Once you have decided that dog ownership is for you, and you know what breed of dog you are interested in, the next step is locating potential places to find your new puppy or adult dog. There are many different ways to locate potential dogs in your area, and we will give you the rundown of places to start looking!
1. Animal Shelters and Rescue Groups
Even if you are looking for a puppy and not a mature dog, we still recommend that you start looking at your local shelter. Many shelters have puppies and dogs under a year old available for adoption. Sometimes they are abandoned and picked up by animal control, rescued from an unsafe situation, or are born in the shelter. Oftentimes these dogs are not purebred, but you can still find ones that are the same breed or a crossbreed of the type of puppy you are looking for.
- Petfinder.com – This is the number one pet adoption website in the world; start your search here!
- Adoptapet.com – Nonprofit pet adoption website
- ASPCA.org – American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, adoption listings
- Animalhumanesociety.org – Dog adoption listings
All of these websites will have listings of dogs available for adoption right now near you.
In addition, you can find the websites of your local shelters and rescue groups through a simple Google search, using these terms:
- Animal Shelter (your zip code)
- Dog rescue (your town), (your state)
- (breed desired) dog rescue (your state)
The results should let you know if there are any shelters or rescues in your town or nearby. There usually are several close by if you live near any semi-large city, and looking locally is usually your best bet.
2. Local Dog Breeders
If you have decided you are interested in getting a purebred pup from a breeder or were unable to find the right dog through a shelter or rescue, then you can look for your new puppy from a local breeder. The easiest and quickest way to locate breeders near you is to use our website here at localpuppybreeders.com.
Our list of over 15,000 local breeders is by far the largest in the world, and you can easily locate breeders in your state using our drop-down menu from the top of our page. Be sure to finish this guide before taking the next steps though; there is valuable information about what to look for and how to choose a great breeder in the next few chapters.
While we have the largest breeder directory in the world, it is by no means a complete list of all the breeders in the USA. At the time of this writing our directory only includes breeders who have a website, and I would estimate less than 25% of all breeders near you have a web presence.
Another popular way to locate a reputable, responsible breeder is to use the American Kennel Clubs Breeder Referral Program. The AKC has listings on their website of breed-specific clubs and organizations to call. Those organizations will then direct you to breeders they know. This can be an excellent way to identify a great breeder near you. Keep in mind though that the AKC does not have any input or knowledge of the breeders being recommended, and leaves that up to the individual clubs to set their own “breeder criteria” and to make their own recommendation. So you will certainly still want to properly check out any breeders as there may not be thorough screening already done.
There are many ways to find breeders near you:
- Word of mouth
- Classified ads (both in the local paper and online)
- Contacting local veterinarians
- Checking on other dog listing websites
As you are searching through all these sites and identifying potential breeders in your area,start writing down the names of all the breeders who seem to fit your criteria.
3. Things to Look Out For
As you are searching through potential rescues and breeders (shelters are generally okay), there are a few things you should be sure to look out for and avoid if you see them.
Anyone representing themselves as a broker or breeder agent
- These people often work for or with commercial breeding facilities that produce dogs for profit, usually disregarding the health and wellness of the dogs.
Anyone selling puppies before they are eight weeks old
- Eight weeks is an industry standard, and anyone trying to sell puppies younger than that is putting the dogs at risk.
A seller who wants to meet in a public place, rather than at their home or breeding facility
- No reputable breeder or rescue group will refuse to allow you to come to their facility. (However, some rescues do operate without a facility, and house the dogs in “foster homes.”)
Anyone who sells their puppies to pet stores, or at fairs, events, flea markets, or garage sales.
These are general guidelines, and while there are always exceptions to the rule, avoiding these types of situations is usually for the best.
In chapter five you will learn how to ensure that a breeder is honest, humane, and trustworthy.