So you want to become a dog owner! Congratulations! Once you’ve decided on a breed (and if you haven’t yet, check out this Dog Breed Selector from the American Kennel Club to get you started!), the next step is to choose a reputable breeder. Unfortunately, this can be trickier than it might sound! There are a lot of “backyard breeders,” or breeders with no real knowledge of how to ensure the safety and good health of their pups, and you want to try to avoid buying a dog in this type of situation. But how can you find the best place to get a dog of your chosen breed?
We’ve compiled a list of the best breeders in the USA. We looked into the top breeders of the 50 most popular breeds, arranged in alphabetical order. We also talked to several veterinarians to get their thoughts on how to find a good dog breeder, and we’ve included those tips below.
In This Article
How to Choose a Dog Breeder: Expert Vet Tips
We spoke to three veterinarians to learn about their recommendations for finding a responsible dog breeder. All three of them suggested meeting with the breeder so you can look at where their dogs live and see how they interact with their animals. If you need to do this virtually, that’s okay! You can still see what their facilities look like and how the dogs behave. Here are more of their suggestions:
Dr. Jennifer Coates says you should:
- Use reputable programs like Canine Health Information Center, the AKC Register of Merit, and Bred With H.E.A.R.T. to find out about responsible breeders in your area
- Ask breeders to show you the results of the health screens they have performed on their breeding stock. If they don’t perform screenings, find someone else.
- Ask for references and be sure to call them.
- Answer their questions. Good breeders want their pups to go to good homes, so they should have questions for you, too.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk shares these tips:
- Ensure the breeder does breed-specific screening (like OFA tests for dogs prone to hip dysplasia, genetic screening, etc.)
- Ask about vaccination and health records. Responsible breeders use preventative veterinary care to keep their dogs healthy.
- Find out how many litters they have and when they start breeding. They should only be breeding healthy animals who will improve the breed, and they should wait until the dogs are an appropriate age.
- Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
Dr. Melody Aitchison-Steed recommends the following:
- Ask questions and make sure the breeder is knowledgeable about the breed.
- Ask to see the puppy’s parents. If the breeder won’t let you see them or if they discourage a visit, look for someone else.
- Find out what paperwork you’ll be getting with your puppy. If they don’t have official paperwork, keep looking.
- Ask your friends, family members, and veterinarian for recommendations. Vets might have a breeder directory filled with the names of responsible breeders of different types of dogs.
Our List of The Top Dog Breeders in America
We looked at many breeders of many different dog breeds, and we came up with a list of the best in the country. We narrowed down the choices to the two best for each of the 50 most popular breeds. We tried to represent a wide range of states and regions of the USA. We considered factors such as whether they are listed with the AKC, how long they’ve been breeding, whether they’ve bred champions, and how they ensure the health of their pups. We hope you find the very best breeder to help you add a new furry family member to your household, and this is a great place to start.
NOTE: Use the links below to jump to a specific dog breed.
Top Breeder: Big Benz Akitas
Located in New York, Big Benz Akitas is a small kennel that performs all appropriate testing (OFA, eyes, and thyroid) on their breeding stock. The owners are very involved with their local rescue; in fact, they started out in the breed by rescuing their first Akita. They compete in dog shows and have several champions. They sell their puppies with full guarantees and are available for questions and help.
Another Great Option: Minda Akitas
Minda Akitas is a kennel located in Oklahoma. They are an AKC Breeder of Merit, and in addition to producing occasional litters, they also work in Akita rescue and offer adult dogs for adoption. This kennel sometimes breeds long-coated Akitas, which are not generally shown but can be good breeding stock. They do placement screening to ensure their pups go to good homes.
Top Breeder: IvyFarm Australian Shepherds
IvyFarm Australian Shepherds is located in Ohio. They breed their stock occasionally, and all puppies are raised in the home with excellent socialization practices. They test their dogs for hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems, and a variety of genetic defects. They ask many questions of potential buyers to ensure their puppies are going to good homes, and non-show-quality dogs are sold with a non-breeding contract.
Another Great Option: SkyHi Australian Shepherds
SkyHi Australian Shepherds is located in California. They’re dedicated to the preservation of the breed, choosing to breed only dogs who pass health checks and all available testing. They have several AKC champions in their breeding stock, and they are planning two litters in 2022. They have a thorough puppy placement questionnaire and a document spelling out their policies.
Once you get your Australian Shepherds home, you might want to check out our buying guide to finding the best brush for an Australian Shepherd.
Top Breeder: The Basset Barn
The Basset Barn is located in New Hampshire. This is a small kennel, and the owners allow the dogs, all of which are AKC registered, to have free access to both the house and the fenced yard. They are invested in making sure their pups go to good homes, so they ask a lot of questions of potential buyers and try to match each puppy’s temperament to the lifestyle of the family who will be welcoming them.
Another Great Option: Corkey Basset Hounds
Corkey Basset Hounds is located in Virginia. They have the distinction of being featured in the AKC Museum in New York. As breeders of over 26 years, they’ve produced many top-winning show dogs and champions. They welcome visitors to their 10-acre kennel, and they test all of their breeding stock for thrombopathia and glaucoma, two issues that Bassets are prone to. They have comprehensive information and a questionnaire on their website.
