Looking For a Puppy?
The point of this page is to help responsible owners also be responsible buyers.
Irresponsible breeders exist simply because people chose to buy those puppies.
Millions of unwanted dogs that were bred on purpose are euthanized.
Please visit your local animal shelter or talk to a volunteer at a rescue organization if you do not feel there is a problem.
When you buy a puppy, you share responsibility.
Too many people shop for a puppy when they should be shopping for a breeder.
Any puppy has the potential to be a nice pet for the right home. It is the quality of the breeder that you are paying for, not so much the quality of the puppy.
If you are considering paying money for a puppy, I encourage you to take the time to read and consider everything that follows on this page.
Thank you to those who do.
What is a breed?
A “breed” is a genetically pure line that has a common origin.
Said dogs are called “purebred.”
A breed has similar conformation and characteristics. When bred together they reliably produce offspring with those same conformation and characteristics i.e. when two Siberians are bred together we get a litter of Siberians, not Labradors.
Each breed was created for a purpose, a specific task, or with a particular goal in mind.
For example, there are dogs that are bred to pull, hunt, herd, retrieve, guard, assist, search, or rescue, while others are bred simply to be a manageable companion.
The “breed standard” is the ideal or perfect animal of that breed. The breed standard is simply a description of what the dog should look like, how it should act, and it includes temperament and health.
Thus the standard is what any breeder should aim to produce when claiming to sell that breed.
In other words, a breeder who advertises “AKC Siberian huskies” should breed to the AKC standard for the Siberian husky.
The standard for each breed recognized by the AKC is published in their book, The Complete Dog Book, 20th Edition, Official Publication of the American Kennel Club
Each breed recognized by the AKC also has a national club, parent to the AKC. The breed standard for the Siberian husky is also published on the parent club website:
Today, for the many breeds whose original function no longer exists, there are activities or competitions that simulate the original function in which a breeder can engage. A breeder may be selective by breeding from the dogs that perform well.
This is the point of breed clubs, competitions, dog shows, and putting titles on dogs.
The breeders who don’t do those things…well, they are undoing work that took hundreds of generations of selective breeding to perfect (the traits that make the breed distinct from other breeds and the generic dog) and the dogs they are selling offer nothing that the millions of dogs in need of rescue can also offer.
What’s so great about purebreds?
Dogs are wonderful.
But a dog placed in the wrong home does not stay there.
All puppies are cute but all puppies are going to grow up to be what may be not-so-cute adults.
Purebreds make sense because the breeder can practically guarantee the buyer what that cute puppy will grow up to be or what it will look like and act like.
This makes it easier for the breeder to find the right home for the pups she is not keeping for herself.
This makes it more likely that a buyer will select a puppy that will work out, instead of being re-homed or dumped at the shelter because the dog didn’t work out.
What about crossbred or mixed-breed dogs?
A crossbred dog has two breeds behind him. A mix-bred has three or more.
A “Designer Dog” is just a glorified cross or mutt.
There is nothing wrong with a well-bred mix or cross.
Lots of “breeds” of sled dogs are in fact mixes or crosses.
Many purebreds today originate from mixes or crosses.
No different from purebreds, there should be a goal in mind, a point, or desired function for the dog, generally something not already offered by current breeds (because why reinvent the wheel?) or the millions of dogs in need of rescue.
Unless a breeder has a reliable line, it can be uncertain as to what a cross or mix will grow up to be or what he will grow up to look like, act like, or other traits that he will grow up to possess.
There are many folks who think that a cross or mix is “healthier” than a purebred simply because of the theory of hybrid vigor, which is utterly false.
What is Hybrid Vigor?
The short answer:
A hybrid is the offspring of two parents of unlike genetic makeup.
“Hybrid Vigor” is a theory of the increased vigor or other superior qualities that may result in hybrids.
Hybrid vigor is also known as “heterosis” or “outbreeding enhancement.”
The long-winded answer:
A purebred is limited to the genes that make him unique from other breeds.
