Tips On Selecting a Dog Breeder
Contributed by Jamie of

I am a professional Cockapoo breeder. I raise Cockapoo puppies full-time and dedicate myself 7 days a week, 24 hours a day to raising my babies, caring for their parents, and meeting the needs and desires of my customers so, needless to say, I am a busy person and have a lot of experience in the field.

I recently read a book called “The Complete Cockapoo Owner’s Handbook” by Edward Sweet at Cockapoo Crazy and I told him that I enjoyed the book, and agreed with most of it, but thought the “Finding a Cockapoo Breeder” section could use some changes and/or improvement. He wrote back that I should consider writing an article on my thoughts and experiences, so here I am!

I am in my 30’s and have had animals my entire life. I have pictures of myself holding newborn puppies when I was in pre-school, so you could almost say animals are in my blood. I am passionate about them and my life would be empty without them. I’ve grown up with puppies at my side, so I have a lot of experience in the field, and have raised Cockapoos for a very long time. Cockapoos are an excellent breed, they are beautiful, cuddly, smart, friendly, and just all around great ‘people dogs.’ I wouldn’t choose to breed anything other than them anymore in my lifetime.

Most of the time I create my own future breeding parents by breeding a set of Cocker Spaniels that I own or a set of Poodles, whichever I want at the time. I do it this way because I know their health history, genetics, background, and personalities of the parents I am breeding and am confident that their puppies will be suitable for future litters of Cockapoos. Once in a great while I do buy from outside breeders to get other lines and colors, and I have seen a plethora of different types of breeders out there, some very good, some very bad, and some are flat out puppy mills. I feel it is extremely important for people to know the difference between them to make a proper decision about who they are going to adopt a puppy from. The following is based on my own personal thoughts, experiences, and opinions. I do not mean to offend or insult anyone, so please don’t take it that way at all.

My first suggestion when looking for a breeder is to look at their website if they have one. I have personally spent countless hours working on my website, I try to fill it with a ton of information on me, my Cockapoos, photos, and even have a “Frequently Asked Question” sheet to try to help out my customers as much as possible. When I am looking to buy a dog from someone, if they have a poorly written website, bad spelling, blurry photos, and lack of information, that is a turn-off for me. One other huge thing I look for is how many different types of breeds they raise. If they offer multiple breeds, that throws up a red flag for me, because often times people will mix and breed everything and anything just to make a buck. I can understand one or two different types of dogs, but when it gets excessive I walk away.

I also look for their location. Some states, like Missouri and Pennsylvania (among others), are notorious for being “puppy mill states,” and this does not mean that everyone breeding there is a puppy mill, but the chances are higher that they could be, so do your homework. If the breeder has a bad website with multiple breeds, and are located in known puppy mill areas, that is too many red flags for me. Avoid purchasing an animal from a pet store unless they are adopting out animals from local shelters. The majority of pet stores out there directly selling dogs are supplied by puppy mills.

I have a very good friend who helped a lady start a pet store in New Jersey, and she ended up quitting her job when the owner decided to get puppies through a puppy mill. She said every Monday a big truck would roll into the parking lot, full of caged puppies, and drop off whatever they needed to fill the store. They had no information about the care of the animals, where they came from, what breeds they actually were, and the employees were expected to sell them as if they were home-raised puppies. If you are not aware of what a ‘puppy mill‘ is please do your research so that you are educated on their horrible treatment of animals and don’t accidentally support their practices. I also suggest avoiding websites that are a third-party middle-man selling puppies for others. A lot of them claim to have the best breeders with the best puppies available, and that they have done their research on where the puppies are coming from, but I then ask myself, “if they are the best breeders with the best puppies, why aren’t they selling their puppies themselves?” A lot of those sites have jacked up the prices and end up with puppies that are much older than usual, sitting and waiting for homes, and who knows what type of conditions they are currently living in?

When looking for a puppy I also look at price. If a dog is listed at a very cheap price I have a problem with that for many reasons. I often get phone calls from people that have been shopping around and they ask me why they can find a Cockapoo puppy in Missouri for $200 and then they look at mine which are $800 and don’t understand why? My answer is you get what you pay for! Raising puppies (the right way) is extremely expensive! First you need to get the parents, which are registered purebreds and can cost a lot of money, you need to buy proper food, pay for vet visits, vaccines, dental care, registrations, testing, etc. Then you need to have a proper area to raise the dogs and their puppies, this again, costs a lot of money. Then when you have puppies you again need to pay for food, vet visits, vaccines, toys, supplies, etc. On top of that you have a business to run, this requires heat, water, electric, websites, advertisements, license fees – I could go on and on and on. If someone is selling you a puppy for little to nothing, I am willing to bet that they are not putting the time or money into properly caring for that dog, and it will cost you in the end. I realize that there are small breeders out there that may just breed once a year or just one time and then be done. Their prices may be lower because they have little input going into it, but again, do your homework on who you are dealing with. A lot of puppy mills sell their dogs for cheap because they simply want to get rid of them and have put little to nothing into caring for them or their parents.