Top Breeder: Magnolia Beagles
Magnolia Beagles is located in Florida. They’re a small hobby breeder that produces only one litter per year. They carefully screen all buyers and stand behind their puppies. Also, all pups are socialized prior to going to their new homes. The owners have produced and shown many champions and are actively working toward achieving championship with several of their other dogs.
Another Great Option: Aloha Spirit Beagles
Aloha Spirit Beagles, based in California, are another small kennel that has puppies occasionally. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit, and the owners participate in dog shows in the conformation ring, competing in both all-breed and specialty (Beagle-only) shows. They’ve bred many champions and are members of local and national breed clubs. Their puppies are sold with non-breeding contracts.
Top Breeder: Burr Oak Malinois
Burr Oak Malinois is located in Indiana. They recognize the immense amount of work that must go into raising and training Malinois and have dedicated themselves to improving the breed. They screen potential puppy buyers to make sure they’re well-suited for a puppy, and once they have enough interest, they’ll consider breeding a litter. Their dogs are working dogs, the kennel is located on a sheep farm.
Another Great Option: Chaland Malinois
Chaland Malinois, located in Missouri, considers their dogs to be both companions and working dogs. They’ve achieved titles including International Championship, Schutzhund, French Ring, and more. Puppies are well-socialized and exposed to various training and enrichment techniques before going to their new homes. They maintain a strict code of ethics and screen potential puppy parents well.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Top Breeder: Tollhaus Bernese Mountain Dogs
Tollhaus Bernese Mountain Dogs, located in Georgia, is an AKC Breeder of Merit. They’ve been involved with Bernese Mountain Dogs since 1991, and they are active in a variety of dog sports, including conformation, nosework, obedience, and rally. They have one litter per year and they have a comprehensive contract for anyone buying a puppy; this includes the requirement of teaching the pup obedience.
Another Great Option: Lion Heart Bernese Mountain Dogs
Lion Heart Bernese Mountain Dogs is located in Kansas. They were established in 1993, and they work to better the quality of the breed. They are knowledgeable about the breed and have a page on their website dedicated to explaining what makes a reputable breeder. They also have an evaluation form that will help them determine whether someone would be the right type of owner for one of their pups.
Top Breeder: Brereton Bichons
Located in Alabama, Brereton Bichons began in 1976 and has been passed down to the current generation within the family. They take very good care of their dogs and all are treated for knee, eye, and hip problems, as they can occur with this breed. They have a comprehensive application for those wanting a puppy, and their dogs are sold under a non-breeding contract, which means they’re for companionship only.
Another Great Option: Shira Yuri Bichons
Shira Yuri Bichons, who are located in California, are breeders who also show their dogs extensively. All breeding stock are AKC champions, at a minimum; some are grand champions. The kennel is inspected annually and licensed, and they take pride in providing excellent care for their puppies. They are also there for the life of the dog; if you cannot keep it for some reason, they’re available with care and re-homing help.
Top Breeder: M&M Bloodhounds
North Carolina’s M&M Bloodhounds are small-scale breeders who show their dogs. They have one or two litters per year, and the end goal is to produce high-quality Bloodhound puppies who can compete in dog sports. Many of their dogs also do search and rescue and other nosework sports. M&M Bloodhounds are AKC Breeders of Merit and have a very extensive application for those wanting puppies.
Another Great Option: Bloodhound Ranch
Bloodhound Ranch, located in California, are breeders who are in the sport for the betterment of the breed. They’re AKC judges and exhibitors, breed club members, and work in dog therapy with their dogs. They also do man-trailing with their Bloodhounds. They’re big advocates for responsible breeding and are happy to work with new Bloodhound owners to better understand the breed.
Top Breeder: Hidden Valley Border Collies
Hidden Valley Border Collies, based in Oregon, was awarded the AKC Breeder of the Year in 2019. They’re also an AKC Breeder of Merit. They compete in agility, herding, obedience, conformation, and tracking events with their dogs, and have been breeding high-quality Border Collie puppies since 1985. They don’t have litters frequently, but you can email to find out when they might have puppies.
Another Great Option: AbFab Border Collies
AbFab Border Collies is located in Massachusetts. They are AKC Breeders of Merit and members of the Border Collie Society of America. Their dogs are bred for companionship, performance, and conformation. They breed litters infrequently, but they love to talk about their dogs and the breed in general, so they’re a great resource if you’re looking for information on Border Collies.
Top Breeder: Brindle Hill’s Boston Terriers
New York’s Brindle Hill’s Boston Terriers have been breeding champion Boston Terriers for nearly 50 years. They’ve tested their dogs extensively to be sure they’re free from common genetic defects, and they breed carefully as to uphold the breed standard as closely as possible. They don’t breed or sell off-color Terriers, for example. Potential buyers are screened carefully to be sure they are appropriate for the breed.
Another Great Option: Achates Bostons
Wisconsin-based Achates Bostons is a small kennel that’s very diligent about puppy and dog care. They carefully screen potential buyers and remain co-owners of the dog throughout its life, so if you cannot keep the pup for some reason, they will take them back to care for and re-home. Puppies are not sold until they are at least 10 weeks old and litter trained. All dogs are tested for health and genetic defects.