This is why you will not get a Dalmatian when you breed a Poodle to another Poodle, no matter how many times you try.
It is only a surprisingly small percentage of genes that make each breed unique from others or in other words, regardless of breed all dogs, including wolves, have largely similar genotype.
However, the theory of hybrid vigor can certainly apply to dogs because similar as they may be the genotype is not all the same. That small difference in genome is the difference between a Doberman Pinscher and a Pekinese.
Breeders use hybrid vigor to their advantage quite regularly in the form of outcrossing or breeding to a separate unrelated line.
Hybrid vigor can only occur when outcrossing or crossing two separate unrelated lines. Outcross after outcross hybrid vigor decreases after each outcross.
Hybrid vigor is greater when both lines that are crossed together are individually linebred.
So a crossbred doesn’t necessarily have hybrid vigor.
And it is certainly possible for a purebred to have hybrid vigor.
With crosses now you are dealing with two breeds and the genetic issues behind each, some of which may indeed stand behind either line.
The genetic health issues that stand behind a purebred do not simply go away when crossed with another breed. Neither do other traits, good or bad, that stand behind the parents.
Try to think of it this way:
You are more likely to roll a three with a die that has six faces than you are with a die that has twelve.
The die with twelve faces has more possibilities to roll hence the odds of rolling that three are lower, but the possibility of rolling a three is still there.
And regarding the die with 12 faces, now you have 12 possibilities rather than just 6.
That is why it is so important to clear purebred breeding stock of genetic disorders common with the breed.
And that is why cross or mix stock should be screened for disorders common with each of the breeds that stand behind them.
In conclusion, no line or breeding program is free of health issues.
However, breeders who selectively breed to cull out genetic health issues (from their breeding program) for generations have lower odds of producing dogs (purebred or not) that will present with genetic health issues. And such purebreds are indeed “more healthy” than crosses or mixes or these popular over glorified “designer dogs” when the latter originate from purebreds that were not selectively bred in such a manner.
Breeding dogs is, after all, all about odds.
It makes sense to stack them in your favor.
Have you researched the breed?
Each breed is prone to a certain general temperament or behavior traits.
Consider that a breed that is a wonderful for one household may not be that great for your household.
Many purebred dogs end up not remaining with their owner because the dog did not live up to the owner’s fantasy of the breed, perhaps a false image that a Hollywood movie or fictional book may have depicted.
Many people choose a breed based simply on what it looks like instead of how the breed acts like or what its needs will entail.
A dog bought by the wrong home does not stay there.
A dog is a commitment because they live for many years. It is not uncommon for Siberians to live up to 15 years.
For information about the Siberian husky breed, please read my page The Siberian Husky.
Are you going to rescue or buy from a breeder?
There are many reasons to rescue and there are many reasons why you should raise a puppy instead.
So whether you want to rescue a dog or buy a puppy should be a very personal decision.
The best thing for everyone (you, your family, and the dog) is to choose a dog that you think will actually work out.
YOU will be the one responsible for the dog. Not anyone else!
Adult dogs or older puppies are already set in their habits, good or bad, from previous training or socialization or lack thereof. You have to work with what you get.
A puppy younger than three months old is more like clay that you can mold. You can imprint upon a puppy younger than three months old. However, a younger puppy only has potential. It is up to you to do the work and bring out that potential.
DO NOT RESCUE TO SAVE MONEY
Lots of times that strategy backfires.
Here is a well written article about this decision, by Joanna Kimball:
If you are interested in rescuing an unwanted Siberian husky, the Siberian husky rescue for our area is the Patriot Siberian Husky Rescue of New England
For other areas check out the Siberian Husky Rescue Site
Unless you have decided to rescue from a legitimate rescue or shelter organization, you should buy from a reputable breeder.
Pet stores and other dog dealers get their stock from puppy mills.
What is a dog dealer?
A dog dealer is a commercial business that sells puppies on behalf of the breeders that they represent.
Dog dealers are a middle man between the breeder and the buyer.
