Many children beg their parents for a pet, and families that have never owned a dog before sometimes make the mistake of purchasing a pooch from the pet store. Personally, I find this as a mistake since pet stores often obtain their stock from “puppy millers” (aka: unethical breeders that churn out dogs as a way to make money and do not test their dogs for temperament or inheritable medical diseases).
For parents that are thinking about bringing home a four-legged friend, their best bet is to go to a reputable rescue, shelter, or breeder, depending on their lifestyle and what they are looking for.
There are some folks that swear by adopting a dog while others will only purchase one from a reputable breeder, but both are valid options and each have their pros and cons (listed below).
I rescued my younger dog Zoe from North Shore Animal League of America, but she’s very skittish. Even though I am grateful for the lessons she’s taught me, I would like my next dog to be from a reputable breeder.
Just like some people prefer Macs and others love PCs, families wanting to add a dog to their life need to research both adopting from a shelter or purchasing from a reputable breeder. Depending on the situation, one will be a better fit for their own personal needs.
20 A Respected Rescue Will Help Find A Dog That Fits The Family
According to Parents magazine, a reputable rescue or shelter will temperament test each and every one of their dogs before they let them go to their forever homes.
For families that are looking to add a four-legged friend to their home, a reputable rescue and shelter will know which dogs are going to be the perfect fit for their lifestyle and will steer them towards those animals instead of letting them take home any old pooch that might not be right for their home.
19 Families Can Foster A Dog Before They Adopt It
Parents magazine points out that if a family isn’t sure about a doggo they have their eye, many reputable rescues and shelters often have a foster-to-adopt program in place so that potential adopters can get a feel for how the animal gels with them and their home.
Stories of foster failures are pretty common in the rescue world; my friend was fostering for a rescue and fell in love with her pup. She made the decision to make him a permanent part of the family and he’s blossomed into a really awesome companion for her.
18 Highly Regarded Rescues Can Help Find Kid-Friendly Dogs
Parents magazine notes that a good rescue or shelter will screen their dogs to see who is kid-friendly. What dogs are more suitable for older children or perhaps even an adult-only home, etc...
While it can be disappointing for a family that falls in love at first sight with the first dog they see in a shelter, it’s better to let the workers steer you to dogs that have been proven to be kid-friendly and don’t mind a rough-and-tumble lifestyle.
17 Adopting An Older Dog Means Knowing What Their Personality Is Like
Parents magazine mentions that one of the good things about going to a rescue or shelter in order to adopt, is that they often have slightly older dogs. It's tempting to take home a puppy, but puppies require a ton of work and there’s no guarantee that they won’t develop behavioral issues; such as leash reactivity due to a lack of socialization during the critical periods of development.
With an adult dog—like one that is three or four years old—what you see is pretty much what you’re going to get. Their personality and their quirks have already formed, and there’s no guessing game required.
16 Rescues And Shelters Often Have A Wide Variety Of Dogs
According to Parents magazine, another perk of going to a rescue or shelter in order to adopt a dog is that they often have a wide variety of choices to choose from.
Many shelters and rescues often have purebreds, “designer dogs” like the so-called “Labradoodle,” regular ol’ mix breeds, and sometimes even “island dogs.” Island dogs tend to be the Potcakes from the Bahamas or the Satos from Puerto Rico. You can even check out a breed-specific rescue for purebreds if you have your heart set on a purebred but still want to adopt.
15 Adopting From A Shelter Is Usually Cheaper
Parents magazine notes that another perk of adopting from a rescue or shelter is that the initial price tag is often cheaper, depending on which place you go to.
For example, when I was volunteering with a local pet adoption event that worked hand-in-hand with rescues such as North Shore Animal League, puppies were often $170 while older dogs were a bit cheaper. Keep your eyes peeled for special discounts and events too, as the adoption fee might be even cheaper then.
14 Many Dogs Have Been Spayed Or Neutered At The Shelter
Parents magazine writes that another good thing about adopting a dog from a rescue or shelter is that you often don’t have to shell out extra cash in order to spay or neuter them after you welcome them into your home.
Many rescues and shelters will spay or neuter their dogs before they adopt them out, although there are some that will make adopters sign a contract to alter their new furry friends after a certain age. For example, they might tell the adopters of a 10-week-old puppy to return when their pup is six months old and they’ll spay or neuter them for you.
13 Most Shelters And Rescues Keep The Dogs Up To Date On Their Shots
Depending on the age of the fluff you are interested in adopting, Parents magazine notes that most of the dogs are up-to-date on their vaccines
For example, when I adopted my younger dog Zoe from North Shore Animal League, she was only 10 weeks old and had most of her puppy shots. She only needed two or three more as a recall, which made my wallet give a huge sigh of relief. With older dogs, they will more than likely be up-to-date with the required shots and you might just need to get them “optional” vaccines such as leptospirosis or Lyme disease.
12 Some Of The Older Dogs Might Know Basic Obedience
Parents magazine points out that another perk of adopting a slightly older dog from a shelter and not going for a cute, adorable, and bouncy puppy is that the dog is more likely going to be a) a heck of a lot calmer and b) might even know some basic obedience such as “sit” or “down.”