Top Breeder: CedarLin Boxers
CedarLin Boxers is located in Iowa. The breeders are active in conformation, agility, and obedience, and they choose dogs to breed who have the temperament to succeed in various types of competitive events in addition to being great companions. All dogs are health-tested as well. They work with a Boxer rescue and are members of several national and local Boxer and dog sporting clubs.
Another Great Option: Gentry Boxers
Gentry Boxers, located in Texas, is a small breeder who takes health testing very seriously. They are an AKC Breeder of Merit and a Bred With H.E.A.R.T. breeder. They have puppies available occasionally, and they do offer stud service with their suitable males. They feed their dog natural foods and use natural cleaners to reduce any risk of toxicity. They also choose not to vaccinate their pups, so ask them about this.
Top Breeder: Far Out Fields Brittanys
Located in Florida, FarOut Fields Brittanys are a kennel that offers not only puppies but also grooming, training, and boarding services. They are an AKC Breeder of Merit and part of the Good Dog Responsible Breeding Program. Their dogs compete in dog shows, obedience, and dog sporting events; they also make great family companions. They’re involved with dog rescue, too.
Another Great Option: Hilltop Brittany Kennel
Georgia’s Hilltop Brittany Kennel is an AKC Bred With H.E.A.R.T. breeder. They compete with their dogs at AKC events and also field dog sporting events. They also train their dogs in obedience and some of them are birding dogs and participate in gun events. Their breeding stock has been screened for heart, hip, eye, and knee problems and they take pride in offering well-rounded puppies.
Top Breeder: Bullyful Bulldogs
Minnesota-based Bullyful Bulldogs have puppies occasionally. They are members of national and local breed clubs and they test their breeding stock for health issues common to Bulldogs, including hip dysplasia. They’ve been involved with the breed since 1997 and they exhibit their dogs at dog shows. They’ve bred and shown several champions and won the Bulldog specialty show in 2012.
Another Great Option: Poplarhill Bulldogs
Poplarhill Bulldogs is a small Kentucky-based kennel that got its start with American Foxhounds but transitioned over to Bulldogs many years ago. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and members of national and local Bulldog clubs. They’ve bred several champions and are actively showing dogs in the hopes of gaining more championships. They have puppies occasionally and can refer to other breeders.
Top Breeder: CastleGuard Cane Corso
CastleGuard Cane Corso, located in Colorado, got its start before Cane Corsos were even recognized by the AKC. By the time they were recognized, they already had several champions under their belts. They carefully raise their puppies and expose them to a variety of people, places, and things to ensure excellent socialization. They have a qualification process for potential puppy-buyers.
Another Great Option: Gulf Coast Cane Corso
Gulf Coast Cane Corso is located in sunny Southwest Florida. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and all puppies come with written health certificates with hip and temperament guarantees. Puppies are well-socialized and exposed to other dogs and children, and they have their first set of vaccinations. There is an extensive application to help them determine whether a Cane Corso is right for you.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Top Breeder: Linrica Cavaliers
Linrica Cavaliers is located in New Jersey and is an AKC Breeder of Merit. Their pups come from champion lines and are all health certified. The parents are tested for hip, heart, knee, and eye health, and their line has been DNA tested for Dry Eye, Curly Coat, and Episodic Falling Syndrome, all conditions common to the breed. They focus on the unique personalities of each pup for placement.
Another Great Option: Redbud Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Redbud Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is a kennel located in Oklahoma. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and are active in national and local breed clubs. The breeder’s daughter is an AKC handler, and they exhibit their dogs in the show ring. Puppies are available occasionally to loving families who are looking for a pet. They also offer in-home pet sitting for dogs of all breeds.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Top Breeder: Silvercreek Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
Deleware’s Silvercreek Chesapeake Bay Retrievers is an AKC Platinum Breeder of Merit and adheres to strict ethical breeding standards. Their dogs have competed in conformation, obedience, hunting, and field trials and have won many titles. Their breeding stock is cleared of hip and eye problems and their puppies are well-socialized. They have a questionnaire to help them screen potential buyers.
Another Great Option: NukaBay Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
NukaBay Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are owners, trainers, and breeders located in Alaska. They have bred and shown many American and Canadian champions, and they also participate in hunting, obedience, and other dog sports. They’re members of national and local breed and sporting clubs. Check with them to see if they have puppies available and what their screening process is.
Top Breeder: KA-Lynn’s Chihuahuas
KA-Lynn’s Chihuahuas is located in Missouri. They are an AKC Breeder of Merit and have been involved in the breed since 1984. They’ve produced over 50 champions and are avid show exhibitors. Their puppies come with a health guarantee and a comprehensive contract. They’re sold around the age of 12 weeks as long as they are of a safe size and weight to go to their new home.
Another Great Option: Pinewood Acres Chihuahuas
Maine-based Pinewood Acres Chihuahuas is an AKC Breeder of Merit and also a Bred With H.E.A.R.T. breeder. They show both short- and long-coated Chihuahuas, and they’ve competed in both obedience and conformation over the past 32+ years. While they don’t typically have puppies now, they’re happy to refer people to reputable breeders who love the breed and may have puppies available.
Learn more about the size and weight of chihuahuas with our chihuahua growth chart.
