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Reasons to buy a dog vs. rescue a dog

I doubt I will buy a puppy from a breeder unless the dog will be used for some specific kind of work. I am interested in buying a protection dog, for example, and it will not come from a shelter.

People will criticize this decision.

But I have made the choice never to judge anyone by how he or she wants to obtain a dog – the process is a personal choice.

“Rescuing” is not the only humane way to get a dog.

Pretty much any dog or cat can be considered a “rescue” these days. I know one man who “rescued” his purebred dog from a pet shop for $500. He sincerely believes his dog is a “rescue.”

I know more than one person who adopted a second dog just so he could call it a “rescue” and fit in better with his local dog community. People can be verbally hostile to the owners of dogs from pet shops or breeders.

This is unfortunate.

But the trendy way (and some would say the only acceptable way) to get a dog right now is to “rescue” that dog.

I used to consider my mutt Ace a rescue until I became irritated by the whole concept of rescuing.

Ace the black lab mix and Cosmo the American Eskimo (he's up for adoption)I don’t call him a rescue anymore.

I did not rescue Ace from a pound or an abusive home. I did not rescue him from the streets of Fargo-Moorhead or some rundown farm.

I just wanted a cool dog, and some lady in Ada, Minn., happened to have a free, housebroken black lab mix.

All of my animals are “hand-me-down” pets. This is a more appropriate term to describe how I acquired my mutt Ace as well as my cats – Beamer and Scout.

Beamer’s first family dropped him off at the humane society when he was a year old. They probably couldn’t handle his odd food obsessions! Scout came from an “accidental” litter. No surprise I ended up with one of the free kittens – the last one to go 🙂

I don’t consider any of my three to be rescues, really. Beamer was the only one to spend some time in a shelter, but his life was never in danger. It was a no-kill shelter, and he was never in the pound like some of my foster animals were.

This rescuing concept is out of control, and it’s not necessarily helping the animals (although it seems to be helping the humans).

There is something unexplainable about adopting a dog that someone else doesn’t want – it’s something I’m definitely drawn to. But I have to be conscious of what I’m doing. It’s too easy for me to get caught up in the emotions of animal adoption.

Reasons to buy a puppy from a breeder

I can think of plenty of good reasons to buy a puppy from a breeder. Although I’ll probably keep adopting these “hand-me-down” rejects, I can see the benefits to buying a dog from a good breeder.

The main draw to buying a puppy is to help raise that pup correctly from the beginning. Unfortunately, the opposite can also happen. I think we all know plenty of people who have helped screw that puppy up from the very beginning. But that’s for another post …

Some puppies are kept in wire cages for the first six weeks of their lives. Some are isolated in sterile environments. Some are never handled. Some are never separated from their moms. I wouldn’t want to buy any of those puppies.

On the other hand, some puppies are allowed to explore their environments naturally. They are allowed to play in the grass, wrestle, learn to be away from Mom, to interact with all kinds of beings. This is the kind of puppy I would be interested in buying.

I would like to use all my knowledge on dog training, dog behavior and dog nutrition to raise a puppy from the start in the way I perceive as correct.

I would love to begin socializing my puppy from early on, taking her everywhere and training her immediately. Imagine the possibilities!

But can’t I just adopt a puppy from a shelter and get the same benefits?

Well, no.

I would like to know that my puppy has no known health risks. I would like to meet her parents and view how well tempered, socialized, trained and groomed they are. I would like to meet my puppy’s grandparents.

I would like to know that my puppy’s parents were raised on the highest quality dog food, not over-vaccinated and never covered in toxic products like Frontline.

None of the above would guarantee a perfect dog, but I do believe it would increase my odds.

Notice I’m not advocating buying a pet shop puppy or buying from the nearest breeder just to get a purebred dog. I know plenty of people who have done this and ended up with perfectly average and acceptable dogs.

It worked for them. It would not work for me.

