into your life. You can adopt a puppy from one of our many rehoming centres, you may even find that an older, wiser, more experienced dog suits your lifestyle better. Meet the dogs in our care and find your perfect match.