Top Breeder: Tru-Luv Cocker Spaniels
Tru-Luv Cocker Spaniels is a small hobby breeder located in Northern California. They are an AKC Breeder of Merit and specialize in black and buff-colored Cockers. They’re active in the conformation ring, agility courses, and obedience trials, and they occasionally have a litter of puppies. They test their dogs for hip problems and breed happy, healthy dogs who make excellent pets.
Another Great Option: Acadia’s Cockers
Louisiana-based Acadia’s Cockers is a small kennel. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and are active in several national and local breed clubs. Since 1996, they have bred over 50 champions. They screen all dogs for hips, eyes, and any other genetic issues as needed. Many of their puppy-buyers have returned to add second or third dogs to their families and households.
Top Breeder: Kings Valley Collies
Kings Valley Collies is located in Oregon. They avidly show their dogs and have bred over 100 champions. They’re members of many different local and national dog clubs. Their dogs, including their puppies, are well-socialized and stay in the house living among the rest of the family. They carefully match their pups to potential owners based on personality and other factors.
Another Great Option: Thorndale Collies
Wisconsin’s Thorndale Collies is a kennel producing both smooth-coated and rough-coated Collies. They’re members of quite a few local and national breed and dog-related clubs. They have puppies occasionally and carefully qualify all potential owners. The kennel is an AKC Breeder of Merit and upholds all requirements in terms of health testing and dog care.
Top Breeder: Paradise Dachshunds
Paradise Dachshunds, located in Massachusetts, is a licensed and inspected small kennel. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and they offer both short- and longhaired Dachshunds. They’ve produced over 30 champions. All dogs live indoors with the family and are surrounded by people on a full-time basis. They’re well-socialized and also health-screened, dewormed, and vaccinated before being placed.
Another Great Option: Ali’i Alaskan Unu Kennels
Ali’i Alaskan Uno Kennels is located in Alaska and they are an AKC Breeder of Merit for both Dachshunds and Akitas. They’re a small hobby breeder and only have puppies available occasionally. The breeder is a member of both national and local breed clubs and also participates with rescue groups. There’s an extensive application that helps determine whether potential buyers are well-suited.
Top Breeder: Rahdy’s Dobermans
Illinois-based Rahdy’s Dobermans is an AKC Breeder of Merit for both Dobermans and English Cocker Spaniels. They’re also an Ethical Breeder Award winner with TrainPetDog.com. They do not breed white Dobermans, as albinism is considered a harmful mutation, and they are up-to-date on all required health testing. There is a puppy questionnaire to help determine the suitability of potential buyers.
Another Great Option: Braveheart-Loyalheart Dobermans
Braveheart-Loyalheart Dobermans is a small breeder located in New York. They strictly adhere to the Pinscher Club of America Code of Ethics and are members of national and local breed clubs. All of their puppies come with a two-year health guarantee and are crate-trained, vaccinated, health-checked, ear-cropped, tail-docked, and dewclaw-removed. They come with a comprehensive contract.
If you wind up bringing a Doberman home, you may want to check our guide to the best dog food for dobermans.
English Cocker Spaniel
Top Breeder: Jolyn English Cocker Spaniels
Jolyn English Cocker Spaniels have been a hobby breeder in Washington for 30 years. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and perform all recommended testing on their dogs. They’re also members of local and national breed clubs. They also only breed national champions who are over the age of 2. They take pride in breeding for soundness, health, and temperament and have occasional litters.
Another Great Option: Foxwoods Farm English Cocker Spaniels
Foxwoods Farm English Cocker Spaniels is a small kennel located in Virginia. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit for both English Cockers and Golden Retrievers, and they encourage potential buyers or people who are interested in the breed to visit them at their home to see and interact with their dogs. They have a puppy questionnaire application and carefully screen potential buyers.
English Springer Spaniel
Top Breeder: Ocoee English Springer Spaniels
Ocoee English Springer Spaniels, based out of Michigan, has been contributing to the betterment of the breed since 1972. They’ve produced 74 champions and are both an AKC Breeder of Merit and a member of the Good Dog Responsible Breeding Program. They have puppies available occasionally and show their dogs frequently. Contact them to see when the next litter is available.
Another Great Option: Osage Kennel
Connecticut-based Osage Kennel is an AKC Breeder of Merit of English Springer Spaniels. They have one or two litters per year, and the puppies are raised in the house with the family so they’re properly socialized. Their dogs compete in field trials and their focus is on breeding animals who will be good hunting dogs. Their puppies are guaranteed healthy and the parents have healthy eyes and hips.
Top Breeder: Fancibul French Bulldogs
Fancibul French Bulldogs, located in Oklahoma, is an AKC Breeder of Merit who abides by strict ethical guidelines. They began breeding in the early 1990s and have since produced over 70 champions as well as many Frenchies that have been successful in other countries. They are a great resource for new owners and have information on the site to help people decide if this is the breed for them.
Another Great Option: Bullworth French Bulldogs
Texas’s Bullworth French Bulldogs has been involved with the breed for over three decades. They show and breed their dogs and have occasional litters. As an AKC Breeder of Merit, they are held by strict ethical standards when it comes to breeding and testing their dogs. Their puppies come from champion bloodlines and are vaccinated and microchipped for optimal health and safety.