But seeking out the top breeder of a specific breed and waiting for a pup from a future litter, playing a role in the entire process – yes, I can see the appeal to that.

Purebred dogs for specific work

People sometimes buy purebred dogs for the sake of performing specific tasks. It’s sometimes too great of a risk for these trainers to use rescue dogs when the job at hand is some serious work like service for a handicapped person, herding, search and rescue or protection.

These dogs are sometimes selected carefully from breeders of working-line dogs. A true working dog is very different from an average companion dog. Not better. Just different.

I’m not saying a shelter dog can’t make a good working dog – he can. And I’m not saying every dog bred for work will actually be able to perform well – he won’t.

What about breed-specific rescues?

Breed-specific rescues are wonderful organizations. There is probably a rescue out there for every dog breed. This is the first place I’d look if I wanted a specific breed (I don’t).

However, if I wanted a rare breed such as a greater Swiss mountain dog, I may be put on a waiting list for several months or years before a dog comes up that needs a home. Most people aren’t going to wait around that long for an imaginary dog that may or may not be a good fit. And if they want a specific breed, the other option is to find a breeder.

Don’t get me wrong, adopting an animal is one of the greatest things a dog lover can do. It’s just not for everyone, and I’m OK with that.

Most people decide to have their own children rather than adopt or foster a homeless child. I don’t hear anyone complaining about that.

It’s socially acceptable right now to criticize each other about how we obtain our animals. I think that is too bad.

And so I’m asking you:

What do you think about this obsession with animal rescue?

Have you ever bought a companion dog or working dog from a breeder?

Pictured below is my mutt Ace and my mom’s dog, Elsie – shortly after swimming in the lake! Woo!

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Sunday 7th of August 2022

Purebred dogs have been an interest of mine since I was a kid. I subscribed to Dog World Magazine when I was ten. There is a lot known about dogs because of people over the years loving and taking an interest in their welfare and breeding.I don't apologize for going to a knowledgable breeder for my dogs, and I hope I am worthy of the care they take to raise a fine example of their chosen breed. I also love mutts, and wish they could all find wonderful homes. The critics of other people's choices in this matter, them I am not so fond of.

Advantages of Getting A Pet From A Breeder | Make The Reality

Thursday 4th of February 2016

[…] Reasons to buy a dog vs. rescue a dog […]


Thursday 25th of June 2015

Something is terribly wrong in our society when the term "Rescue" seems to be now trademarked to mean that you are saving a dog's life only if it came from a group with the word "Rescue" in it and has an affiliation with some type of national organization.

I read an article online (wish I could find it again) that was written by someone who had worked for several years with rescue groups and wanted to enlighten the public. I wasn't enlightened because I had already seen first hand what she was relating.

For many (but certainly not all), the rescue groups have specific people who visit shelters at least once a week (usually on a Monday or Tuesday) to pick up any new strays that are easily adoptable. She said they look for small dogs and family dogs and leave behind the less adoptable breeds. And, yes, I know this happens because a friend of mine who worked with one of our local groups told me up front that they go on Tuesday mornings to our local shelter and do this very thing. So what is wrong with that? Well, the group gets free or deeply discounted vet services. They pick up the dog from the shelter for about $10 (not kidding) and then turn around and slap a $300 adoption fee for the dog. Sometimes, the dogs were altered previously. Still, what is the problem with that? They are only taking the easiest dogs to adopt out leaving behind the breeds that are harder to place keeping them at risk in the shelter.

In other areas, the rescues get alerted by control officers of any new arrivals before the general public gets a chance to see these dogs (I'm not talking about the holding period to see if the dogs' owners show up - although I know of one particular case where the holding period was not over, but a rescue group was allowed to come in and get the dogs).

