A Reputable Breeder...
Screens their dogs for genetic problems, health checks should be listed on the OFFA/CERF or other comparable official web sites. They should be able to tell you about genetic problems in the breed. Do not buy from a breeder that does not do health checks or says their dogs are genetically health so they don't need to do health checks, there is no such thing! The breeder should provide copies of the parents official health clearances as provided by the OFA/CERF, etc....Should have AKC DNA profiles on their breeding stock to ensure that you are getting what you are paying for a pure bred dog out of registered stock.
Does not breed dogs "to make money" or so "our children can experience the miracle of birth." A reputable breeder Usually only breeds a litter if they intend on keeping something out of the litter. They are breeding to further improve their breeding program, not just supply puppies for pet/show buyers. Dedicates themselves to one breed in most cases and does not have a paypal link on their site so you can purchase puppies by credit/debit card!!! A reputable does NOT charge $1,200 - $3,000 or more for a PET puppy, this shows their ONLY concern is exploiting the breed for a profit. Paying more money for a puppy does not quarantine you a better quality or healthier puppy!!!
Should be able to explain the reasoning behind breeding a particular dog to a particular bitch. They should be attempting to reach perfection as defined by the breed's standard. In the attempt to reach this goal with the resulting puppies, they should be able to explain the good points of each dog and what things they are trying to improve. If they don't know what the standard is, they shouldn't be breeding dogs. Will tell you the good points as well as the bad points of the breed. They want to make sure you are fully aware of what to expect before you buy the puppy. Cute little puppies grow into big dogs.
Should be able to provide you with a pedigree of the puppies, not just a copy of the parents' registration papers. A pedigree usually has at least three generations of the puppies' ancestors listed. Breeds ONLY from AKC Reg. parents if the breeder is in the US, CKC Reg. if in Canada, FCI Reg. if in Europe. Provides a WRITTEN Health contract, this does not mean that something could never happen, it does say that you as a breeder are willing to stand behind your puppies/dogs if something should happen!!!! If the breeder is not willing to give you a WRITTEN Health contract then there is nothing that says that stand behind what they breed.
Does not breed a volume of puppies. A breeder with multiple adult bitches is not going to breed all of them in a single year. Females are only in very rare cases bred on consecutive heat cycles. A Reputable breeder does not have multiple litters on the ground at one time and they do not breed more then one or two litters per year, many years they may not have a litter at all! They do not let you pick your puppy at birth, it takes time to look at each puppy for quality and temperament to make sure each go to the right home!
Usually participates in some sort of dog related events such as dog shows, obedience, agility, weight pulls, sled dog racing, herding, field trials, etc. They do something with their dogs. They invest time and money in their dogs earning TITLES, not just saying their dogs have a champion pedigree or a working pedigree. Titles are earned by each dog and shows nothing of the quality of the dogs come down 3, 5 generations or more in a pedigree.
Usually belong to some sort of dog club (i.e., all-breed club, obedience club, National breed club, etc). Being A Member of a Breed Club or having Champion dogs does NOT make you a RESPONSIBLE Breeder!!! Do your research before you buy a puppy!!!!! ALL Breeding dogs should have health clearances weather they are champions or not and they should be listed on the OFA/CERF web site!
May ask you for references or ask to visit you at your home. The breeder wants to be sure that the housing or yard is suitable for the dog. A large dog wouldn't necessarily do well in a small apartment. Some breeds need to have a fenced yard with secure fencing for their own protection. The breeder is looking for the ideal situation for the puppy. They want the owner to be happy and not return the puppy because it was ill-suited for the environment or life-style of the buyer. A responsible breeder will take their dog/puppies back or help re-home them if you can not keep them!
Will usually insist puppies sold as pets be spayed/neutered and placed on an AKC limited (Non Breeding) registration. The limited registration makes the dog exempt from having any offspring registered by the AKC. Limited registration does not prevent dogs from being show in companion (obedience, agility, Rally etc.) events, there is NO reason for anyone to have a full/breeding registration on a dog going to a PET home. The breeder may require proof of the spay/neuter before papers are given for registration, this should be stated up front in the contract. A responsible breeder will not place a puppy with breeding right for more money to a pet/non-show home.
Will usually take back any dog of their breeding at any age. Reputable breeders do not want to find a dog they have bred left in a shelter, rescue, or dumped by the roadside. They assume a lifetime responsibility for the canine lives they have put on this earth. Would never sell puppies through a retail outlet, animal broker, or laboratory. They will have shot records, etc... for the Vet. treatment that has been given to the puppies prior to leaving to their new homes and not just a hand written list of what they say they have done.
Reputable breeders support breed rescue in some form or another, moving dogs, fundraising, fostering, etc.....