So the puppies are usually very expensive.
Often the puppies are older than eight weeks old.
Puppy mills don’t like to keep puppies that are older than eight weeks old. They like to sell them by that age. Keeping the pups past that age cost them more money and cuts into profit.
So, some puppy mills sell these pups to a dog dealer. The dog dealer then jacks up the price so they too can make a profit. They claim the high price is because of all the work they do to find a “quality” puppy on your behalf.
A dog dealer is a place where you will not be able to contact the breeder of the puppy, a huge red flag.
NO reputable breeder sells pups through a pet shop or dog dealer.
No reputable breeder sells puppies online to anyone who can click the “buy now” button and enter a credit card number.
If you cannot contact the breeder of the puppy, don’t buy that puppy!
Those who feel, "These puppies need homes too," or feel that you are “rescuing” the puppy from a bad situation or environment:
Supply = Demand.
While you may save that one puppy, several more will suffer for it.
The best thing you can do to help is do not give the seller your money because then eventually they will go out of business.
Sadly many “rescue” organizations today are commercial business profiting from the surplus of commercial breeders…true rescues are places that are desperately trying to put themselves OUT of business.
There are NO regulations which enforce a breeder to be ethical or responsible.
Therefore, we have two kinds of breeders:
“Reputable” breeders and breeders who are not reputable
EVERY breeder thinks she is reputable! All the same, many ARE NOT.
The breeders who are not reputable fall into one of the two categories that have been labeled by the society of dog breeders:
“Backyard” breeders and commercial breeders
What is a backyard breeder?
The short answer:
The backyard breeder is an average pet owner who breeds from her dog.
The long-winded answer:
The backyard breeder does not do anything with her dogs.
The dogs are average pets.
The backyard breeder isn’t always interested in profit from selling puppies so commonly the puppies are only a few hundred dollars.
The backyard breeder usually believes that it is the buyers “right” to decide whether they want to spay/neuter or breed from the dog. So she typically sells the pups (if they are purebred) with full AKC papers. Or she otherwise sells the puppies with “breeding rights” or with no spay/neuter agreement, perpetuating backyard or commercial breeding.
The backyard breeder is often ignorant of or conveniently opposed to proper breeding practices.
The breed standard is not regarded. Selective breeding is not practiced.
The backyard breeder often has owned only a few specimens of the breed therefore she is ignorantly misinformed about the breed or she has a limited perspective to go by, ignorantly perpetuating misinformation and poor examples of the breed.
The backyard breeder does not screen the parents for the genetic health issues common in the breed. She does not breed from dogs that come from generations of screened dogs, ignorantly perpetuating genetic health issues in the breed.
A backyard breeder sells dogs “as is” and from then on the dog is the buyer’s problem. Or in spite of all her promises she concludes that the problem is the buyer’s fault therefore decides that she will not be responsible for it. And when the buyer cannot deal with the problem on his own or if the buyer cannot find another home that can and will, the next stop for that dog is the local animal shelter.
Rare is the backyard breeder who simply has an unplanned or accidental litter. The vast majority of puppies for sale were produced on purpose.
Finally, the backyard breeder does not seek the advice of a breeder who is involved with the breed beyond owning it and selling puppies.
She wants you to leave her alone and mind your own business unless you are interested in buying one of the puppies.
Here is a perfect article about this:
In conclusion, the backyard breeder’s reason for breeding is not for the integrity of the breed or the reasons why a buyer selects a particular breed i.e. the things that distinguish the breed from other breeds and the generic dog.
Instead the reasons are sentimental. A backyard breeder lacks the ability to be objective because the dog is a beloved family pet.
Her dogs offer nothing that the millions in need of rescue can also offer.
In the highly unlikely case that the bitch comes from a quality line, in order to perpetuate that quality, proper selective breeding must be practiced by the breeder, which is not the case of someone keeping the dogs ONLY as pets.
Commercial breeders often start out as a backyard breeder!
