How To Find A Dog Breeder or Shelter

Updated July 25, 2021

Welcome to the exciting path to getting a new dog. Please visit all three stages:

  1. Deciding which dog breed to choose
  2. Finding a good breeder or shelter (that’s this one!)
  3. Choosing the best dog from the breeder or shelter

More on dog rescue below.

Choosing Dog Breeders

So you already know which puppy you’re looking for. Now you need to find a good breeder near Adelaide. Read here why we don’t recommend buying a pet shop puppy.

Most people try one of three methods.

1. Word of Mouth

This is always the best way. If you know a few dogs of the same breed, ask the owners if they are happy with their dog. If you don’t know any, go down to dog parks; dog lovers will be more than happy to answer your questions. Questions you may ask include:

  • How has their dog’s health been?
  • Are there any behaviour problems?
  • What was their opinion of the breeder?

Bear in mind not all health and behaviour problems are caused by poor breeding but once you have some information you can do further research.

2. South Australian Canine Association

This is the group to which all registered dog breeders are members. If you follow this link, it will give you a list of local breeders and their contact details.

Don’t be afraid to go interstate if you feel you need more choice. There are similar organisations in other states, and in addition, the pedigree site mentioned in Choosing your puppy has lists of breeders for each breed mentioned.

3. Online

Though less ideal, more and more people find puppies online, either by googling the breed, on social media or via sites like Gumtree. While it is possible to find a good puppy this way, you need to be very careful.

Googling the breed will expose you to many fraudulent websites attempting to trick you into paying them without ever receiving a puppy. You can read my analysis of Cavoodle scam websites here, which gives you some good tips to look for on all similar sites.

Whichever way you find them, once you identify a legitimate breeder, you still need to spend time making sure they are ethical. I have more tips for this below, but in the online space you can find out a lot simply by googling the name of the breeder.

Above all, stay wary, keep your wits about you and avoid anything that seems too good to be true.

Finding A Good Dog Breeder

Try as hard as you can to physically visit the breeders’ premises. When you meet the breeders, we think you can get a reasonably accurate impression. Here’s how:

  • Personal qualities. Are they caring, likeable people? Look for breeders who care where their puppies go. The more of a hard time they give you, the better!
  • Motivation. You want your puppy’s breeders to care just as much about creating happy pets as they do about show ring success.
  • Facilities. Are they clean and well kept?
  • Dogs. Are the adult dogs well-behaved and in good condition? The best guide to your puppy’s health and behaviour is that of their parents. If you can’t see the parents, ask why!
  • Ethics & Disease Screening. Puppies should be vaccinated, wormed, vet checked and only sold after 8 weeks of age. Do the breeders screen for the genetic diseases expected for that breed?
  • Breeding Stock. A positive sign in rare breeds is the presence of imported dogs in your puppy’s pedigree.

Of course, your choice of breeder will also depend on who is likely to have puppies available. On this point our advice is clear. If you like a certain breeder and want their puppies, wait for them. It’s safer to wait than rush into buying a puppy from a source you don’t trust.

Click here for advice if you just can’t find the breed you want.

Poodle Cross Breeds

Finding a Cavoodle, Spoodle, Labradoodle or Schnoodle is different as these are not a registered breed. There are some very good, ethical breeders but beware the presence of puppy farms selling online or to pet shops. Unless you visit the breeders it is very difficult to tell the good from the bad.

Our advice? Only buy this breed if you can visit the breeding establishment and meet the puppy’s parents, just like you would for any breeder. Otherwise, you’ll never know.

Finding Dog Rescue Shelters

First, let me say this. Don’t feel guilty for buying a puppy from a breeder instead of adopting a dog from a shelter. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach. Although shelters do struggle, there is usually enough demand that actual euthanasia of good family-friendly dogs is very low in South Australia.

I have personally both bought and adopted dogs at different stages of my life and so may you.

If you want to rescue a dog, it’s more about choosing the dog than choosing the shelter. You may find yourself repeatedly checking the websites or Facebook pages of all the local or regional shelters and rescues. It’s also often worth the trip out to the larger ones like the Animal Welfare League or RSPCA. A useful site that links to many smaller shelters is PetRescue.

Here I’ve written about some possible problems with adopting older dogs, whether from a breeder or shelter. Whichever way you find a dog, good luck and please ask for more help if you need it. Once you’ve decided on the place, read how to choose your puppy or dog!

Have something to add? Comments (if open) will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here.

17 Replies to “How To Find A Dog Breeder or Shelter”

  1. Hi Andrew
    Just wanted to say thank you for the article, it saved me from heading down the ‘Boutique pets’ path, it looked puppy farm-is to me but your article just confirmed to stay away, so thank you

  2. I have been trying to adopt a small to.medium dig as a companion for over 4years.
    I check every few dayscwithbakl local refuges, however all seem to have large breeds.
    I live in a small duplex unit with not a large garden.
    Also as pensioner I cannot afford the ridiculous prices asked for a pet.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Joy. It’s a common problem- everyone wants small breeds and relatively few appear in shelters these day.

    1. We think that there are, although the situation changes and so I won’t publish any online. You’re welcome to call the clinic or email for recommendations.

  3. We are looking for a spoodle puppy and would like a recommendation for breeders in South Australia please
    We were looking at puppies from Boutique Paws and we are very glad we read your post first. Thankyou

    1. Hi Annie- there may be good breeders in SA but many people need to travel outside of SA. We don’t keep up with who they are I’m sorry.

  4. How and where can I find a breeder in South Australia for a mix Maltpoo. Shihpoo or Maltxshihxpoo. I am willing to be on a wait list!

    1. Hi Dolly. Sadly, we do not know any breeders of Maltese cross puppies. These have all-but-disappeared in favour of Cavalier, Labrador and Cocker Spaniel Poodles crosses.

  5. Hello I am looking for a Retired dog not a puppy. How do I go about putting my name down with a breeder.

    1. Hi- I don’t think there’s a simple way other than going through the list of breeders for your area and contacting each one. You could also see where they advertise (such as Gumtree, Craigslist) and set up an alert for when an ad appears. Sorry, that’s the best I can suggest.

  6. Thanks for the information, it’s a minefield out there, multiple application forms to fill in, only to be disappointed you weren’t successful in adopting a particular dog, I’m starting to think there’s something wrong with me!!

    1. No it’s not you! It’s a seller’s market when it comes to finding a puppy from a good breeder so it’s hard, hard, hard. It’s worth it in the end if you can avoid the pet shops and gumtree puppies though.

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