What‘s in a Dog? A Breeder Dog vs A Shelter Dog

Before I go any further, I want to express my absolute support for adoption. As a former animal shelter worker, I can’t put into words the daily heartbreak of seeing so many wonderful, beautiful dogs euthanized because they were unwanted, or because someone wanted to buy from a breeder without giving a shelter pet a chance. There are, though, some understandable instances that would make purchasing a dog understandable, and as wonderful a thing as it is, rescue isn’t for everyone. When you’re considering adding a pet to your home, always consider a trip to your local animal shelter, rescue group, or the huge variety of dogs available online for adoption to loving homes, but also make sure to ask yourself some very important questions:

What Is Your Budget?

This should absolutely go without saying, but I’m going to say it. If you’re only planning to spend $50 for a new member of your family, you’re definitely going to need to go to an animal shelter. You can’t just get a dog, and that’s that - you dog will need vaccinations, flea treatment, food, and accessories (collar, leash, a warm sweater if you live in a cold part of the country with a warm weather dog). For a (generally) small adoption fee, an animal shelter will adopt a dog out to you that has been vaccinated. Sometimes, animal shelters and rescue organizations will provide medicine if your new adoptee has kennel cough, a mild, uncomfortable doggy version of the common cold. If you purchase from a breeder, vaccines are rarely provided, and can be very expensive at vet offices.

Are You Only Open to Certain Breeds?

Whether it’s because of allergies, your upbringing, or just a preference, you should know what type of dog you would like to have. For most people, any fun, playful dog will do, but if you have your heart set on a Rottweiler girl, you’re going to want to try to find her, won’t you? You can, of course, seek a breeder. You’ll probably be able to get exactly what you want, when you want. You’re almost guaranteed to pay through the nose for a well-bred puppy, but you will have exactly what you want. If you’re open, it’s a great idea to start at your local shelter. These days, nearly all animal shelters have websites, and you can browse the dogs who are waiting for loving homes. If you are looking for a specific breed, and see the breed, age, and sex you’re looking for, congratulations! If not, contacting a breeder is an understandable decision. You’ll have your desired companion, and a long time to make memories with them.

What Is Your Living Situation?

This is probably the most important consideration when you’re bringing home a new pet - the issue of adopt vs. shop comes in a clear second place. I discourage you from adopting any animal without having a conversation with any and everyone living with you. Children, parents, uncles, roommates, friends - everyone who lives with you will be affected by the presence of your pet. Of course, let’s not forget that a new pet will affect any other pets that you already have, as well. It is generally cheaper to adopt versus shopping, so if you’re looking for a little dog for the apartment that you share with your cousin, a quick trip to the animal shelter will be all you need. If you own your home, and you’ve already been to the animal shelter, and would like to give a Whippet a try, try contacting a Whippet rescue to see if they have any dogs that may be a fit for you. If not, you can certainly find a responsible and responsive Whippet breeder.

Do You Have Allergies?

The number of people with dog allergies grows every year. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re allergic, find a short-haired dog, and try petting it. If you have a skin reaction, or if your eyes get red and itchy, ask your doctor for an allergy test. If it turns out that you are allergic to dogs, but are still open to having one, the likelihood of you contacting a breeder will be high for a perfectly good reason: you will need a companion who won’t accidentally suffocate you! Malia Obama is allergic to dogs, so her parents bought Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, a breed known to be hypoallergenic. Be careful, though - some dogs can irritate your allergies, despite the hypoallergenic label.

So, What Do You Do?

You do what’s best for you! While I strongly encourage, even insist, that you consider adoption, it is understandable if you feel this isn’t the option for you and/or your family. As long as you’re ready for a 10+ year commitment, you can expect that your new friend will come with years of love and great memories.