If you’ve decided to get a new puppy or kitten, congratulations! We can’t wait to meet the newest addition to your family!

Deciding where to get that new addition can be confusing. If you’ve decided that a specific breed is right for your family, finding the right breeder is a big deal! With so many cat and dog breeders in Illinois, it can feel overwhelming.

Plus, how can you tell if a breeder is part of a puppy mill or not? They don’t exactly advertise the fact! Avoiding mills will mean you find a healthier companion, and don’t support the neglect and abuse often found in them.

To make sure you are working with a good, responsible breeder, and have the best chance of bringing home a healthy new companion, use the checklist below:

  1. You’ll meet the breeder in person. Responsible breeders want to know who their puppies go to. They’ll speak to you on the phone at least once or twice, and want to meet in person, too.
  2. The breeder will have lots of questions for you.  Good breeders screen potential owners and want to make sure that the breed is the right fit for you.
  3. You’ll meet the father and mother. The mother and father are usually both on the premise, and you’ll be able to meet them both.
  4. You’ll see the facilities. Breeders should be proud of their setup! They’ll be able to give you a tour and explain their approach to caring for their animals. The breeder won’t insist on meeting you at another location.
  5. There won’t be lots of different breeds available.  Responsible breeders focus on just one or a few breeds and take their stewardship of those breeds seriously.
  6. You may have to wait for a puppy.  Because good breeders only have a few breeding females and don’t overbreed them, you may have to wait for the next litter.
  7. The parents of your puppy will be screened for breed-related health problems.  Many breeds are prone to genetic conditions, and responsible breeders don’t breed from animals with these conditions. Each breed has different tests that will be performed on parents before breeding to ensure puppies are as healthy as possible.
  8. The puppies won’t go to you until they are at least 8 weeks old.  Good breeders will be focused on providing ample time with the dam (mother) and litter, as well as providing early socialization, before puppies go to new homes.
  9. You’ll receive full veterinary records and be able to contact their veterinarian if needed.  Your puppy will have seen a veterinarian a few times before you bring her home, and will come with full health records, including the contact information for that vet.
  10. The breeder will provide guarantees… that last the entire life of your new pet! The best breeders will want to know their puppies are in secure homes for their entire lives. If unforeseen circumstances mean you have to give up the dog later, the breeder will want the dog to come back to them rather than a shelter or unknown home, and will provide this guarantee.

If you are on the road to finding a breeder and have questions, we’d love to talk! We know what a big step this is, and want to make sure you find the best companion for your family. You can always call us with questions or concerns during this process. Once your new puppy (or kitten!) comes home, bring him in and we’ll perform a thorough checkup to get you started on the right paw!

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