Pets introduce a ton of benefits to your family, such as helping to lower stress, companionship, and even supporting physical health. But choosing to bring a new companion into your home does require preparing yourself for new responsibilities, and those responsibilities begin before you even decide on which dog is the best match for you.
When considering a 4-legged addition to your household, there are a lot of factors you need to consider before choosing a breed or bringing home your new family member. One of the first choices you need to make is whether to buy from a dog breeder, or choose to adopt from a rescue. Both have a wide array of positive aspects to take into account, and you should weigh each before making a final decision.
Dog rescues and adoption
There are a ton of reasons why you may be considering adopting a dog for a shelter or rescue. For starters, you very well may be saving a life. Many shelters unfortunately have to put animals down if they are not adopted to make room for more unwanted pets. Despite the harshness of this practice, when an animal goes unclaimed or unwanted, decisions have to be made to help as many animals as possible.Rescues often are no-kill, and may even specialize in specific breeds to help them find the perfect home.
When you do adopt, you open up room for the facility to bring in and house another pet. The adoption fees also go towards feeding and caring for other unwanted animals, and your new dog will also come with a mandatory spay or neuter to help avoid future unwanted and irresponsible breedings.
You also often have a better chance of finding a perfect match if you are not interested in raising a puppy. Mature dogs may have basic commands and housebreaking already under their belt, and elderly dogs may be the perfect, low energy companion. Either way, you are giving them all a second chance at life
Dog adoption considerations
Anytime you adopt a dog, especially one that is already grown, you do run a risk of the unknown. Some shelters require home checks or socialization before finalizing and adoption, but not all do.
Also, many shelter dogs may be of mixed breed, and may carry breed traits you are trying to avoid (such as high energy, a kill drive, or herding instincts). Although it isn’t the dog’s fault if they exhibit these traits since they are normal for some breeds, it may be undesirable in some living or family situations. Because of this, the important factor in adoption is to not always adopt based on what an animal looks like- but how they behave.
One of the biggest reasons people consider a reputable breeder is predictability and accountability. Knowing a breed, parenting line, and socialization prior to purchase goes a long way towards having an animal that behaves in a manner you expect. This is especially helpful for households that have children. For example, specialized miniature breeds, such as the mini goldendoodle, are popular for family households and are carefully bred by responsible breeders.
Many breeders may also have beloved mature or older dogs that they had held back for a breeding program but didn’t use. Or a retired pet that has lived with the family, but they want to have the opportunity to live out the rest of their life with a loving family. These dogs are already well known and cared for and so you know exactly what you will be receiving. Plus, breeders will also generally take an animal back if the dog doesn’t work out for you, or something unexpected happens since they do not want their dogs to end up unwanted or in a shelter.
Dog breeders also keep detailed records of health and vaccinations. This is a very important factor to consider, especially if you are introducing a new dog to a household that already has pets.
Dog breeder considerations
Of course, not all breeders are the same, and you’ll need to do a little research in advance before choosing the best for you. Reputable breeders can often put you in touch with other families that have their dogs as reference, and will always be welcoming- and in fact most likely want to interview you to see if YOU are the best fit for their pups.
Buying from a breeder is not a cheap expense either. You may be asked to provide a down payment and sign a contract. Most breeders will also require you spay or neuter your pet, or will charge extra for papers if you plan to show or breed.
Dog breeding and accountability
Unfortunately, the last decade or so has focused so much on pet adoption, the term dog breeder has become almost synonymous with the negative term “puppy mill” in order to promote rescue pets. It is incredibly important to note these are incredibly different terms, and true dog breeders are amongst the most ethical and responsible pet owners in existence- and the terms should not be used synonymously with one another.
Puppy mills is a term used to define high-volume dog breeding that focuses on profit over dog health and breed responsibility. Many times the animals that come from these situations are sold to help fill the cages in pet stores, and may show signs of inbreeding to highlight specialized traits people are ignorantly shopping for (such as size or color). These animals are often kept in cages and are not exposed to socialization until sold.
Despite this, this doesn’t mean these animals do not deserve the love and care a responsible owner can give them. And negative marketing used to promote rescue only often leaves these animals homeless and fated to euthenasia.
Responsible dog breeders are a completely different situation, and these individuals breed out of love for a specific breed, or to help keep certain traits alive and healthy for those who use dogs for more than just companionship. Often, breeders may only have a litter or two per bitch a year and keep their dogs as companions; raising the puppies in their households so they become socialized to children and other pets before being sold to their new home.
Many people prefer a specific breed due to their traits- such as size and temperament – and buying from a reputable breeder helps avoid behavioral surprises down the road. Also, people around the world still depend on working dogs. Farmers and ranchers, for example, use dogs to guard livestock, gather animals, and help reduce workload- and not just any breed of dog is capable of this type of responsibility. Sportsmen, such as hunters, also depend on specific breeds to help flush or retrieve game.
No matter what you decide, just be sure to think ahead before commiting to a certain dog due to how they look, or how cute a puppy is. You want a companion for years, and not be forced to rethink your decision due to behavioral or health traits.