Adopt or Shop? How to Choose the Right Dog For You

Discover the key factors in deciding whether to adopt a dog from a local rescue or buying from a breeder. Get balanced, expert advice.

Bringing a new dog into your home is an exciting adventure, filled with wagging tails, slobbery kisses, and lots of belly rubs. But one of the first and biggest questions you’ll face is whether to adopt a dog or buy one from a breeder. It’s a decision that carries a lot of weight and responsibility, so let’s walk through the options together to help you determine what’s best for you and your family.

Understanding Your Needs and Lifestyle

First things first, let’s take a good look at your lifestyle and living situation. Are you an active person who loves hiking and running, or do you prefer cozy nights on the couch binge-watching your favorite shows? Do you live in an apartment or a house with a spacious yard? Do you have children or other pets?

Understanding your daily routine and home environment is crucial in deciding what type of dog will be a good fit. High-energy dogs like Border Collies or Labrador Retrievers might need more exercise and space, while breeds like Bulldogs or Basset Hounds are more suited to a relaxed lifestyle.

And if you have kids, it’s essential to consider breeds known for their patience and gentleness with little ones, such as Golden Retrievers or Beagles. So, before you even think about where to get your dog, make sure you know what kind of dog will fit seamlessly into your life. 

A man and woman are petting a dog that they just adopted.

Adopting a Dog

The Benefits of Adopting a Dog

One of the most compelling reasons to adopt is the opportunity to save a life. Shelters and rescue organizations are filled with dogs of different breeds, mixes, ages, and temperaments, all waiting for a second chance at a loving home. When you adopt, you’re not just gaining a pet; you’re gaining a loyal companion who will be forever grateful for your kindness.

Adopting a dog can also be more cost-effective. Adoption fees are generally lower than the cost of buying a puppy from a breeder, and typically rescues and shelters include vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and microchipping in the adoption fee. It’s a win-win situation: you save money, and you help reduce the number of homeless animals. Local rescues typically have already taken the time to know if a dog is good with young children, cats or other dogs. They should be able to offer you insight on the dog’s temperament and needs ahead of time. 

Ethically, adopting supports the fight against puppy mills and unethical breeding practices. Puppy mills often prioritize profit over the well-being of dogs, leading to extremely poor living conditions and health problems. By adopting, you’re taking a stand against these practices and supporting organizations that prioritize animal welfare.

Potential Challenges of Adopting a Dog

While adoption is a wonderful option, it can come with its challenges. One of the main concerns is the uncertainty about the dog’s background. Many rescue dogs have unknown histories, which can include abuse, neglect, or abandonment. This can sometimes lead to behavioral issues that require patience and training to overcome. However, good local rescues will take the time to screen dogs prior to adoption so that you can have a good understanding of your dog’s needs. 

When you bring rescue dog home, there may be an adjustment period. Your new furry friend needs to settle into their new environment. It’s important to be patient and understanding during this time. Creating a safe haven for your dog with a comfy bed and a quiet space can help them feel more secure.

Considering adopting a pup as a holiday gift? Read What You Need to Know About Holiday Dog Adoption

Dozens of photograph of dogs that are waiting to be adopted hang from a display wall

Buying a Dog

The Benefits of Buying from a Breeder

On the flip side, buying from a breeder has its own set of advantages. One of the primary benefits is predictability. When you buy from a reputable breeder, you have a good idea of what to expect in terms of the dog’s appearance, size, temperament, and potential health issues. This is especially important if you’re looking for specific traits or characteristics in a dog.

For instance, if you want a hypoallergenic dog because of allergies, certain breeds like Poodles or Schnauzers are known for being more allergy-friendly. Reputable breeders provide detailed information about the puppy’s lineage, health history, and the parents’ behavior, giving you peace of mind about your new pet’s future.

Additionally, buying a puppy means you can start training and socializing them from a young age. Puppies are like sponges, ready to soak up all the training and experiences you provide. This can be particularly beneficial for first-time dog owners who want to mold their pet’s behavior and habits from the beginning.

Potential Challenges of Buying from a Breeder

Buying a dog from a breeder also has its downsides. One of the most significant is the cost. Purebred puppies can be quite expensive, with prices ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the breed and breeder’s reputation.

There’s also the ethical concern. Not all breeders operate with the dogs’ best interests at heart. Puppy mills, in particular, are notorious for their inhumane treatment of dogs. It’s essential to research and find a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs. Always visit the breeder’s facility, meet the puppy’s parents, and ask for health clearances to ensure you’re making a responsible choice. Keeping in mind that local families breeding their pets for fun will typically not have the health screenings in place you should be able to expect. 

Get some additional information about the importance of finding an ethical breeder HERE

A group of Australian Shepard puppies are on display.

Making the Final Decision

Now that we’ve weighed the pros and cons of each option, it’s time to make the final decision. This decision should be based on what will fit best with your lifestyle, family needs, and personal preferences.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I want to provide a home for a dog in need and support ethical animal practices?
  • Am I looking for a specific breed with known characteristics? 
  • How much am I willing to spend upfront on purchasing a dog?
  • Am I prepared to handle potential behavioral issues or health problems regardless of where the dog comes from?

Discuss these questions with your family and consider everyone’s needs and preferences. This will ensure that your new dog is a perfect fit for your home.

Read one woman’s insightful story about the decision to buy from a breeder after years of adopting HERE.


Steps to Take After Making Your Decision

If Adopting:

  • Do your research!
  • Visit local shelters and rescue organizations to meet potential dogs.
  • Spend time interacting with the dogs to see their personalities and energy levels.
  • Take your children and other dogs with you to meet their new prospective pup.
  • Ask the organization about the dog’s history, temperament, and any special needs.

If Buying from a Breeder:

  • Do your research! 
  • Find reputable breeders in your area and ask for authentic references.
  • Visit the breeder’s facility and observe the living conditions of the puppies and their parents.
  • Ask for detailed information about the puppy’s lineage, health clearances, and any potential genetic issues.
  • Make sure you receive documentation of any and all claims about the pup you’re buying. 
  • Take note that reputable breeders don’t sell their dogs on social media marketplace sites. 


Conclusion …

Whether you choose to adopt or shop for your dog, the most important thing is to ensure you’re ready for the commitment and responsibility that comes with dog ownership. Dogs require time, effort, and lots of love, but the joy they bring into your life is worth every bit of it. 

So, take your time. Make an informed decision based on your lifestyle and preferences, and get ready to welcome a new member into your family. Your life is about to get a lot more paw-some!


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