Let’s face it, finding a skilled force-free dog trainer and signing up for classes can be a bit pricey, so it will lighten your wallet if you can bring home a pooch that has already been through basic obedience lesson with their previous owners.
11 Adopting Frees Up Space For Another Animal At The Shelter
Parents magazine makes a great point: when families make the decision to adopt a dog from a shelter or a rescue, that empty space in the kennel can then be used for another homeless pooch that needs saving.
Unless it's a very popular rescue that is rolling in the dough like North Shore Animal League of America, most rescues and shelters have a finite amount of space they can use for homeless animals. Once an animal is adopted out to a good home, they can then turn their attention to helping another dog that needs to be saved.
10 Ethical Breeders Can Suggest The Right Puppy For A Person's Lifestyle
According to the American Kennel Club, an ethical breeder will scrutinize prospective buyers and ask them questions, such as what their goals are for the puppy and what their lifestyle is like.
Once the litter is born, the breeder will painstakingly test their puppies and play matchmaker with the prospective owners on their list. If there isn’t a puppy in the litter that meets their needs, sometimes breeders will invite those waiting to see if another pup will fit when they have their next litter. If not, then they will refer them to another breeder that they know.
9 A Good Breeder Will Start The Beginning Of Socialization Before The Pup Goes Home
Patricia McConnell notes that many breeders will often kickstart the socialization process by following the Puppy Culture DVDs and introducing them to new dogs, people, etc... All of which makes life just a bit easier for dog owners, especially if this is their first pet.
Dogstar Daily adds that puppies must be socialized before they are three months old, and need to interact with different people and dogs. If they miss this critical period of socialization, this may lead to possible fear issues as they grow up and meet new people and animals after that window closes.
8 A Reputable Breeder Performs Health Testing
Petful adds that a good, ethical breeder will test for health issues before the parents have a litter. Once the puppies are born, they will temperament test them in order to ensure a right match for the owner on the waiting list.
For example, high-regard German Shepherd Dog breeders screen for medical issues such as the MDR1 mutation, degenerative myelopathy, Von Willebrand’s disease, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia in order to ensure that the future puppies will be relatively healthy.
7 Take The Pup For What It Is
Petful notes that when you purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder, what you see is what you get, essentially.
There are usually no surprises in terms of temperament because a good breeder will be happy to introduce you to one (or both) of the parents, and knows their line inside and out. The puppies usually conform to the breed standard, although there will always be “outliers” in a litter. Unlike purchasing a dog with an unknown history, from a rescue or a shelter, you know where your dog is coming from and what their relatives were like.
6 Families Can Often Meet The Parents Of The Puppies
Petful points out that one good thing about purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder is that you get a chance to visit said breeder and meet their dogs.
In some cases, the breeder will have both parents on the premises, but if not, they usually always have the mother at the home. Prospective buyers will be able to interact with her to see if her temperament is the right fit for their home or what they are looking for in a furry friend.
5 A Good Breeder Will Always Take Their Dogs Back No Matter What
According to Petful, another great perk of purchasing a dog from an ethical breeder is that most, if not all of them, make buyers sign a contract that says something to the effect that if for whatever reason the new owner can’t take care of the dog, to return him or her to the breeder.
A good breeder will make sure that none of their dogs will ever wind up homeless and in a shelter. They will always take back their dogs, even if they are seniors, if goodness forbid something happens and the owner is unable to provide for their furry friend at any point in time.
4 There's Lifetime Support For The Family
The American Kennel Club points out that good breeders will offer lifetime support for the owners that take home their puppies. This can be reassuring, especially if families previously owned a dog with severe behavioral issues.
For example, if a purebred dog from a good breeder develops leash reactivity, the breeder will be able to either recommend a reputable trainer or help the owners find one in their area that can come by their house to help them nip the issue in the bud.
3 A Respected Breeder May Have Older Dogs That Need Homes
Let’s face it, while puppies are cute, they require a ton of time and energy to train, housebreak, and socialize. The American Kennel Club writes that reputable breeders often have older puppies that do not require as much supervision or even older dogs that are already trained and are in need of homes.
This is a win-win situation all around since families can get a dog that knows basic obedience and is housebroken and the breeder knows that their older pooch is in a good home.
2 A Good Breeder Carefully Plans Their Litter
Petful points out that a good breeder carefully plans each and every single litter. It's not as easy as picking a cute male dog and a cute female dog and letting them have puppies. They have to be healthy and free of all inheritable diseases, have good conformation (so no hip or elbow dysplasia), a temperament that conforms to the breed standards, and in the case of working lines, have an aptitude for working at a job. Whether it’s being a K-9 dog for the local police department or working on a farm herding sheep.
1 Ethical Breeders Rigorously Screen New Homes
The American Kennel Club adds that good breeders will scrutinize prospective buyers. It is not like purchasing a dog from a pet store — there’s often a very long wait list (sometimes up to a few years) and you have to fill out a questionnaire about why you want this particular breed, your living situation, and your aims with the dog.
Good breeders are also not shy about turning down prospective buyers either, and will tell you flat out if their breeding program does not meet your needs. They will often recommend another reputable breeder or a breed better suited for your lifestyle.
Sources: Petful, American Kennel Club, Parents Magazine, Patricia McConnell, Dogstar Daily