When a backyard breeder sees a profit on the litter that pays her IPhone bill for the next six months, she usually decides to plan more of them on a regular basis!
What is a commercial breeder?
The short answer:
Most commercial breeders are glorified backyard breeders.
A commercial breeding program is for the purpose of making money from selling the puppies on a regular basis.
A commercial breeder can have a few dogs that are part of the family or several dozen that are neglected.
Commercial breeders are also called “puppy mills” or “puppy farms.”
The long-winded answer:
“Puppy mill” and “backyard breeder” are labels commonly applied to the same type of breeder…due to the fact that most backyard breeders (though they may not operate on an industrial scale) ARE indeed commercial.
The difference between a commercial breeder and a reputable breeder is usually misunderstood because both are making income from selling puppies.
A commercial breeder makes income that does not need to go back into the kennel (i.e. profit) and a reputable breeder usually does not…NOT because it is unethical to make a profit, simply because it is not realistic!
While income from selling puppies undoubtedly helps tremendously, a breeder must have another source of income to pay the kennel bills besides selling puppies to carry out a breeding program that actually produces well-bred puppies because most people will not pay thousands of dollars for a regular pet dog.
Like any commercial business, when a commercial breeder cannot sustain a profit she consequently goes out of business.
And to make a profit, vast corners on quality—on what should be done with the parents—must be cut.
And so it is.
A commercial breeder can make money selling puppies because she doesn’t do anything with her dogs. She doesn’t show, compete, or work her dogs. The dogs are ONLY average house pets, or if kenneled, kept for the sake of breeding.
Showing, competing, or working the dogs eliminates the profit she would otherwise make.
Industrial scale commercial breeders also sacrifice the welfare of the parents or the puppies to further maximize profit. This is where that puppy sold at a pet store or online that you can buy with a credit card and have delivered to you comes from!
Furthermore, ALL of a commercial breeder’s stock produces puppies if they can, generally over and over each year.
And she regularly sells ALL of the puppies in the litter because she bred them to sell them. So you will see phrases like “first pick” or “pick of the litter” advertised for sale.
Reputable breeders regularly KEEP at least one puppy from the breeding. And a lot of their breeding stock ends up not making the cut thus does not produce puppies at all, also known as selective breeding.
So a commercial breeder operates with very low overhead.
Otherwise she cannot remain in business!
In conclusion, a respectable breeding program cannot be a commercial business.
Until the day when most buyers are willing to drop thousands of dollars for a well-bred pet dog, the reality is that we will continue to see lots of commercial and backyard breeding because so long as there is a demand for cheaper puppies there will be a supply.
Here is a good article by Joanna Kimball:
Commercial or backyard breeders ALWAYS claim that they “care” where their puppies go.
Breeders who actually “care” where their puppies go take their puppies back.
So there is no excuse for the millions of unwanted dogs that were produced on purpose that were not given back to the breeder!
It is good that there are commercial and backyard breeders who do take wonderful care of the dogs that they keep. And it is great that you are planning to take good care of the puppy that you buy.
What about the fate of the other puppies in the litter?
What about the fate of the several dozen or hundreds of other puppies that may have already been sold?
What about the dozens more puppies that will most likely be sold in the future because you have shown the breeder that there is a market for her puppies when you gave her your money with which she was able to pay her electric bill for the next month or two, therefore giving her a very good incentive to breed again??
The answer is at your local animal shelter.
Clearly many breeders do not care at all where their puppies go.
What are the red-flags of a breeder to avoid?
-A breeder who needs to advertise that she is not a puppy mill.
Or a place that advertises that they do not support puppy mills, or any other sort of “no-puppy-mill guarantee”
-A breeder who advertises, "Our females are only bred once a year."
- A breeder who sells puppies online to anyone who can click the “buy now” button and enter a credit card number.
- A breeder who sells puppies to pet homes with “unlimited” AKC papers or “breeding rights” to anyone who can pay, simply leaving the choice to breed from or to spay/neuter the dog up to the buyer.
