When I decided to add a dog to the family I knew right away it was going to be a Labrador. A quick google search showed me there TONS of breeders close to me and I was quickly overwhelmed with all the information available.
Enter Kolfyre Labradors.
I found Claire's website through my search and her article about finding a reputable breeder helped me quickly narrow down my search. I would HIGHLY recommend reading through her articles. Here's the direct link to the PDF version of her article on finding a reputable breeder.
Questions to Ask (PDF version at the bottom)
1. How long have you been breeding XYZ breed and why did you start breeding XYZ breed?
What you're looking for here is that the breed cares about the breed and is looking to improve the quality of the dogs. It becomes obvious pretty quickly if the breeder is just doing it for the money. If that's the case move on.
2. When do the puppies go to their new homes?
There are a few different theories on this but usually any time between 8-12 weeks is acceptable. Some states have different laws but it's important the puppies are not sent home too early as it interferes with their development and socialization.
3. How have the puppies been socialized?
This is important because you want your puppy to have exposure to as many new things as possible and that starts while they're with the breeder. Try to ask about your puppy specifically to see how s/he has responded to their environment so far. For example: has the puppy been outdoors or just in the basement? Has the breeder had visitors over to interact with the puppies? ect.
4. What's the puppy (and parent) temperament?
Ask about the puppy and also the parents as they are the best indicator of how your dog will turn out. I'll leave you to decide what you want in your dogs temperament but I personally avoid any dog described as protective or overly aloof. If possible meet the parents of your potential puppy to see for yourself.
5. What Health Guarantees do you have?
Make sure you see the contract with these guarantees BEFORE you put a deposit down on the puppy. It's important to understand what is guaranteed and how the breeder will respond if there is a problem with the puppy. Some breeders will give you a new puppy, some will compensate you, and some will do everything in their power to show it's your fault and not theirs.
6. Can I see the puppy's pedigree, health certificate, and contract?
The pedigree is like a family tree and it's important to see to make sure you're getting a quality puppy. Take time to look at the pedigree of both parents and make sure the dogs have had appropriate health screens. If you don't see what you're looking for then ask!
This is also a good time to ask about if the litter has been dewormed, what shots they've had, and if any of the litter has been sick or has known issues. Don't just take the breeders word for it ask to see the vet records for your potential puppy.
If the breeder makes you put down a deposit before seeing this information or will not show it to you for some reason find a different breeder.