It used to be you could just go to a shelter and look at the dogs, interact with them, fill out paperwork, and take the dog home and have it altered within 30 days. I had to return a dog I had gotten from a rescue and I will never use a rescue again. The dog was three years old and would NOT stop destroying my home and he would not stop spraying in my home even though we had had him neutered (I'm not talking about a little bit either, it was every where all of the time). We tried for eight months to get help for him, but he really needed to be an outdoor dog (he was a hunting breed anyway) and the rescue group would not allow it.

I do not feel guilty for returning him because the rescue group did not warn me of possible destructive behavior. I know rescue dogs can have issues and was willing to work on and get training for many of them, but some things are not going to stop once they have been ingrained over a long period.

If people want a dog, they can get a dog from wherever they want to get a dog. Period. I do not believe the only "reputable" breeders are show breeders - not by a long shot. I do not believe that "AKC" is the litmus test of "quality dog."

Then there are the people slapping the term "rescue" on their title when they've stolen or gotten dogs on the cheap and flipped them through a rescue. In my mind, anytime you're asking over $75 for a dog, you are not a are SELLING a dog.

I know there are 4 million dogs in shelters and rescues across America. That sounds abysmal until you compare the stats with the 70's where it was much, much, much higher. In some northern states, they have such little supply of shelter or adoptable dogs, they ship in dogs from the south or midwest to fill the demand. I would like to know the breeds most likely to end up in shelters or rescues. In my state, by far pit bulls would be the breed with the highest numbers in shelters.

Are there good rescues? Absolutely! Do they want to help the dogs find homes! Definitely! But there are other rescues that are only interested in making a buck or only interested in being so elitist that the hoops you're expected to jump through make it almost impossible to adopt a dog.

So, back to the dog I had to return to the rescue. They were pissed. Told me if I returned the dog to them, I could never ever adopt another dog from them. But if I kept it, it would be no problem. Now, if a breeder had told that to me, they would be blacklisted. Breeders are supposed to take their puppies and dogs back at any time....why aren't rescues when the situation is unfixable?


Friday 10th of April 2015

Shelters let me say this most of them except the city shelters questions are too personal for me. Are you planning on having kids, surprise home visits what would you do if so and so occurs. I am buying a townhouse very soon, I plan to adopt a young cat, I looked at the dogs they are so not for me. 75% pit bulls thank you but no thank you. I am over 60 I would also like a dog but I can't walk far so I researched it a pug would be perfect for me. So when the time comes I will go to a breeder. I don't any longer feel sorry for these shelters, some turn away good families and its a shame and then cry about pets not adopted lol


Wednesday 23rd of July 2014

Well, I know this is an older article, but I loved it just the same. First to start off, I'm an animal lover. Any animal, really. When I was growing up we always had at least four dogs and three cats on the farm. When I became a young adult living in a city, I adopted two cats, and they were my first children. Since then, I married a military man, and we have a beautiful sweet little boy. I donate to local shelters, and "babysit" friends pets for free when they leave on vacation or deploy. But, when I decided to BUY a AKC registered Labrador Retriever, I was judged harshly by most. I did not buy my son's puppy brother because I'm a snob or because I needed a pretty piece of paper to wave around. I bought my new furry baby, because my toddler was diagnosed with Autism and has many social issues. I know the breed of dog and the temperament, I met the owners/breeders, I had my son interact with the puppies parents, and finally it was our puppy who chose my son. I needed a gentle, patient, active, and easy to please dog. He had to love the water and the outdoors. He needed curiosity, but also intelligence. He had to be sturdy and strong. He had to have a sense of humor and the need to play. I needed him to have a clean slate, and he needed to grow to understand my little boy. This dog wasn't going to be a temporary choice or "when we got bored/frustrated we gave him away" choice, we needed him to be a forever choice. I get that a rescue would have been more saintly. But, I made an educated decision to fit my family. If it had been just me, sure a rescue or adopted dog would have been fine. But, we needed something special and specific. I wouldn't change a thing. He is a miracle and they are inseparable. Yeah, he is a dog, but because of his breed, he was able to give my little boy a best friend.