Knowing where to buy a dog is critical if you want your puppy to be happy and healthy. The way your puppy is bred and cared for as a baby will influence both their temperament and future health. The three main places you’ll find when searching for where to buy puppies are commercial dog breeders, dog retailers or pet shops, and home dog breeders. It’s very important to avoid buying a dog from a puppy mill, puppy farm, or any dog retailers that purchase puppies from these places. Today we’ll share the where to buy a dog that is purebred, mix or even designer hybrid puppy that will be friendly, affectionate, loyal, healthy and above all, happy. We’ll also give you top tips for places to avoid buying your new puppy, so that you don’t risk problems down the line or aid a bad breeder in unethical practices.
- Where to buy a dog from commercial breeders
- Dog retailers
- Where to buy a puppy from home breeders
- Where NOT to buy your puppy – places to avoid
Good breeders have dogs that they keep for more reasons than making money. They are therapy dogs, service dogs, pets, companions, hunting partners or bred for the show ring. Good breeders feed high quality food, give the mothers’ amazing care, and do lots of health testing and socialization. Finding where to buy puppies can be an overwhelming process. So, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for in a good breeder.
Good vs Bad Places To Buy A Puppy
There are good places and bad places to buy dogs and puppies. Knowing how to find a reputable breeder selling healthy puppies is important for your puppy’s quality of life, and for your own convenience and cost.
Looking after a sick puppy is expensive and distressing. Plus, it happens more often than you might think. So, once you have decided to purchase a puppy, you will need to know where to look in order to find a healthy and good tempered family pet.
Where to Buy a Dog – The 3 Main Options
Knowing where to buy puppies is important. So let’s look at the different options available to you as a puppy buyer. There are three main sources of puppies.
- Commercial dog breeders
- Dog retailers
- Home dog breeders
Bear in mind that anyone who owns a female dog and allows her to have a litter of puppies, is a dog breeder, even if only on a temporary basis. And that people in any of the above categories may advertise their puppies for sale online.
Some are more likely to do this than others, and knowing what to look for in an advert will help you choose between them.
Where to Buy a Dog From Commercial Breeders
Commercial breeders are those that make their living from the sale of puppies that they have bred. This includes puppy mills or puppy farms, and a few of the more successful hobby or ‘breed enthusiast’ dog breeders.
A puppy mill is a place where the primary purpose of the adult dogs used for breeding, is to produce puppies. Puppies are bred solely to generate a profit.
A hobby dog breeder is someone that is enthusiastic about the breed that they are interested in, and who participates in some kind of scheme for assessing their breed with the purpose of raising breed standards. Many such breeders will be involved in exhibiting their dogs at dog shows.
Some will be involved in competing in dog related activities. Labrador breeders may be competing in Hunt Tests or Field Trials for example. Border Collies may be competing in Obedience Trials or Agility. German Shepherds may be competing in Schutzhund or Working Trials
Hobby Breeder Kennels
A hobby or enthusiast breeder’s kennel is a place where the primary purpose of the adult dogs used for breeding, is to compete or win awards that recognize their talents or beauty.
Puppies in these establishments are bred mainly to further those aims and the surplus are sold as pets.
Obviously if a kennel is successful enough, and the dogs win high enough accolades, the breeder may be able to generate a significant income. Usually mainly from stud fees, rather than from sales of puppies. Though these too may be significant.
Puppy farms are very bad places to get a puppy. Whereas a commercially successful breed enthusiast, may sometimes be a good choice.
Is It Okay To Buy A Pet Shop Puppy?
Dog retailers make their living from the sale of puppies that they have purchased from a puppy mill or farm. They then sell these puppies on at a profit and make a living by turning over high volumes of puppies in a short timeframe.
You’ll find dog retailers in markets and malls, and some will have their own premises or sell puppies online through a website. These places are not a good place to buy a dog, as they are supporting the unethical puppy mills.
