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Where to Get a Puppy

Before you get a puppy, learn how to avoid buying one from a puppy mill

  • Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue will make you and your new dog happy for years to come. iStockphotos

Are you getting a new dog, or thinking about it? We're so excited for you, and we know you'll give your new companion a great, loving home. 

Once you've decided you're ready for a dog, the next big decision is where to find this lifelong family member. You'll want to make sure not to get an animal from a puppy mill, and that's not always easy to recognize.

Sadly, there are some places that seem like great puppy sources that may not be!

But if you follow our top puppy-buying tips, you'll be far more likely to secure a healthy, well-socialized dog who doesn't drain your emotions or your pocketbook. 

Consider adoption first

Adopting a dog who needs a home is one of the best things you'll ever do. Animal shelters and rescue groups often have scores of great dogs, both mixes and 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. The Shelter Pet Project can help you find a great dog or puppy in your area! Read more about adopting a puppy through a shelter or breed rescue group »

Find a responsible breeder and visit the premises

Responsible breeders provide a loving and healthy environment for their canine companions, one that they will be proud to show you. You should never buy a puppy without seeing where the dog and its parents were raised and housed with your own eyes, no matter what papers the breeder has. Be aware: AKC and other types of registration papers only tell you who a puppy's parents were, not how his parents were treated. Read more on how to find a responsible dog breeder »

Don't get a puppy from a pet store

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 »

Don't believe promises that puppies are "home raised" or "family raised"

Many puppy millers pose as small family breeders online and in newspaper and magazine ads. The HSUS has often helped local authorities in the rescue of puppy mill dogs. In almost all cases, the puppy mills sold puppies via the Internet using legitimate-looking ads or websites that made it look like the dogs came from somewhere happy and beautiful, claims that couldn't have been farther from the truth.

Avoid the temptation to "rescue" a puppy mill dog by buying him

Unfortunately, that just opens up space for another puppy mill puppy and puts money into the pockets of the puppy mill industry. The money you spend goes right back to the puppy mill operator, ensuring they will continue breeding and treating dogs inhumanely. If you see someone keeping puppies in poor conditions, alert your local animal control authorities instead of buying the animal.

Do your part: Pledge to help stop puppy mills!

Choose not to buy your next pet from a pet store or Internet site, and refuse to buy supplies from any pet store or Internet site that sells puppies. Pledge to stop puppy mills »

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  • Want to help dogs? Pledge not to support puppy mills. Sign the pledge

Looking for a pet?

Find your perfect match at a local shelter.

Shelter Pet Project
can help.