Friday, April 10, 2009

Adoption vs. Purchasing From A Breeder

When it comes to getting a new dog there are two options: purchase from a breeder or pet store or adopt from a shelter, rescue, rehoming ad, etc. I strongly urge my readers to never purchase a dog or puppy from a pet store, because these puppies are almost always from puppy mills or extremely high volume, for profit breeders. By purchasing from a pet store you are financially supporting the practice of puppy mills, and encouraging it to continue, and you are purchasing an irresponsibly bred dog, which can lead to health problems and high vet bills.

There are pros and cons to adopting and pros and cons to purchasing a dog from a breeder. Some organizations and individuals will tell you never to purchase from a breeder, while others will encourage purchasing from a breeder. It’s a tough call, especially with thousands upon thousands of homeless animals in this country.

I can not say enough wonderful things about adoption. There is the exact dog you are looking for in a shelter somewhere, and usually that shelter is within a five hour drive of your home. There are purebreds (many with papers), there are mixed breeds, designer dogs, small dogs, young dogs, old dogs, trained dogs, and yes, even dogs that have won championships in various competitions like agility are out there looking for their forever home. If you look, you can find a dog in a shelter that is exactly what you are looking for. I found Milly, and since adopting her I have come across countless amazingly trained, perfectly socialized wonderful dogs in shelters.

However, there are times when purchasing from a responsible breeder is also the right choice. I am an advocate of purebred dogs, and I believe in preserving the breeds through responsible breeding. Right now I am planning on purchasing a puppy from a breeder in the very near future. I would love to get involved in AKC sanctioned competitions, particularly showing in conformation, obedience and agility. In order to do this I not only need an AKC registered dog, but also need an exceptionally well bred dog. I have spent two years researching the breed I want and finding a good breeder, and am currently on the waiting list for a puppy (expected breeding sometime this month!). Purchasing from a breeder or adopting a purebred dog gives you a sense of what your dog will be like because of known breed traits, but do keep in mind all dogs are individuals, and a purebred dog is no better or smarter than a mixed breed dog when it comes to having an amazing companion. You can still take part in obedience, agility and other fun dog activities with a mixed breed dog.

With all this said, I am very against irresponsible breeding. If you are purchasing from a breeder who truly is breeding dogs to the breed standard set out by the governing organization (in this country the AKC, Canada the CKC, Europe the UKC) you are helping preserve the breed. A responsible breeder will have planned the breeding well in advance, having researched the pedigrees of both parents, looked at health records for multiple generations, done health clearances on both parents (and usually health clearances going back multiple generations) and taken into account how this mating will better the breed. A responsible breeder does not breed their pet, because it is a sweet dog and people would want puppies like their pet. A responsible breeder also does not simply breed two successful or pretty dogs and expect amazing puppies, but instead really considers what traits these dogs have, and how these traits have been passed down in previous generations. A responsible breeder breeds for temperament, conformation, and brains by constantly striving for the whole picture in their puppies.

Breeding for profit, or breeding just to have cute puppies is part of the reason there are so many homeless dogs in this country. A responsible breeder usually will have sold every puppy before they are born, and often have a long waiting list for puppies before the breeding ever takes place! In my case, I am on the waiting list and have been for months for a puppy whose parents have not been bred, and most likely every puppy that will be born is already reserved! To prevent homelessness in the puppies they sell, a responsible breeder will have a clause in their sales contract stating that if at any time in the dog’s life the owner is no longer willing or able to care for the dog it must be returned to the breeder who will give it a forever home, and cannot be given away or put up for adoption. This ensures forever homes for every single puppy ever whelped.

If you find yourself thinking about purchasing a dog because the breeder is selling it for about the same as an adoption fee from a rescue, purchasing a dog because you want a puppy right away, purchasing a dog from the internet, or purchasing a dog because you want papers you are probably purchasing for the wrong reasons. Please always do your research before buying a dog. There are thousands upon thousands of irresponsible breeders in this country. For every 100 irresponsible breeders there is maybe one (but probably less than one) truly responsibly breeder. Irresponsible breeding often leads to homeless animals. So before you buy that puppy, please do your research, and take a look at all of the animals in your local shelter.

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