Where to Buy a Dog from Home Breeders
Home dog breeders don’t usually make a profit on a regular basis. They include many hobby or breed enthusiasts who are competing with their dogs. They also include pet dog owners that have allowed their female dog to have a litter.
These pet dog owners are often looked down on by breed enthusiasts, and referred to as ‘backyard breeders’. But they should not be discounted out of hand. In some cases a litter of puppies in a loving and caring family, can have a great start in life.
Places to Avoid
The following two commercial sources of puppies should always be avoided:
- Puppy farms or mills
- Puppy retailers
Some people have heard of puppy farms or puppy mills, and know that they are to be avoided. Others are not yet aware of the problems that can accompany a puppy born in a mill. And recognizing a puppy mill, or a farmed puppy, when you find one, is not always easy.
Such places are not always what you might imagine. And plenty of dog owners have purchased from a puppy farm inadvertently. Not all puppy farms keep dogs in squalor. So, how do you recognize a puppy farm when you meet one?
What is a Puppy Farm?
A puppy farm or mill is a place where female dogs are kept with the sole purpose of producing puppies for sale. These dogs are not pets, nor are they show dogs, nor are they working dogs.
A puppy farm girl will live in kennels, with several other females kennelled alongside her. In a small puppy mill she may be bought into the farmer’s house for puppy buyer visits. But not all breeding kennels will be puppy farms. Which makes things rather confusing! Nor are puppy farms necessarily squalid, dirty places (though some are).
Puppy farm females are not necessarily ill-treated in any kind of obvious way. They may be in good health and well fed. What defines them is that their primary purpose is the production of puppies. And that they lack any meaningful relationship or bond with a human being.
Signs of a Puppy Farm
One indicator of a puppy farm is a variety or range of different dog breeds for no apparent reason. Puppy farms often keep females of three or more different breeds. Often from completely different groups of dog.
If the breeder you are visiting has puppies from the hound group and the toy group, or from the sporting or gun dog group and the herding group for example, be a little suspicious. It is normal for working gun dog breeders to have more than one breed of gundog on the premises. They may have Labradors, and Chessies, or Springers and Cockers, for example.
And their dogs will probably be living much of the time in kennels, but this does not make their owners puppy farmers. A gun dog breeder will have a strong bond with all his dogs, and they will be trained, worked and loved.
If this apparent sporting dog breeder is also breeding Pugs and Newfoundlands however, this should set puppy farm alarm bells ringing.
Why You Should Avoid Puppy Farms
Puppies that come from puppy farms often have problems. They are less likely to have been bred from health tested parents. Though the existence of health certificates, for hips and eyes for example, does not necessarily mean that the puppy is not a farmed puppy.
Puppy farmers will do whatever it takes to sell puppies, and if this means basic health tests, then they may well carry these out.
Puppies Bred For Profit
Bear in mind that the objective of the puppy farm is profit and both health tests and veterinary treatment are expensive. Good quality puppy care is time consuming and in any business, time is money. Puppy farmers will cut corners where possible.
As a result, puppy farmed pups are more likely to be sickly. They are less likely to have been socialized and more likely to suffer from behavioral problems. Because the puppy farmer’s motives are primarily commercial, other aspects of the dogs’ lives may be neglected.
Female dogs that are used for puppy farming lead rather sad lives. They are not given proper opportunity to form loving relationships with human beings and often suffer mentally through lack of stimulation and exercise.
By refusing to buy a puppy farmed dog you are helping to stamp out the practice of keeping dogs in this unhappy way.
What About Pet Stores?
When buying from a shop there is no way of knowing your puppy’s background or health. A recent study has shown that such puppies are more likely to be aggressive, and by purchasing them you are perpetuating the puppy mill system which causes great distress to animals.
Where To Buy A Dog Online?
Where can I buy a dog? What about online? You may see puppies advertised in your local newspaper or online. Proceed with some caution. Nice puppies can sometimes be found in advertisements, but there are risks.
Sometimes reputable breeders have to advertise their puppies. This may be because they have been let down by some buyers. Or because they are looking for specialized homes (eg working gun dogs) for their puppies. In which case their puppies will usually be advertised on specialist websites like ‘The Gundog Club’.