Top Breeder: Von Haus Merkel German Shepherds
Von Haus Merkel German Shepherds hail from Texas, but the dogs are from 100% German bloodlines. The dogs are trained and titled in various dog sports, and they’re also health-screened for defects in their hips, elbows, heart, thyroid, and eyes. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and have nearly 50 years of experience with the breed. Some of their dogs are suitable for service-dog training.
Another Great Option: Appleridge German Shepherd Dogs
Appleridge German Shepherd Dogs is a Florida-based kennel with the Good Dog Responsible Breeder designation. They’re also an AKC Breeder of Merit and a Bred With H.E.A.R.T. breeder. In addition to breeding and showing their dogs, they also train some to work with people with disabilities. They have an extensive puppy questionnaire to help them match pups with potential owners.
German Shorthaired Pointer
Top Breeder: Fieldfine German Shorthaired Pointers
Fieldfine German Shorthaired Pointers is located in North Carolina. They were named the 2016 Top Sporting Group Breeder of the Year and are also a Platinum AKC Breeder of Merit. They have produced champions as well as hunting-titled dogs. They carefully screen each potential home and match them with a puppy based on an extensive questionnaire.
Another Great Option: Top Gun Kennel
Top Gun Kennel, based in Iowa, takes pride in the genetics of their line. In fact, they’ve produced many high-ranking hunting dogs. This AKC Breeder of Merit breeds one litter per year, and they take limited deposits. Their goal is to improve the breed with every litter. Puppies come with a health guarantee and have been dewormed and immunized according to their age.
Top Breeder: Goldiva Goldens
Maine’s Goldiva Goldens is a breeder with experience dating back to 1984. They also show their dogs in the conformation ring, obedience trials, and hunting fields, and they have titles in all three of these. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and screen buyers well. They require all puppies to be placed in obedience classes and pups are sold with limited AKC registration, so they can’t be bred.
Another Great Option: Bearabella Golden Retrievers
Bearabella Golden Retrievers is a small kennel in Georgia. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and also members of national clubs in the USA and Canada. They’re licensed in accordance with their local regulations. Hips, elbows, eyes, hearts, and thyroids are all screened in their breeding stock, and they only breed dogs with good dispositions. They have a couple of litters per year and work to better the breed.
If you want to learn more about how big golden retrievers can get you can find out more in our golden retriever growth chart.
Top Breeder: Old Mission Great Danes
Old Missions Great Danes is a Michigan-based AKC Breeder of Merit. They’re also certified to rescue dogs. They’ve had Great Danes for over 20 years, and they began rescuing giant breed dogs in 2001. They began their breeding program in 2007 and breed up to two litters per year. All dogs are health-tested and well-socialized, and potential buyers are well-screened for suitability.
Another Great Option: Neet Great Danes
California’s Neet Great Danes are an AKC Breeder of Merit as well as Bred With H.E.A.R.T. breeders. In addition to offering puppies for sale, they also work with rescues and encourage people to consider rescuing a Dane. They sometimes have older puppies or adults available, too. They’ve achieved the distinction of being the Great Dane Club of America’s “Breeder of the Year” and all dogs are health-tested.
If you are considering bringing home a Great Dane, find out how much they’re likely to weigh at different ages with our Great Dane growth chart.
Top Breeder: Carita Havanese
Carita Havanese, located in Virginia, is a Bronze AKC Breeder of Merit of Havanese. They compete in agility and pursue AKC championship titles. This is a small hobby breeder; they have just a few litters each year. Puppies are raised in the house and socialized with all different types of people and situations. They choose puppies for potential owners based on personality and offer a three-year health guarantee.
Another Great Option: Hola Havenese
Florida’s Hola Havenese is an AKC Breeder of Merit. They breed a couple of litters per year with the goal of bettering the breed. They do extensive health testing, and all puppies come with a health guarantee and contract. They’ve bred and raised many champions and are active in the conformation ring. All puppies are sold to pet homes with a limited registration, so they can’t be bred.
Top Breeder: Greenstone Labradors
Greenstone Labradors is a small hobby breeder in Texas. They are AKC Breeders of Merit and they have produced 40 champions over the past 16 years. They usually breed two litters per year, and they keep a limited number of puppies and adults in their home. The rest go to carefully screened pet homes with a limited registration (they can’t be bred). They generally do not sell show-quality pups.
Another Great Option: Designer Labrador Retrievers
Designer Labrador Retrievers, located in New York, is an AKC Breeder of Merit with over 20 years of experience. All of their dogs are health-screened and tested for hip, eye, and other issues before being bred. They have yellow, black, and chocolate (brown) Labs. They show their dogs in both American and Canadian conformation rings and have champions in both countries.
You can learn more about how big a Labrador will get by checking out our Labrador growth chart.
Top Breeder: MaltaAngel Maltese
California’s MaltaAngel Maltese was the first Maltese breeder to achieve the AKC Breeder of Merit designation. They carefully test all of their dogs before adding them to their breeding stock, and they uphold strict ethical standards. They’ve bred several high-ranking Maltese and have been engaged with the breed since 1993. They occasionally have puppies for sale to screened homes.
Another Great Option: Dolce Maltese
Dolce Maltese is located in Minnesota. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and have been involved with the breed for 30 years. Their philosophy is to produce loving pets first and show dogs second, but they’ve produced many successful champions. They occasionally have puppies available, and there is an application to fill out. This breeder also offers advice on caring for the Maltese coat.
