Puppy Buying Tips

Courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States

The first step on the road to pet ownership is to ask yourself some tough questions: Why do you want a puppy? Can you afford to keep one? Are you prepared to take care of a dog every day for his entire life? What kind of dog will match your lifestyle? Are you willing to spend the time it takes to help the puppy learn good manners?

If you’ve decided you’re ready for a dog, follow The HSUS' top five puppy buying tips and you'll be far more likely to secure a healthy, well-socialized dog who doesn't drain your emotions or your pocketbook. One, in other words, who doesn't come from a puppy mill.

1. Find a responsible breeder and visit the premises. Responsible breeders provide a loving and healthy environment for their canine companions, but don't simply take the breeder's word for it. Never buy a puppy without seeing where it and its parents are raised and housed with your own eyes. Download our Find a Good Dog Breeder checklist [PDF].

2. Don’t be fooled by common claims made by pet stores when pushing their puppies. Despite what they may tell you, pet stores DO sell puppy mill puppies. Read more about the false claims commonly made by pet stores at the Pet Store Doublespeak page.

3. Don't be swayed by a great website or ad. Just because a website says great things about their “home raised” or “family raised” puppies doesn’t make it true. Many puppy millers pose as small family breeders online and in newspaper and magazine ads. Read about dog lovers who were fooled by “breeder” ads and pet store claims at the Survivor Stories page.

4. Consider adoption. Adopting a dog instead of buying one is the surest way to strike a blow against puppy mills. To find the perfect match, you'll want to choose the right one for you and your lifestyle. Animal shelters have dozens of dogs, many of them purebreds, just waiting for homes. There are also breed specific rescue groups for every breed of dog, including “designer” or “hybrids” like Labradoodles and Puggles. Mixed-breed dogs also make wonderful pets. Read more about adopting a puppy through a shelter or breed rescue group at

5. Avoid the temptation to "rescue" a puppy mill puppy by buying him. Even though your intentions may be good, don’t buy a puppy with the idea that you are “rescuing” him or her. Your “rescue” opens up space for another poor puppy mill puppy and puts money into the pockets of the puppy mill. Pet stores won’t leave their cages empty and websites won’t leave their pages blank. The money you spend on your puppy goes right back to the puppy mill operator and ensures they can continue breeding and treating dogs inhumanely. If you see someone keeping puppies in poor conditions, alert your local animal control authorities instead of buying. Read more about the cruelty documented at puppy mills at the USDA Hall of Shame page.

Learn more about buying a puppy with the PuppyBuyersGuide.

Tell friends and relatives about puppy mills.

Find out what you can do to stop puppy mills.

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