Such a breeder perpetuates irresponsible breeding.
- A breeder who does not use a written contract.
-A breeder who sells purebreds that are registered with anything other than these legitimate kennel clubs:
The American Kennel Club
The United Kennel Club
The Canadian Kennel Club
- A breeder who advertises that she is a licensed “breeding kennel" or USDA-licensed breeder.
USDA-licensed breeder is code for commercial breeder.
In the state of Maine, anyone who keeps 5 or more female dogs capable of breeding, and who sells puppies, not including a kennel were those dogs are kept primarily for hunting, show, training, sledding, competition, etc. where not more than 16 puppies are sold a year, is required to be licensed as a “breeding kennel.”
That means “breeding kennel” is code for commercial breeder in the state of Maine.
-A breeder who advertises that she breeds “pet quality”
In breeder circles, “pet quality” means that the dog is not working or show quality therefore that dog is better suited for a pet or recreational home instead of a working or show home.
Not that a reputable breeder never produces a pet quality specimen however she does not deliberately produce them because working or show quality dogs can be pets or recreational dogs too.
In fact most of the pups that a working or show home sells become nothing more than someone’s beloved spayed or neutered pet in spite of the potential those pups have to be working, show, or breeding quality dogs.
-A breeder advertising that she has for sale anything "rare” or nonstandard or a breeder who charges more money for a rare or nonstandard trait.
Siberian huskies cannot have green eyes. All Siberian pups are born with blue eyes which may stay blue or change to brown or amber (red huskies have amber eyes instead of brown).
Eyes may appear green before they change to brown.
There are no “miniature” Siberian huskies.
See The Siberian Husky Club of America’s Statement on Miniature Siberians to learn more.
There is no such thing as a "merle" Siberian husky.
Merle Siberians are often mislabeled thus falsely registered with the AKC as “piebald.” (Somewhere in the line is another breed that carries the merle gene thus they should not be eligible for AKC registration because they are no longer purebred)
Check out The Siberian Husky Club of America’s Statement on Merle Siberians to learn more.
A “wooly” coat (a long and soft coat) is a fault in the breed standard.
A wooly coat is a fault because the coat is undesirable and even dangerous for the working Siberian husky sled dog. A reputable breeder will not breed from a wooly coated Siberian simply because the trait is recessive.
So a big clue for buyers:
If one of the parents of a planned litter is a wooly coated AKC Siberian, then the breeder is a commercial or backyard breeder.
- A breeder who advertises puppies from planned litters as “for adoption.”
Yes you are technically adopting the dog however “adopting” a dog is not to be mistaken for “rescuing” a dog.
These puppies were produced on purpose. They are for sale and they are NOT rescues.
Here is a good article about this by Joanna Kimball:
- A breeder who advertises that she ships or transports puppies.
-A breeder who makes buyers select their puppy in the litter before they are 6 weeks old.
Placing a deposit to hold a puppy in the litter is one thing. Placing a deposit on one in particular is another.
A reputable breeder may let a buyer place a deposit on a particular pup, but they do not require this.
True temperaments don’t start to come out until the puppies are around 6-7 weeks old. That’s why puppies are not temperament tested before that age.
Not to mention the pups are usually still too young for the breeder to decide which one she is keeping.
- A breeder who advertises that she has several litters a year to
pay for keeping the several dogs that she owns.
This is an ironic excuse commercial breeders advertise to justify their breeding program: Having several litters a year is why they own several dogs in the first place!
See above under “What is a commercial breeder?”
Also see my page Why Puppies Cost So Much
What is a reputable breeder?
A reputable breeder does something with her dogs beyond owning and breeding them.
The parents of the litter come from a lineage of dogs that are accomplished in some type of sanctioned activity, competition, or employment, and her dogs are bred for that purpose.
Pets are simply a bi-product.
She brags about the accomplishments of her stock, besides their wonderful temperaments and ability to produce cute beautiful puppies.