Good breeders do not normally advertise puppies on big online puppy classifieds websites that cover all the different breeds of dog. Nor on big national listing sites where you can advertise everything from a second hand sweater to your pet elephant.
Adverts on these sites are much more likely to be from people that have just bred a litter from their pet, or from puppy farmers.
Many, if not most, well-bred puppies are booked in advance or sold by word of mouth. So, in order to get hold of one, you must first find a good breeder. Finding a reputable breeder is by far the best way to find the puppy of your dreams. For several reasons, the first and foremost of which is the health and temperament of your puppy.
A reputable breeder will be very knowledgeable about their breed. He or she will be aware of the diseases that are prevalent in the breed and will have tested their breeding stock where tests are available.
The reputable breeder will be focused on breeding puppies that will be healthy and make great companions. They are also likely to be a great support to their new puppy buyers and will take back the puppy if at any time disaster strikes your family and you can no longer keep him.
Reputable breeders have a massive amount at stake when they sell you a puppy. Their reputation is on the line with every puppy they sell.
We explain exactly how to find a reputable breeder in your area in this guide: How To Find A Breeder.
Where To Buy A Dog From A Healthy Litter?
Finding a good breeder does not necessarily mean that your search for a puppy is over. You still need to find a litter of puppies. Most good breeders will only have a few litters each year. However, many reputable breeders will also own at least one ‘stud dog’ who will be mated possibly many times a year, with good quality female dogs.
A good breeder will ‘vet’ the girls that their dog is mated too, often ensuring that they are health tested, and of good temperament. The breeder will be able to put you in contact with the owners of these females.
This gets you off to a great start with your search for a puppy.
A final route to consider when bringing a new dog or puppy into your home is turning to a rescue center. This article is primarily about buying a puppy from a breeder. So, if you would like more information on rescue center dogs and the adoption process, take a look at this guide.
It can be harder to find puppies at rescue centers. But, if you are happy to bring home a slightly older dog, this can be a great way to offer one a new, loving home. Rescue dogs often cost less than puppies. But, it’s important to make sure the dog’s temperament and care needs match up closely with what you can offer.
Rescue dogs that haven’t been treated well early on in life may take a lot more work and time until they trust you and feel at home in your family. But, it’s very rewarding when you get there.
I am looking for a boxer puppy and it seems next to impossible to see or meet a dog before buying. We live in CT I have another pup so it can’t be to old. I tried rescuing but never works. Also I keep looking for breeders in this area and or a boxer rescue with younger dogs any guidance????
I want a puppy so much it’s my dream
I want a puppy
Michellene Pepper says
In 2019 My mom lost her pet companion in our house fire after 13years .she is now ready to start looking we found one she loved online and they just stole her money. Mom is sick and really want a new love I feel that pets help with healing . Can any one help?
Hi, I’m looking for a Lab/Border Collie. I keep seeing claims for this mix online, but can’t find a reputable breeder.
Can you help?
Every dog we’ve had in the past 40 years has been from a shelter. This time around, I am going to try to find a good breeder and get a breed of my choosing. I agree with the experiences of those who posted here about what it is like to work with a shelter. It is also expensive. $600. of adoption fees. And when you look at the shelter sites, the majority of dogs available are some form of pit bull mix. A dog breed that I don’t want to have. There are never puppies and I want a puppy so I can raise it myself and not deal with any past experiences by the dog that affect their behavior.
There are more than enough puppies and adult dogs in shelters so there is no need for breeders to be producing more. Shelters are sad places for dogs to be dumped and all too often euthanized. I would encourage anyone who wants to love a beautiful dog…or cat, to visit shelters or check with foster care rescuers. You can find mix breeds (my opinion the best) and very often full breed pets. By all means, stay away from mall pet shops. Those animals most often come from backyard breeders and the breeder dogs are living a life of hell. Save the life of a dog that’s already here!
