Whether you adopt a puppy or an adult dog, you will probably go to a breeder or a rescue but which would be the best for you? There is not a clear cut answer because it really depends on what you are looking for in a dog.
I’ve put together what I think are the most important things for you to consider which will help you to decide if you should go to a breeder or a rescue to find your new family member.
You Can Provide a Home for a Dog or Puppy in Need
Many dogs are euthanized in shelters every year because the shelters are overflowing. Most of the time, adult dogs are the least likely to be adopted particularly elderly dogs. If you adopt a dog or puppy then you might literally be saving her life or, at the very least, you are providing room for one more dog to be saved.
You Can Skip the Destructive Puppy Stage and Adopt an Adult Dog
There are a lot of wonderful adult dogs in shelters who don’t have behavior or health issues. Their previous owners just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) take care of them for some reason. Read my page about Adults vs Puppies to learn more about the pros and cons of puppies vs adult dogs. Spoiler: adult dogs are often much easier to live with! Puppies are cute, but they can be little terrors.
Many Rescues Foster Their Dogs With Families So They Know the Dogs Well
Smaller shelters often have foster homes for their dogs instead of keeping them in kennels. Because of this, the foster parents get to know the dog really well in a home environment so they can tell you about her temperament, if she gets along with their other pets, and everything else that they have noticed about her.
Most Breeds Can Be Found In Rescues
There is a misconception that you have to go to a breeder to find a purebred dog. This is just not true, particularly if you are looking for a more common breed.
On the other hand, if you would prefer a dog with a hodgepodge of different breeds in his background then you will easily find various mixed breeds in your local dog shelters.
Puppies from Rescues Have Many Unknowns
If you adopt a puppy from a shelter, it will be hard to tell how that puppy will grow up. Depending on how much information the rescue has on the puppy, they might be guessing on the puppy’s breed or mix of breeds. The puppy might grow up to be bigger or smaller than expected. He might grow up to have more or less energy then you would like and have a personality that is significantly different from what you expect. Finally, you will probably know little to nothing about the health of the puppy’s relatives. Many genetic health issues do not manifest until a dog is an adult and can be avoided with health testing.
Whether you decided to adopt from a breeder or a rescue, you can never know exactly what a puppy will be like as an adult. However, if you go to a good breeder then you will know more about the temperaments and health of the relatives. Basically, you will be able to predict the type of adult that a puppy from a good breeder will grow into much more accurately than a puppy from a shelter. Of course some people like this unpredictability but you will have to be more flexible with your expectations for your dog.
Often Large Shelters Don’t Have the Staff Needed to Get to Know Each Individual Dog Well
These shelters can give you some information about the dogs but they will not know all of the dogs’ quirks. You will have to spend a lot of time with the dog that you are interested in and evaluate the dog’s temperament yourself. If you don’t feel up to the task, then I would take a dog savvy friend with you or go to a smaller rescue that can give you more information.
I wrote a blog post last week called How to Find a Good Breeder and Avoid Puppy Mills. If you decide to go to a breeder for your new puppy then it is very important that you do your research to find a reputable breeder. My blog post covers some of the most important things that you should look for in a breeder.
Good Breeders Health Test Their Dogs Before Breeding
There are many major health problems that have a genetic component. Because of this, good breeders test their adult dogs for the health problems that are common in their breed. This drastically decreases the chance that your puppy will suffer from a debilitating health condition in his life.
If You Want to Compete in Dog Sports There Are Breeders Who Specialize in Your Sport
Let’s say that you want to compete with your dog in Agility and you adopt your puppy from a breeder who shows their breeding dogs in Agility. Your puppy’s parents have advanced agility titles (maybe even a MACH). This would mean that your puppy will tend to have inherited traits that make a great agility dog. Plus your breeder will know how to help you choose the best puppy for you out of the litter. Of course, this applies to other dog sports as well.
However, this is by no means the only way to find a fantastic dog to train for your sport. Your next competitive partner could come from a breeder or a rescue. In fact, many of the top competitors at the national level in Agility, Obedience, and Rally every year are rescues. They can be registered as an All American Dog with AKC with just proof of spay or neuter.
If you want to adopt through a rescue, I would adopt a young adult dog instead of a puppy. This way, you will know that the dog has a temperament that meshes well with your plans. Also, you will be able to see if the adult dog has good structure; this will help your dog to avoid injury if he will compete in a high impact sport like Agility.
You Have Your Heart Set on a Rare Breed
I get it. Some of my favorite breeds are not common in the United States so the odds of finding one in a rescue are next to zero. If you are dead set on an extremely rare breed, then you might have no choice but to go to a breeder. However, if you would otherwise like to adopt from a rescue then I would recommend looking at dogs who are available for adoption. You might surprise yourself and find the perfect dog.
Irresponsible Breeders, Puppy Mills, and Backyard Breeders
There are a lot of bad breeders! You have to be very careful to avoid them because not only will you be getting a puppy that has a greater chance of behavior or health issues but also you will be supporting someone who is breeding dogs unethically. It is because of these breeders that shelters are overflowing. Like I said above, I wrote How to Find a Good Dog Breeder and Avoid Puppy Mills to help you to navigate away from the irresponsible breeders and find a wonderful breeder.
So Is a Breeder or a Rescue Right for You?
Let me know in the comments below if you have already or are planning on adopting a dog from a breeder or a rescue. I would love to know why you made the choice. Also, if you have previously adopted from a rescue then is there a situation where you would go to a breeder for a future dog? Also, for those who have adopted from a breeder: Would you ever go to a rescue? I would love to know why or why not!