Adopting vs Buying
This is a hot topic in the dog world, and just about everyone has an opinion. “Adopt don’t shop”, “Purchase from reputable breeders”, “Shelter dogs are dangerous”, “Don’t buy from backyard breeders”. The list can go on, and on. I am in full support of both options if done appropriately with plenty of research accomplished beforehand. What follows are the facts of both of these options.
Buying a dog from a responsible breeder is a great option. However, there are several factors that make a good breeder. Responsible breeders should make an effort to register their dogs with canine specific organizations. Some of these organizations include AKC, UKC, APRI, or CKC. Each of these organizations have different rules and regulations that may prevent certain breeds from being registered with them, so make sure to do your research! Some breeders offer limited or full registration of the puppies, make sure you understand these restrictions before you purchase a puppy.
Health clearances are another prerequisite to look for when researching breeders. The Sire and Dam should each have health clearances. There are several health tests that can be done including OFA’s (hips & elbows), EIC (exercise induced collapse), eye, and DNA tests. Some dogs are more prone to health conditions than others, and based off that information the breeder should do the appropriate tests. These are beneficial because it is more likely that you will have a healthy puppy! Some breeders even offer health guarantees that are good for two years.
Breeders should be open to talking to, and answering questions from potential buyers. Some are comfortable with showing off their breeding facility. However, many breeders (good and bad) do it from their own home, so keep this in mind. I also try to make it a point to meet the parents of the litter. This can show you the temperaments that are being passed onto the puppies.
Lastly, good breeders should provide the best care possible for the puppies. This includes their first couple rounds of shots, dewormings, and sometimes getting dewclaws removed, docked tails, ect. Some excellent breeders even implement an early neurological stimulation program before the puppies go home.
A short note about puppy mills and “backyard breeders”: A puppy mill is “a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is placed above the well-being of the dogs”(ASPCA). Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without proper veterinary care, food, water and socialization. A backyard breeder is an amature animal breeder whose actions usually lacks ethical and selective breeding. These are different from puppy mills because they are done on a smaller scale, usually at home with their own pets. Sadly, people keep these practices in business because they do not do their proper research and end up purchasing a puppy that originally came from one of these unethical breeders.
Adopting a dog from a shelter is be a great option, and there have been thousands of success stories to prove it. Just like doing your research with looking for a breeder, the same should be done when inquiring about a shelter. I can confidently say that the majority of people working in shelters have sincere intentions of helping the dogs and people looking to adopt. Sadly, sometimes these good intentions end up putting a dog in the wrong home. Let me explain: Who remembers shelter ads showing the sick and scared dogs and cats in need of a home? Ads like these are meant to play on people’s emotions. “The dog’s time is almost up” This creates a feeling of desperation for people to adopt and save a life. This is irresponsible and dangerous! Although yes, they have the best intentions, this could lead to a dog going to an inappropriate home. The simple fact of the matter is that some dogs in shelters have aggression problems, severe anxiety, or health issues. Without knowing the history of the dog, (which most shelters don’t) there is always some uncertainty about the dog you are adopting.
Let me assure you that shelters can be a great resource when looking for a companion that will fit perfectly into your home with your family. When researching shelters, you should find one that does temperament testing with the dogs. Temperament testing helps shelters better understand the dog’s personality by performing various situations that reveal potential aggression, or anxiety tendencies. Two common temperament tests performed in shelters are the Match-Up evaluation and the Safer assessment. With these evaluations performed on the dogs, it can help a family find a safe and proper companion without the risk of the unknown.
If you take one thing from this article, I would ask that you do your research. Weather you are adopting or buying from a breeder, you can be happy with your decision when the proper preparation work has been done.
“Research is creating new knowledge” (Neil Armstrong).