One of the things I did not agree with in the “Cockapoo Handbook” was having to meet the breeder. I am located in Wisconsin, and due to Cockapoos being so popular I have people from all over the U.S. and even other countries adopt from me. This makes it impossible for me to meet all of my customers. If you are within driving distance, then by all means, go and meet the breeder to make sure you are comfortable with them, otherwise call them and ask questions, get to know who you are dealing with and what they are about. You can also ask for references. I can sit and talk with someone all day about my puppies, but that doesn’t mean they will believe what I say, so having a reference sheet available will reaffirm my information and also give them a chance to speak to someone about their experiences with me and their Cockapoo puppy. If I am looking to buy a dog from someone and do not feel comfortable with conversations or lack of responses to my emails then I often do not do business with them. When I am selling my Cockapoo puppies and people call to interview me they may not realize that, I too, am interviewing them! I want to make sure that my puppies are going to good people, will have good homes, and be taken care of properly. So, if I get a bad feeling or don’t get the answers I am looking for, I will choose not to sell to that person, even if they are willing to buy from me.

If you do want to arrange a visit with a breeder, please keep a few important things in mind – the health of the puppies and the requirements of the breeder. I often have people call me that want to come out to visit, and they try to arrange a road trip where they make several stops to various kennels throughout the day to check everyone out and compare puppies, and this is not okay with me! I am very particular about germs and do not want to risk having my puppies exposed to things that can spread from other people’s dogs, and potentially kill my puppies, so I do not allow people who have been to other kennels on the same day to come here. Be sure to tell the breeder if you are visiting other places on the same day you want to come to them. I also have rules about showing my puppies, I prefer that people come to visit their puppies after they have been vaccinated, to again, protect them and my other puppies from germs and viruses. I often have people wanting to come and visit their puppies at a very young age, not realizing that it takes awhile for them to develop into the active puppy they are imagining in their head, and that they can be putting the puppy at  risk. Communicating with your breeder is the best thing you can do, and please understand if they are trying to keep everyone healthy by limiting your visits.

When speaking to someone about a puppy find out if they are the actual breeders and owners of the parents. A lot of puppy mills will breed dogs and have someone else sell their puppies for them. There are people in rural areas that run puppy mills on their farms and then have other people act as the owner and sell their puppies for them at a different location, so that buyers are not aware of where the dog is truly coming from. Ask what the parents are, some Cockapoo breeders create first generation Cockapoos, which is a true cross between a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle, so the parents, in my opinion, should be registered. Other people breed second and third generation Cockapoos, which is breeding a Cockapoo to a Poodle or Cocker Spaniel, so be sure to know what you are getting if registration matters to you. If you want to meet the parents, just ask the breeder if they are there and if you will be able to see them. Please understand that when picking up your puppy to take home, the mother should no longer be with the puppies. Before going home, puppies need to be weaned from mom so that they can stop nursing, eat and drink on their own, and learn to be independent from their mother. It would be very unwise to have puppies in with their mothers up until the day they leave for their new homes. A lot of people often don’t realize that their dad, the stud, doesn’t ever meet his babies, so do not expect him to be in with the puppies either. Studs can be potentially dangerous around puppies, and their main role in the process is to simply make them and move on!

Finally be sure to find out what age your puppy can go home, and what they come with, often times breeders will have this information on their website (I do), but it doesn’t hurt to ask. My puppies come home up to date on their vaccinations, vet checked, de-wormed, and with a health guarantee, this is a general standard for most breeders. If your puppy doesn’t come with vaccinations and a health record to prove it, that is a red flag! If your puppy has not been vet checked and doesn’t come with a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, that is another red flag! If your puppy doesn’t come with any type of health guarantee, again that is another red flag!

Also ask how they are socialized, my puppies are used to every day household sounds, the TV, microwave, dishwasher, vacuum, radio, etc. I have people here constantly, so that they are used to being around kids and strangers. My puppies play in groups together so that they can learn to socialize with other dogs, and I have three kitties that are very willing to show the puppies what cat personalities are all about. You want to be sure that the breeder has put time and effort into your puppy and will do their best to provide you with a happy and healthy baby. I realize I haven’t covered it all, but I hope this has helped some people in making the right decision when choosing a breeder. Please be aware of what puppy mills are and do your best to not support them. Do your homework when choosing a breeder, there are lots of good people out there raising puppies the right way and they deserve your business. Before adopting be sure to ask yourself if you are ready for the commitment of a puppy. They are a lot of work, very similar to having a child, and they require a lot of time, attention, and money, so be sure you are willing to give them all that is necessary.

If you are interested in a Cockapoo, please feel free to view my website at:

I have a lot of information about the breed and am always willing to answer questions, but do me a favor and check out my FAQ page first 🙂 If you are a fan of the Cockapoo also please check out the website They have a ton of great information on the breed as well.

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