Top Breeder: Gaffle Bullmastiffs
Gaffle Bullmastiffs is located in Minnesota. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and carefully screen their dogs for heart, eye, thyroid, hip, and knee problems. They have produced over 50 AKC champions and over 150 with various AKC titles. They are members of both local and national breed clubs and have held committee positions for three of them. There’s an application for potential puppy-buyers.
Another Great Option: Cooper’s Mastiffs
Virginia’s Cooper’s Mastiffs breed for health, temperament, and adherence to the Mastiff standard. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and have bred many champions. They’re passing their love of dogs to the next generation; their son competes in the Junior Showmanship ring. They have owned, loved, and bred Mastiffs for many years and are a great resource for those interested in the breed.
Miniature American Shepherd
Top Breeder: Crimson Miniature American Shepherds
Crimson Miniature American Shepherds, located in Missouri, is an AKC Breeder of Merit. They comprehensively test their dogs for genetic conditions that affect the breed. They compete on agility courses and in conformation rings, and their dogs spend time on 15 acres of land and in the house with their owners. Their puppies come with health guarantees, microchips, vaccinations, and lots of support.
Another Great Option: Tanasi Bluff Ranch
Tennessee’s Tanasi Bluff Ranch is an AKC Breeder of Merit of Miniature American Shepherds. They fully test all of their breeding stock, and their focus is on structural soundness, temperament, and how well they uphold the standard. They’re members of several local and national breed clubs. They have puppies occasionally, and they’re often spoken for before they’re born, so contact them to find out more.
Top Breeder: Ardenwood Miniature Schnauzers
Ardenwood Miniature Schnauzers is a small hobby breeder located in Oregon. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and have leadership positions in various local and national breed clubs. Having already produced over 20 champions, they breed three litters per year with the intention of producing another champion or two. Most of the puppies will go to well-screened, loving pet homes.
Another Great Option: Axcium Miniature Schnauzers
Axcium Miniature Schnauzers, located in Georgia, is an AKC Breeder of Merit and also a member of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club. They’ve been involved with the breed for over three decades and are happy to share their knowledge and passion with others interested in these dogs. They don’t sell puppies online, but you can contact them if you are interested in future litters.
Top Breeder: Beach Bear Newfs
Florida’s Beach Bear Newfoundlands have been breeding and raising these gentle giants since 1993. They have both black and landseer Newfs, and they’re members of local and national breed clubs. They are an AKC Breeder of Merit and have produced many champions and titled dogs. There’s a lengthy application process to be sure that your home is suitable for a Newf puppy and that this breed is right for you.
Another Great Option: Avalon Bey Newfoundlands
Avalon Bey Newfoundlands are a small breeder located near Charlotte, North Carolina. Over the past 20 years, they have bred over 80 titled dogs, including over 40 AKC champions. They are an AKC Breeder of Merit and they show their dogs in conformation as well as obedience/rally. They have occasional litters and sometimes have young adult dogs available, as well.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Top Breeder: Northrun Pembroke Welsh Corgis
Northrun Pembroke Welsh Corgis is a Maine-based breeder, but they winter in Florida. They’ve been involved with the breed for the past 30 years and have had much success in the conformation ring, breeding several champions over the years. They are also proud of the loving pets they’ve produced, as most puppies do go to pet homes. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit.
Another Great Option: Limarie Pembroke Welsh Corgis
South Carolina’s Limarie Pembroke Welsh Corgis is an AKC Breeder of Merit. They lovingly care for their dogs and are involved in local Corgi rescue. They have a comprehensive application process to determine whether someone is suitable to own a PWC, and they match puppies to owners based on personality and other factors. They can go home at 10-12 weeks of age and are vaccinated, microchipped, and socialized.
Top Breeder: RobCary Pomeranians
Texas’s RobCary Pomeranians is a small hobby breeder near San Antonio. The dogs live in the house but have a large yard to run around in. This is an AKC Breeder of Merit, and they keep the number of litters they breed low to give each dog the attention they deserve. Puppies are well-socialized and raised in the main living areas; the breeder taught obedience for 30 years and is experienced with proper socialization.
Another Great Option: Chars Pomeranians
Chars Pomeranians, located in Michigan, is an AKC Breeder of Merit. They show their dogs and have produced many champions. They also occasionally have puppies. Their number one priority is the health of their dogs, and they wait to breed them until the females are at least three years old and the males are at least four. Puppies are trained and also vaccinated, microchipped, and altered if they’ll be a pet.
Top Breeder: DeMarnique’s Miniature Poodles
DeMarnique’s Miniature Poodles in Delaware is an AKC Breeder of Merit. They started out raising Standard Poodles but then switched to Miniature Poodles. They’re keenly aware of the health problems that can affect Poodles and perform all required testing (eyes, hips, knees, and general bloodwork) before breeding. They breed red, apricot, cream, black, and brown puppies.
Another Great Option: Debonair Poodles
If you’re looking for a Standard Poodle, Debonair Poodles in Florida might be the right breeder for you. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit as well as a member of the United Poodle Association and other organizations. They have been involved with the breed since 1980 and breeding since 1995. They test for a very wide array of genetic and breed-specific defects before breeding their dogs.