It should be obvious from the pictures on the webpage that the kennel does something besides just owning the parents and selling puppies.
A reputable breeder is dedicated to the breed as a whole and not only to her own dogs.
Above all, a reputable breeder is responsible. No matter what she may sell or how she may breed she stands by the dogs she had bred for their entire lives and she will compensate you when she does not deliver to you what she promised.
Here are the signs of a reputable breeder:
-A breeder who is a member of a breed club or some type of club devoted to what the dogs are bred for.
- A breeder who breeds from dogs with proper health clearances.
No line or breeding program is free of genetic issues.
Puppy buyers can check out this page of the Siberian Husky Club of America site to learn more:
- A breeder who sells pups with a health guarantee
Obviously, no breeder can absolutely promise that a puppy will grow up to be healthy.
But she can and should promise a reimbursement or other remedy for particular health issues.
Reputable breeders stand by what they sell like this.
A health guarantee is the only thing that can protect you as the buyer.
A health certificate from a veterinarian alone cannot.
- A breeder who sells a dog with a written contract.
A contract states the terms of sale:
Is the pup being sold as a pet? As breeding stock? As a show prospect? As a working dog?
What are the expectations of the breeder or the buyer?
- A breeder who will take back a dog that she bred at any time during its life when the owner no longer wants it, no matter the reason.
The breeders I know call this a “return home policy.”
-A breeder who carefully screens potential buyers and who is selective about who buys her puppies.
-A breeder who sells pet puppies with limited AKC registration or a spay/neuter agreement.
- A breeder who encourages buyers to keep in touch.
A reputable breeder likes to know how her dogs are doing until the day they die and she likes to see how those dogs turned out to better evaluate the breeding.
-A breeder who will answer your questions no matter how stupid or provide you with information or advice.
-A breeder who will give referrals when she has nothing available for you or when asked to do so.
She probably knows and works with other kennels in her area, perhaps other kennels that have stock from her, or kennels from where her own stock originates.
How to search for a reputable breeder in your area:
You can use a search engine to browse the internet.
For example if you live in Maine and you are looking for a Siberian husky puppy, you can search “Siberian husky puppies for sale in Maine” or “Siberian husky breeders in Maine.”
Or you can search nearby states that are within driving distance.
…Beware that if you search this way you may come across dog dealers or listings that consist of mostly commercial or backyard breeders. And you may not come across any reputable breeders in your area.
So I highly recommend starting your search by looking at the breed’s national club breeder referral instead.
All AKC breeds have a national breed club known as a parent club.
The parent club for the Siberian husky is the Siberian Husky Club of America (SHCA).
The best way to shop for a reputable Siberian husky breeder in your area is to start with a breeder in your state or local states who is listed with the breed's parent club breeder referral:
Breeder Referral Directory of the SHCA
Or look for a breeder listed with the breeder-referral of the breed’s regional or local clubs.
Not all the reputable breeders in your area will be listed with the parent club or regional clubs however reputable breeders know and work with other reputable breeders in the area.
Once you find one reputable breeder it is very easy to find others! Just ask!
Or see if she has a website with a page where she has listed the contacts or links to websites of other breeders that she knows or works with. Maybe some of these breeders are also local.
For example, check out our Links page for the links to the websites of the breeders that we know or work with. Then see if those websites have links, or just ask them.
One last note:
There are FAR more responsible homes looking for a puppy than there are available puppies from responsible breeders.
Please prepare to be very, very, very patient, especially if you insist on particular colors, markings, recessive, or nonstandard traits, or combination thereof.
You should expect to pay $900-$1500 dollars for a Siberian husky puppy from a reputable breeder in our area.
A puppy from a reputable breeder may seem expensive, but you might find it a fair price when you factor in the hours of time over the years that she will spend with you regarding your puppy for its entire life and the other services she provides for her puppies!
Reputable breeders are a network with decades of experience and immeasurable support. Most will bend over backwards for their puppies thus the owners.
You should expect nothing less for your money.
Where to learn more:
The AKC website.