We really want to buy from puppy. I had a dachsund by what this article calls a backyard breeder, well she was the mom of a friend and lived down the street and I am glad I knew her. She sold me the last pup in the litter and he was a joy. He ran and jumped right into my arms and I knew he was the one. He only cost $250 too and as a daycare teacher I was not rich…so I am glad for backyard breeders. He was my dog for 12 years before leaving to live wih my daughter. who insisted it was hers (it was her birthday gift when she turned 7). He is still alive and well at 15.
Hi ! i tried to adopt puppy from the rescue center and they found dog 101 reason why not let me adopt the dog. so SAD. i was so disappointed . Me and my family have all great conditions to adopt a puppy and give a wonderful life but no they said oh you alive to far, your fence is not up to their standard and list go on ….and they want make me to give my dog the heart warm medicine for the whole life. sorry but no. So I was wandering so they keep those poor dogs in cages just to keep their business going?
Worst story ever. Adopt from a shelter #1
Jean Capizzi says
I rescued a senior 140lb GSD days before death because not only did no one want a dog that big buy he had bitten a few people. That dog was the love of my life and followed me everywhere, even sleeping next to my side of the bed every night. He’d have given his life to protect me.I’d give my right arm to find another. If anyone knows of such a dog, the bigger the better please let me know. I currently have a 105lb female GSD but she’s more attached to my husband. Please consider rescuing a senior dog. You’ll get back so much love and affection it’s incredible.
Thank you Jean for adopting a shelter dog!!! More people should follow your lead and not buy from a breeder!! ADOPT A SHELTER PET!!:
Some of the best dogs ever are shelter dogs. There is a special bond, as they seem to know you saved them. Please always check your shelter first, preferably with a knowledgeable trainer or someone who has worked with there dogs in obedience and can help you to pick a good temperament dog and one fitting your life style.
Thanks again for looking at your city animal shelter!
I adopted a 3 year old Dachshund. For the first three weeks he was great. After that his real personality came forth. He bit feet. If anyone moved their feet too close to himself, he would lunge at the feet. No one told us that at his former home, little children used to kick him. Shelter dogs can sometimes have very sketchy backgrounds. No more shelter dogs for me.
That is great you want people to adopt from a Shelter but I have been trying to adopt online from Shelters for 3 months. Difficult, red tape and the Dog you pick in a picture is GONE in a day. Worse experience is finding a dog and as you fill out long applications, the dog is adopted before you can get a email back. I just want to give a innocent dog a loving home, more love than they ever dreamed off and a long spoiled life…impossible with pet finder like sites. If I can buy a dog, I will because these “shelters” make it too difficult to even contact them. They have all these dogs available online but do not email or call you back. Sad in today’s cruel world, my family cannot give a dog a dream life!!!!
I have had the exact same experience. Rescue sites that never get back to you and if they finally do they tell you the dog you want is either already adopted or not a good fit for you. It is not easy to adopt a dog. I am becoming frustrated with it too. Good luck to you!!
I’m having the same problems. All of my previous pets have been strays, re-homes or rescues. This time I’m having an unbelievably difficult time finding a dog at a shelter or rescue group. I am allergic to all but a few breeds, so my options are already limited. All of those dogs are at the shelter for 4 hours tops before they are adopted, unless they have major issues. I’m also having trouble with rescue groups. You have to jump through all kinds of hoops and have to be deemed peferect by whate ver standard they have decided to set that day. Nevermind you have been a dog owner for 15 years and have good vet and personal references. Or worse, your application dissappears into a black hole never to be heard from again. I wanted to adopt an adult dog in need of a good home, but I am about to give up out of frustration and emotional exhaustion and buy a puppy of a breed that I am not allergic to. It’s either that or give up on pets altogether. I’m allergic to all cats.
When I was looking to adopt another dog I found that nearly every breed has a volunteer rescue group.
Bu using our states rescue fo schnauzers, we found a perfect dog.