Once you bring home your poodle you can take a look at our guide to finding the best dog trimmers for poodles.
Portuguese Water Dog
Top Breeder: Mariner Portuguese Water Dogs
Mariner Portuguese Water Dogs, located in Texas, is a small hobby breeder who competes in conformation, obedience, water work, tracking, and other dog sports. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and they test for a variety of genetic issues known to affect PWDs. They also host a “water camp” for owners to learn how to train their dogs to compete in water sports. They offer puppies occasionally.
Another Great Option: Caladesi Portuguese Water Dogs
Florida’s Caladesi Portuguese Water Dogs is a hobby breeder who also participates as an evaluator for AKC Canine Good Citizen, Trick Dog, and Star Puppy tests. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit and a Bred With H.E.A.R.T. breeder. They occasionally have a litter of puppies, and they have a fairly extensive puppy owner questionnaire to see if someone would make a suitable owner of a PWD.
Top Breeder: Heuberg Pugs
Heuberg Pugs, located in Maryland, has been producing high-quality Pugs for 40 years. They train and handle their own dogs in the conformation ring and have bred many champions. They breed for quality, not quantity, so they don’t always have puppies available. Also, each pup goes to a carefully screened home and has a full contract. They offer professional dog training, too.
Another Great Option: WindWalker Pugs
Washington’s WindWalker Pugs was established in 1994. They are an AKC Breeder of Merit and they show their dogs in both AKC and CKC conformation events. They are currently DNA testing all of their Pugs to rule out carriers of Pug Dog Encephalitis, a potentially fatal genetic condition. They have an application process for their pups and will not ship them, so you need to be local to the Seattle area (or willing to travel).
Top Breeder: Hilltop Rhodesian Ridgebacks
Hilltop Rhodesian Ridgebacks is a hobby breeder in Colorado. They are an AKC Breeder of Merit and have standing with the RRCUS. They compete in conformation, obedience, and barn hunt, and they’ve produced many champions. They are careful about who buys their puppies; the process starts with an online application and is followed by a phone call and an in-person meeting before they can see puppies.
Another Great Option: Omega Rhodesian Ridgebacks
New Hampshire’s Omega Rhodesian Ridgebacks has been involved with the breed since 1986 and breeding since 1991. They have competed in conformation, obedience, agility, and other dog sports. They’ve bred several champions and continue to exhibit their dogs. They have a lot of information on their website about how to best work with the breed, as they’re not for everyone.
Top Breeder: Nighthawk Rottweilers
Nighthawk Rottweilers is located in California and has achieved both Platinum and Bronze designations with the AKC Breeder of Merit program. Their story began in 1982, when they started with their first Rottie, and they’ve gone on to produce dogs who compete in conformation, obedience, agility, Schutzhund, and a variety of other dog sports. They also offer boarding and handling services.
Another Great Option: Stoneridge Rottweilers
Wisconsin’s Stoneridge Rottweilers is an AKC Breeder of Merit. They’ve produced 42 champions (and counting), and they’re active in conformation, obedience, and rally. Their puppies are raised indoors with a loving family, and all breeding stock is health-tested. Puppies are vaccinated, microchipped, vet-checked, and eye-certified. Contact them to see if they’re planning any litters soon.
Top Breeder: Weis Shelties
Weis Shelties, located in Minnesota, is a small hobby breeder with the AKC Breeder of Merit designation. They show their dogs in conformation and have produced many champions. They have both sable and black Shelties, as well as AOAC. This breeder occasionally has puppies, and they are sold with a two-year health guarantee, first shots, dewclaws removed, and socialization skills.
Another Great Option: KM Shelties
KM Shelties is located in Michigan and is another AKC Breeder of Merit. They show their dogs in conformation and agility, and they produce pups who tend to be good agility candidates. All breeding stock are DNA tested for genetic defects, and puppies are sold with microchips, dew claws removed, and first vaccines. They’re careful to socialize and train their pups even before they go to their forever homes.
Top Breeder: Hi-Jinx Shiba Inus
Hi-Jinx Shiba Inu, located in Wisconsin, uses both American-bred and Japanese-imported dogs in their breeding program. They’ve bred many champions and strive to maintain a good temperament with their dogs. Puppies have gone on to succeed not only in conformation but also in obedience, rally, barn hunt, and agility. Contact them to see if they have puppies available.
Another Great Option: Marma Farms
Marma Farms is located in Georgia. While they got their start in the dog show world in 1971, they didn’t begin breeding Shibas until 2003. They were one of the original 50 AKC Breeders of Merit. All breeding stock is checked for eye, hip, and knee problems, and puppies come with a three-year health guarantee. They screen potential homes carefully and have waiting lists for qualified buyers.
Top Breeder: Amitzu Shih Tzu
California’s Amitzu Shih Tzus is a small hobby breeder. They keep a small number of dogs, and they only breed when they have an excellent pairing in mind, so puppies are available occasionally. They’ve bred many champions over the years. Puppies are sold on a spay/neuter contract; they cannot be bred. They also carefully screen homes to approve potential puppy-buyers in advance.
