Adopting vs. Shopping, What’s the Difference and What’s Better?

Black Lab with Tongue Sticking Out of His Mouth

If you’re considering adding a four-legged friend to your family, the first thing you need to decide is where you will get him. There are several options to consider, but the best two are adopting, or going through a reputable breeder.

For many people the allure of a puppy is just too much to pass up. The good news is that shelters have a lot more puppies than most people think. There are a lot of amazing pros to adopting from shelters:

1. You will be saving two lives.

Most shelters are packed to the gills with homeless animals and tough decisions are always just a few minutes away. When you take home a shelter dog, you are not only saving your new friend, but you are making room for the next dog that comes in.

2. Shelter dogs are grateful.

If you choose to adopt an adult dog from the shelter they will become extra bonded to you and always remember that you were the one who saved them.

While there are some super great shelters out there that do their best to make the dogs comfortable, every shelter is stressful for dogs and a home is where they want to be.

Blonde Dog Walking from the Shelter

3. You will save money.

Most reputable rescues and shelters will send their dogs home fully vetted. This means they will already be neutered, vaccinated, heartworm tested, and microchipped. These services alone would cost you $300-$1000, depending on your vet. So the nominal adoption fee is quite a bargain!

4. The dog you choose may already be trained.

A common misconception is that dogs end up in shelters because they have behavioral issues. While this may be true for a small handful, the majority of the dogs are just victims of circumstance.

Many shelter dogs already know basic obedience skills, how to walk on a leash and are rock stars when it comes to house training. Though they may have a few accidents, while they adjust to your schedule and routine.

Brindle Colored Dog in Animal Shelter

While those are the main pros to adopting, the cons are a little more vague.

The main negative  to adopting is that you simply don’t know what you are getting genetically. You don’t know what health issues the dog’s parents or siblings had, and if you are adopting a puppy you have no idea what it’s temperament will be.

Those are the main pros and cons, but to learn more check out this article on the 6 things you should know before adopting.

Small Corgi Puppy with Tongue Out

The other great option for acquiring a new best friend is a reputable breeder. However, there are lots of breeders out there that are only in it for the money. These backyard breeders, or puppy millers, are definitely people you want to avoid like the plague.

Some great ways to know if your breeder is a good one are to ask a few simple questions.

1. Can I meet the parents?

If a breeder won’t allow you to meet the parents and the rest of the litter at their home, it’s usually a huge red flag and you should move on to the next breeder on your list.

More than likely, their reluctance means the animals are kept in less than ideal conditions, or the parents aren’t in good condition. Both of these things mean that your puppy will likely be unhealthy when you get it.

2. Have the parents been tested for genetic conditions the breed is prone to?

Many purebred dogs are prone to genetic diseases like hip dysplasia, eye issues, neurological issues, and more. A good breeder will do routine tests on their dogs to be sure that they are doing their best to better the breed and if a dog at some point tests positive they will immediately get it spayed or neutered and notify all the owners of the puppies.

3. Do you show your dogs/What titles do the parents have?

A good breeder will have titled their dogs in the show ring. These titles will tell you that the parents are of good temperament as they have been handled by judges and that they are of great conformation, both of which you will want in your puppy.

While many breeders don’t show their dogs themselves, all reputable breeders have their dogs titled in either conformation or a specific sport by hiring handlers.

Saint Bernard Puppy with Mom

4. If something happens and I can no longer keep the dog will you take it back?

Most reputable breeders will actually require you to return the dog to them if you can no longer keep it, but a backyard breeder or a puppy mill certainly won’t want it back.

Be sure to stipulate when asking this question that you don’t foresee a reason that you would need to do this, but just in case. If you do foresee a reason you would need to return your dog, consider waiting to get a dog until you are certain you will be able to keep it for the entirety of its life.

Chow Chow Puppy in the Grass

Now that you know how to weed out the puppy mills, it’s important you know where to find a good breeder. Most breeds have large groups of fanciers online and they can almost always point you in the direction of a good breeder.

You can go to Facebook and do a group search of the breed you are looking for. Even if these groups don’t have breeders in them, they can likely point you in the right direction.

Some of the pros of going through a breeder are:

1. You will know your dog’s genetic history.

Breeders keep immaculate records when it comes to lineage and will likely know a lot about your puppy’s parents, grandparents, and great grandparents health and temperament. This is a plus for your dog’s health and if your puppy’s ancestors had great personalities, it’s likely yours will too.

Lot of Grey Shar Pei Cookies

2. You can get exactly what you want.

When adopting a dog it is a little harder to find the exact dog you are looking for, but when you are looking for a breeder it is much easier to find that black male Borzoi puppy or the adolescent female brindle Whippet.

3. Many breeders offer older dogs as well as puppies.

If you aren’t cut out for the work of a puppy, there are lots of breeders that offer their retired breeders or show dogs for adoption. This means that you will be getting a completely trained and socialized dog without all the hassle of puppy training.

Burmese Mountain Dog by Brick Wall

No matter which option you choose, be sure you are prepared! Have everything you will need at home and waiting for your new four-legged family member and be sure you have done your research! Sometimes the task of finding the perfect family member can be a tough one, but don’t give up, your furry friend is out there.

Bonus: If in the Atlanta area, here are a few Atlanta-based shelters doing a wonderful job promoting animal adoption. Or, if you don’t have the mean to become an animal parent just yet, volunteering at a shelter is another viable option.


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