I am ok with our local shelter but I check the dogs every week and they are first off never puppies, and never cute, all seem to be mangy and abused or if I see a nice looking one it says they do not like cats or chidlren….so I have been waiting 3 years now..and it is frustrating to me not to be able to go to a pet store and just buy a puppy, but none sell them around here at all. I looked at some sites to buy and they wnt more than 2,000 for a puppy? That is insane, only rich people can have puppies anymore.
Lynn S says
Am looking for a Westie on the West Coast ( Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona or Idaho). Had a wonderful little girl for 12 years from a local breeder in Oregon. Was the love of my life. Now have rescued a 4yr old female mixed breed and would like to find her a playmate. I would prefer a male this time.
After having 5 full bred expensive dogs that were completely researched, and 3 who were rescued, I never would purchase a dog from a breedee again. Not that I didn’t love all my pups the same, but I don’t believe in dog breeding anymore. Breeders don’t breed for the health of the dog. After losing 3 full bred dogs at a young age, I could never support that again. I can’t watch another dog suffer because they meet the breed standard. I know better now and will do better from now on. Will never support breeders again. I know they don’t intend to inflict harm, but owners and dogs are the collateral damage.
How about you guys adopt. Like you would be saving a life. They have plenty of puppies if you really need a puppy.
Lori A O'HANLON says
I am looking for a Cairn Terrier. I currently own one. He is 14 years old. I adore this breed of dog so much. I am not having any luck in finding a Cairn. Any suggestions?
Sandra Holdsworth says
Have you tried Cairn Terrier rescue groups?
kathy vuvan says
Hi I’m looking for a yellow/white mixed lab/pit. Lost my Lucy after 14 wonderful years.
Lorene John says
Thank you for this article.
I am in the “reputable breeder” category.
I breed Pomeranians for show. Only one or two litters a year, and the litters are small.
I get references from people who are forever homes, and from people who already have purchased from me in the past and want a companion for the first Pom.
I may keep one to show. Any puppiess that are not already spoken for, I advertise on the AKC Marketplace.
Vicki Patterson says
My special pom died 2 years ago and now I am looking for another one. Refuse to buy from a puppy mill, but having trouble finding a pom. Could you please contact me?
Looking for a pure bred English sheep puppy
Girl 3-4 months
Cinda pacelli says
Looking for a reputable beagle breeder in Ohio
Hi I looking for yellow Labrador puppy
Janet Conant says
Both of our German Shepherd’s come from a small reputable breeder. They pick the blood lines etc before breeding, fully hip tested, basic shots done. You also have to be referred by a previous customer in order to purchase a GSD puppy from them. There GSD pup’s start at $1500:00 and go up
What is his contact info
Why don’t you mention getting puppies from no-kill shelters. Don’t they deserve love and affection of a “Forever Home”. Hoping to get a new child from a no-kill shelter next year. I have had dogs from pet stores and private breeders. All were beautiful and loving. Now it’s time for a new child who maybe was not so lucky in life to get some well deserved love.
No kill shelters are great. However, why not get a dog from a kill shelter and save a life? A kill shelter is where my new dog is coming from ;because, I want to save a life.
Sunil wakode says
Good article with very useful information pet owner should not buy dog they can be adopted dog is not a toy it a living being I am against buy and selling of dog and cat just share these cute fury animal
I have 5 dogs but the most smart dog…she’s mixt Yorkshire Terrier with Maltesse ..that breed call Morkie.
Do you know where I can find Morkie in Thailand ?
Terri Toohil says
one very good way to find a breeder that you like is to go to dog shows and see what they are doing with their dogs. And after they have shown to go and talk to them. And then if they are willing to go to there kennel or home where they breed the dogs and meet their dogs. Any good breeder will welcome this. And often if you don’t want a puppy they have a dog that does not work out for show and is a valuable companion.
Nancy Perry says
I am looking to buy a dog. Not a puppy. I have looked at local shelters in my area, but have not found the one. I need help. I want to save a dog.
Nancy Perry says
Thank you. I hope to hear from you.