Another Great Option: Olive’s Grove Shih Tzu
Olive’s Grove Shih Tzu, located in Georgia, is an AKC Breeder of Merit. They got their first Shih Tzu in the mid-1980s, and they’ve stuck with this breed ever since. They are active in both conformation and agility, and they’ve bred and handled many champions. They have puppies and older dogs available occasionally, and they screen buyers to make sure they’d be a good fit for one of their dogs.
Top Breeder: Mirage Siberians
Mirage Siberians, based in Texas, is an AKC Breeder of Merit. They are active in the conformation ring and have bred many champions, and they have also dabbled in obedience and agility. Health is very important to them, and they test for various defects. They have puppies occasionally. There’s a puppy application on their website, and they also suggest contacting them to find out their process for screening families and placing pups.
Another Great Option: Karnovanda Kennels
Michigan-based Karnovanda Kennels was established in 1959, and they’ve bred over 400 champions and some grand champions over the years. They were named breeder of the year in 2003, 2004, and 2005 by the Siberian Husky Club of America. They breed their dogs occasionally and generally have a waiting list for puppies. Pups are socialized and paper-trained when they go to their new homes.
Top Breeder: Mitchell Vizslas
Mitchell Vizslas, located in Illinois, is an AKC Breeder of Merit who takes pride in producing high-quality, healthy, athletic dogs. All of their dogs have their hips and eyes checked, and they have puppies available occasionally. All puppies come with a health guarantee and are well socialized, and potential buyers are screened over the phone.
Another Great Option: Sokoldalu Vizslas
Sokoldalu Vizslas is a Washington-based AKC Breeder of Merit and a member of the Vizsla Club of America. They compete in conformation, obedience, agility, and hunting events, and their goal is to improve the breed by adhering to the breed standard. All dogs are checked for genetic defects, and puppies come with a health guarantee. They carefully match puppies to potential owners to ensure a good fit.
Top Breeder: Starwood Weimaraners
Starwood Weimaraners, located in Massachusetts, is an AKC Breeder of Merit that has produced many champion Weimaraners. They’ve been involved with the breed since 1995 and have competed avidly in the conformation ring. They keep in touch with the people who buy their puppies and feature the growing dogs on their blog. Contact them to see when they might have puppies available.
Another Great Option: Harbor West Weimaraners
Maryland’s Harbor West Weimaraners is a small breeder that produces approximately one litter every two years. They are an AKC Breeder of Merit, and they compete in conformation, field trials, agility trials, obedience trials, and tracking tests. Since they breed infrequently, always for the betterment of the breed, they might not have puppies or a litter planned, but they’re still a good resource for information.
West Highland White Terrier
Top Breeder: Czarcrest Westies
Indiana’s Czarcrest Westies is an AKC Breeder of Merit. They’re a small hobby breeder who has bred almost 60 champions as well as dogs that are titled in other sports, including agility. They breed sparingly, usually two to three litters per year, and they only do so in an effort to improve the breed. They spend a lot of time educating new owners and staying in contact to help with training and other issues.
Another Great Option: Margie Munro West Highland White Terriers
Margie Munro West Highland White Terriers, located in Kansas, is an AKC Breeder of Merit who has been involved with the breed for over 40 years. They produce excellent pets who also do well in the show ring and other events. Health is one of their primary concerns, so they take care to ensure their dogs are free from genetic defects. They meet all puppy buyers in person and do not ship pups.
Top Breeder: Dynamo Yorkshire Terriers
Virginia-based Dynamo Yorkshire Terriers is a small hobby breeder producing champion Yorkies for the past 30 years. They breed puppies occasionally and are diligent about preserving the health and integrity of the breed. They’re an AKC Breeder of Merit as well as members of both local and national breed clubs. They prefer to meet puppy-buyers and do not ship puppies.
Another Great Option: Artistry Yorkshire Terriers
Artistry Yorkshire Terriers, located in Michigan, are the breeders of the top Yorkie in the USA. Their puppies are bred for health, structure, and temperament, and they breed only dogs who have completed their AKC championship. They offer a lot of help to their puppy-buyers and are available to discuss training, health, grooming, and various troubleshooting, should issues arise.
Final Tips on Choosing a Dog Breeder
While this is a great place to start your search, it is by no means an exhaustive list of the most responsible breeders in the country. If the breeders listed here aren’t local to you or if you are looking for a less popular breed, use the veterinarian tips above to find your perfect pup. Just remember to ask questions and if you don’t feel that someone is reputable, then keep looking.
Once you settle on a breeder and take your puppy home, you’ll want to check out our resources on keeping your puppy happy and healthy.
One set of guides is our collection of buying guides which can help you find a great waterproof dog bed with a canopy, outdoor dog bed with a canopy, elevated dog bed with stairs, or a couch dog bed.
You can also check out our dog size predictor, dog growth charts including our goldendoodle chart, great dane chart, chihuahua chart, labrador chart, and golden retriever chart (and our general overview of the how much your dog should weigh), buying guides for important products like the best escape proof dog harness (read our review of escape proof dog harness as well) and our list of human food dogs can and can’t eat and our article on how long it takes for a dog to digest food.
Beyond that, if you’re looking for additional resources to help keep your puppy healthy and looking good we also have a series of buying guides to help you select the best medicated dog ear cleaner, the best professional dog clipper, the best dog clipper for poodle hair, and our guide to finding the best Australian Shepherd dog brush.