A good breeder won't just provide you with a great puppy ...

By Natalie Ann Comeau

Once you've decided to add a puppy to your family, and chosen a breed that fits your lifestyle, the next step is choosing a breeder.

A good breeder won't just provide you with a great puppy - she'll also act as an ongoing resource who can answer questions, help you work through problems, and show you the ropes if you want to get involved in conformation shows or obedience trials.

But how can you tell the good from the bad?

CKC affiliation

In Canada, a purebred dog, by definition, is one that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club or another Canadian registry incorporated under the Animal Pedigree Act. Regardless of lineage, without the paperwork, the dog is not considered purebred.

  • Green light: The breeder is a member in good standing of the CKC and advises that you will receive your pup's registration papers within a few months of purchase.
  • Yellow light: The sire and dam are registered, but the breeder wants to charge extra for registering your puppy. (CKC rules do not allow members to charge purchasers a fee for this service.)
  • Red light: The breeder is selling the dogs as "unregistered purebreds" (there is no such thing). Only pups born to registered dogs can be registered themselves, and only the breeder can register them.


The longer someone has been involved with a breed, the more they know and the better they can advise you.

  • Green light: Their house is chock full of ribbons and awards, and they've been involved with the breed for decades.
  • Yellow light: They're new to the breed but are working closely with veterans who are mentoring and advising them.
  • Red light: They're into several breeds and their interest is limited to the breed's current popularity.

Health clearances

Responsible breeders perform the recommended tests to screen their dogs for hereditary health problems.

  • Green light: The breeder is forthcoming about the problems common to the breed and shows you results of clearances she's done on her dogs.
  • Yellow light: When asked, the breeder produces clearances for the sire and/or dam, but has no information about other dogs in the line.
  • Red light: The breeder tells you there are no problems in her line so she doesn't need to test.


Even great breeders who plan carefully and perform all the recommended health clearances can occasionally have a problem in their line. Good breeders provide guarantees that spell out what happens if your puppy turns out to have serious, hereditary health problems.

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