Shelter vs. Breeder

Shelter vs. Breeder

August 14, 2018

    When looking to adopt a four-legged companion, you’ll be faced with a dire decision.  Do you adopt a dog from a shelter/rescue group or buy a puppy from a breeder?  Adding a dog to your family will help you all live happier, longer lives, while providing a warm, loving home to a furry best friend.  There is a lot of information out there, and it can feel overwhelming to encounter such vehement reactions to getting a dog from either breeders or shelters. The stigma that all shelter dogs are unpredictable and come with behavioral issues is simply not true. Will purchasing an expensive bred dog benefit me more than rescuing one?  As the person that went with the $3000 route, here is what I’ve learned.

The Bad Breeder

    The biggest mistake first time dog owners make is that they treat their new dog as if it was jewelry. These people, my self-included, believed that spending over $3000 dollars on a dog will guarantee them a well behaved dog out of the box. They believe that the dog will have jaw dropping looks that a shelter dog could only dream of.  Do a quick Google search of local dog breeders in your area and will quickly discover that there are more breeders than car dealerships. Unfortunately, most breeders get into the business just to make money. You will quickly find your self-spending big money on big health problems due to bad breeding.

 

Telling Signs That You’re Getting Scammed: 

  1. No Contract: Skilled breeders stand by their hard work and will guarantee good health and will take the puppy back with a refund if anything surfaces.
  2. No Health and Pedigree Papers: You should receive the standard documentation upon purchasing your puppy. Information package with care instructions, registration papers, vaccination records etc.
  3. No Interview: Great breeders will interview each customer to ensure their puppies find a loving home. They will ask you question about where you live and what you might do for a living to ensure you can afford the vet trips. If you’re about to buy a high energy dog and live in Manhattan, good luck getting approved.
  4. Can I See The Parents?: You should be able to see the puppy’s parents, brothers and sisters, and where they were raised. Good breeders have nothing to hide and will brag about their work.

 

The Good Breeder

    Responsible and reputable breeders focus on the health and wellbeing of the animals they breed. Though it’s impossible to guarantee that an animal won’t get sick, breeders strive to have the healthiest dogs possible. A responsible breeder will be able to give you the lineage of the puppy you’re interested in and introduce you to the dog’s parents. It’s a benefit to have the health information for your dog and your dog’s ancestors. Sasha, my German Shepherd, had records going back all the way to Germany. Her parents were show dogs and I received a thick folder with pages of paper work including medical files on each parent.

 

Telling Signs of Great Breeders:

  1. Breed Quality Not Quantity: If you find that your breeder is focused more on numbers than quality of the animal, turn away. Keep in mind that breeding is extremely difficult and expensive work if done correctly. They do it for the passion and not the money. You can find your self-spending thousands on vet bills due to terrible breeding if you’re not careful.
  2. Knowledge of The Breed: They read dozens of books on their breed and will tell you all of the pros and cons before purchasing .They should be able to tell you the entire history of the dog and what is their intended purpose. Gather a bunch of questions that only a real professional could answer. If you find the breeder struggling to find answers or they are vague, turn away.
  3. Paper Work and More Paper Work: All of their liters are registered with the Kennel Club. Always have extensive, multi generation pedigrees on all of their dogs. Keeps up to date with genetic issues in the breed and keeps records of all the testing. You should have a stack of papers with x-rays from both parents and even the grandparents. All the health and genetic information should be recorded and given to you WITH NO EXTRA COST. If you bought a house you’d want all the records right?
  4. Contract: Financial matters, ownership transfers and breeding rights or restrictions are clearly spelled out. For dogs sold as pets or companions, many breeders withhold registration papers until the pet is spayed or neutered as part of the contract. Should have a return policy so their hard work does not end up in a shelter.
  5. Interview: These people know more about dogs than you ever will. Don’t be discouraged if you get asked sensitive questions. If you had to give away your child, you’d want to know everything about the new parents.

 

The Shelter

    For some odd reason people tend to believe that shelter dogs are beaten, unhealthy, ugly animals that will attack you at first sight. The stigma only exists in the minds of non-dog owners. What most people don’t understand is that most of these dogs actually are expensive bred animals. Sadly, people adopt expensive dogs to look cool or brag to their friends but never understood that they need love and stimulation. Some end up in a shelter abandoned just months if not weeks after purchase.  Each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet. Do some come with a dark past? The answer is yes but this only adds character to the animal. The bond is much stronger when you know you saved an animal.

    The funny thing is that most people cannot spot the different between a $300 dog and a $3000 dog. Sasha, my German Shepherd, was the least expensive out of the litter and ended up looking like a $20,000 dollar show dog. Her brothers and sisters all look like a normal dogs that you’d see at a park. When you purchase a puppy, you can only hope it ends up looking like the one on the “poster”.

Pros of Rescuing:

  1. You Are Saving Two Lives: The life of the dog you adopt and the space that opens up for another dog in the shelter or rescue. Shelters euthanize dogs just to make space for more abandoned animals.
  2. Already Trained: If you adopt an older dog, chances are they will already be potty trained saving you headaches. Some will actually be thought basic commands like “sit”. Furthermore, shelter dogs are used to being around dogs and other people so you won’t have to worry about socializing as much.
  3. You Will Have a Story: Wonder into any dog park and you’ll hear the most amazing rescue stories. It brings us all together and will make you feel like you’ve made a difference.
  4. Cost Effective: Pay a small adoption fee for an expensive dog that was left behind and already vaccinated.

 

Cons of Rescuing:

  1. Different Breed: You might go looking for a Husky, but fall in love with a baby pit bull. This not exactly a con but some of us have an ideal breed that we’d like to take home with us.
  2. No Medical History: Many dogs find themselves in the shelter with little to no medical history. You may be in for a surprise after your first vet visit. Some shelters have fantastic medical records on all dogs but most don’t have the funding.
  3. Tarnished Past: Some dogs come from abusive backgrounds and may need extra training for certain things. You may find that your new adopted dog hates loud noises or certain objects. It’s up to you to make them feel that it’s okay.

 

So What’s Better?

    The answer is quite easy. If you seek a dog for a specific purpose such as working for the police or working on a filled, then look for specifically bred dog. Some are bred to be more active and some may be bred to be more aggressive. If you’re looking for a family pet that will only be a family member and not a working companion than go to a shelter. Dogs are dogs; they will behave based on their environment. It’s up to the owner to train the animal and establish themselves as the alpha pack leader, aka head of the household. If you seek a dog that has jaw dropping looks, check your local shelters for fancy dogs that simply got left behind. There are thousands of beautiful dogs that seek homes and will make you feel better as a human by providing a loving home for them. At the end of the day, understand that when you buy that $3000+ dog, you’re only paying for the paper work. You’re paying for a genetic test and not the dog’s personality. Dogs will love us no matter what happens in life. Friends and family may turn away when things get rough, but never forget that the dog you’ve adopted will stand by your side no matter what.



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