Breeders vs Shelters…
When choosing a dog that is right for you, many things come into play. There are rewards and repercussions for every decision to be made.
I’d like to start with the most important piece of advice: Don’t rush it!
When deciding to bring a dog into the picture the question that often comes up is whether to go to shelter/rescue or to a breeder.
There are pros and cons to both, but please, don’t allow a moral conundrum take a priority over getting the right dog. Because getting the right dog for your family is ultimately more important.
Shelters and rescues may guilt you into buying a pet. They do this in two clever ways:
First, they don’t call it buying or purchasing but instead an adoption. Slightly misleading, for dogs aren’t children and they don’t benefit at all by treating them as such.
Worse (and I’ve heard this a lot) they’ll give you a sob story or threatened euthanasia for the dog you are looking at. Often breeders aren’t much better. They’ll try to convince you that their dogs are the best animals on the planet and down grade living creatures into prized possessions. All dogs have their issues whether they are genetically caused or owner induced; they affect the mutts and pure breeds alike. And while both of these tactics tug on our emotional strings we need to take a step back and reevaluate what the real goal is.
You must to choose a dog based on your current lifestyle and not based on guilt or pride. If that means you need a stable pure-bred retriever for a guide dog, so be it. If on the other hand you need a companion to share time and walks on the beach that’s fine too. DO NOT let your emotions grab hold and end jumping to a conclusion not fully thought through. There are millions of great dogs available in the world and you’re going to find the one you want and in-turn the one you need. Making a decision based on pure emotion, often, ends up doing a greater disservice to the animal and to you.
Make no mistake, shelters and rescues do this country and the world a great service. They house and save millions of dogs each year from sickness, abuse, abandonment, and death. They are responsible for the priceless lives of creatures that want nothing more than to be a contributing part of a family. Every dog in these facilities and in their foster homes deserves a chance at that dream.
Dogs found in shelters or rescues won’t cost nearly as much as a pure bred dog. They will, in most cases, be neutered/spayed already, and most are old enough to already have some of the basic obedience skills under their belt. Typically you’ll get a dog that is a bit older than one you get from a breeder, so you don’t have to put up with any of the puppy nonsense that comes with the extremely young age.
On the flip side you do inherit the dogs past, however traumatizing it may have been. So, some unforeseen behavioral problems can pop up. A good trainer and some patience will see you through the most serious of issues so don’t let this deter you. You also take over any health issues the dog may possess, whether they are current, up and coming or lying dormant.
Breeders play an equally important part in our canine society, when run humanely and by honest people. They work day and night to breed out genetic defects, temperament quirks, and problems within a chosen breed. They selectively pair the healthiest, most stable specimens to continue a bloodline that carries the genetics to innately perform the tasks at hand.
When dealing with purebred dogs from reputable breeders you get the support of the breeder should a problem arise. In most cases you are guaranteed a dog that will be healthy and perform the tasks you expect from them, whether that is leading you across the street or protecting your family and property from a threat.
Purchasing from a breeder has a down sides too. You have to raise this dog from a puppy-hood to its end of life. You will go through all the tough phases of the dog’s life. Phases where it is important to have the guidance of someone who knows dogs inside and out to help you through. Next, you’re going to pay a hefty price tag on this pup. And that tag doesn’t guarantee the dog will be free of problems. You’re paying for the breeder’s knowledge and proof of origin. If that is not worth the extra money to you, there are many other options for choosing a pet.
Honest breeders and reputable shelters/rescues alike will steer you in the direction of a dog that is right for you. If you ever feel pressured by either institution, move on. There are many places to find dogs and there is absolutely no need to have to compromise to fit a breeders or shelters idea of a good owner. A good institution will be straight forward enough to say they don’t have a good match for you at this time, and humble enough to admit that someplace close by probably does.
There are far too many people in the “dog world” that spend their time and energy speaking negatively about anyone that doesn’t share the same beliefs. These people, organizations and institutions have lost touch with what matters most; placing the right dog in the right home that has the capability of caring for and loving it, unconditionally for the rest of its natural life.
Contrary to the title, it’s not about breeders vs. shelters, for they’re only at odds against the animals best interest. It’s about dogs entering into a life and a family they can be comfortable with. No matter which you choose shelter or breeder you are giving a dog that doesn’t have a place to call home or a family to call his own, just that. And the shelter mix and pure bred dog, alike, will thank you all the same, with immeasurable love and unwavering loyalty.
Founder of Hayes Haus Kennels, Brandon Hayes grew up in Massachusetts and is no stranger to the dog world. He's been working as a dog trainer for 15+ years and breeding German Shepherd Dogs since 2009. In his free time, he enjoys coaching wresting at Triton High School.