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Acquiring Dogs: Adopt or Purchase?

Updated on September 27, 2011

Adding a new dog to your family is a huge decision to make, with a substantial list of things to consider before making your decision. Deciding whether you’re going to purchase your new dog or puppy, or adopt them from a shelter or rescue is a very personal, individual decision. The following are a few factors that you might want to take into consideration when making this decision.

Buying Dogs

One of the primary reasons that someone might choose to buy a puppy or dog is because then they know the animal’s family history. If the breeder is reputable, they will have tested both parents and puppies for genetic diseases common to the breed. Animals in a reputable breeding facility will also get their shots on time, and get top-notch veterinary care for their entire lives. In addition, exotic or short-lived breeds (such as giant-breed dogs) may not be available in shelters and rescues, necessitating that you consider buying them from a breeder if you want an animal of that breed.


There are definitely some advantages to acquiring dogs from good breeders, but they do come with a significant price tag. A puppy from a reputable breeder will generally cost anywhere from $500-$1,500, and sometimes more for rarer breeds. Wherever you see prices that are substantially lower than this, make sure you closely scrutinize their vet records, temperament, bloodlines, genetic testing, and the breeder’s rearing practices to ensure that the dog has still been bred responsibly.

Pet Stores

In the vast majority of cases, buying a puppy from a pet store is a bad idea. Yes, there are a few pet stores that purchase their puppies from reputable, responsible breeders and keep up on their vet needs while the puppies are in their shop – but they are few and far between. Most often, pet store puppies are raised in substandard facilities, have second-rate parents that may not be genetically sound, and many have not received any of the recommended veterinary care that guards against common puppy diseases, heartworm, and other potentially deadly conditions. Puppy mills fall on the extreme end of the spectrum, and are characterized by very poor conditions and hundreds of puppies that are bred for their cuteness, not for any other factor. These facilities add to pet overpopulation, and buying from stores that are supplied by them only perpetuates the cycle of unhealthy dogs and horrible living conditions.

Adopting Dogs

On the adoption side, there are tens of thousands of animals sitting in shelters and rescues that desperately need to find their permanent human companions. Though individual histories usually aren’t known, a good shelter will have checked the dog’s general health and temperament before putting it up for adoption. Some of the animals may be a little older, some have already developed a number of bad habits, and others may bear the scars of an abusive history. However, such animals have been victimized by calloused or irresponsible humans, and they can still make great pets. Whatever shelter dog you choose, it can still offer all the companionship and love that a dog bought from a breeder can.

Adoption fees are generally cheap, especially when compared to the purchase price of a purebred or “designer” dog. The dogs have already received veterinary care – immunizations, spaying or neutering -- and they are ready to go to their forever homes. Older animals have often already been trained. You can get to know the dog’s personality, preferences, and temperament immediately, as opposed to judging based on parental characteristics. In these cases, you save a lot of time and energy that would have otherwise been spent training a new puppy.

Finally, dogs from shelters and rescues have a way of knowing that you saved them. They can show their gratitude, and often do so in many surprising ways that you may only believe if you have already given a home to a shelter dog.


There is no such thing as a bad dog. Whether the animal comes from a shelter or a breeder, it can still be an excellent companion. Please do take the time to consider the options carefully. With one option, you can spend a bit of money and get the exact breed you want, and a young dog that may have a better chance of molding to your preferences; it will have a well-documented family history, and will come from known genetic lines. The other option allows you to get at least as good of a companion and spend less money, but also have the satisfaction of knowing that that dog would likely have died without your caring and willingness to give it a good home.

What do you think? Please post a comment below explaining which option you think is better, and why. Thank you very much for your time for reading this hub, and for leaving a comment below. I hope the hub has been helpful.


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