When you are looking to expand your family by adding a dog to the home, there are several different outlets. By far, the 2 most common ways to find a furry friend is through a breeder, or a rescue/shelter. Some of the common misconceptions about breeders vs. rescue is that breeders offer purebred puppies, and rescues offer dogs looking for a second chance, sometimes older dogs. Within my family, I have purchased, adopted, and rescued my three dogs respectively. Here is what I know.
Of the hundreds and hundreds of dogs that I have met, Sammy (my canine-assistant), is one of the most well-behaved and well-adjusted dogs I have ever known. Sam didn’t come from a breeder, he was humbly born in a local shelter. I was not even his first owner - my wife and I adopted him when he was about 6 mos old. Despite him being a mutt and a shelter dog, he persists as one of the best dogs I have ever known.
Since I have owned and worked with dogs that come from all different backgrounds, I have come to learn that dogs that come from ‘breeders’ are not superior in any way, despite common cultural misconceptions about dogs. A simple internet search in your area for “looking for puppies near me” or “dog breeders in my city” will provide this for you. The majority of results you’ll receive when you search will be backyard breeders, hobbyists, Amish breeders or 3rd Party sites or businesses that Broker for Puppy Mills. None of these groups are ones whom I would consider responsible breeders.
A responsible breeder is someone who has taken into account a few different non-negotiable, important considerations. The dogs who are being bred should be tested for genetic abnormalities, including recessive and dominant genes that cause dysfunction or disease. The breeder should have the test results to prove this. Furthermore, the breeders should be able to explain in very specific terms, why the male (sire) and female (bitch) were chosen as it pertains to temperament. Yes, training and socialization can affect the dog greatly, but temperament is the animals’ natural behavior and disposition. Lastly, what steps are the breeders doing for the puppies from ages 1-8 weeks for early socialization. One final note, most states have laws that restrict the sale or adoption of puppies prior to 8 weeks old.
A survey taken in 2013 of 1,000 people found that 46% of people would choose to purchase their pet from a breeder or store. The shocking truth is, dogs that come from breeders are not superior in any way compared to dogs from shelters or rescues. In fact, due to poor breeding practices, adopting a dog from a rescue may be a better option altogether due to the irresponsibility and profit mongering of most breeders. Most breeders are irresponsible because they don’t consider genetics, temperament, and socialization. They are simply breeding to make some extra cash on the side on the back of an animal. Contrarily, rescues and shelters in many cases are helping the animals from a socialization standpoint because they care for the animal, and are often times non-profit organizations. While behavioral history and socialization often times are the predominant factors in determining a dog’s behavior, temperament and genetics do play a critical role. This means that dogs from rescues which include well-educated people, may actually be better choices because of the care put into the animals mental and physical health.
So, what is the takeaway from this? Most breeders are irresponsible and do not consider genetics, temperament, and socialization as a well-rounded approach to breeding. Rescues and shelters take in dogs and care for them until they get adopted to a new home. Just like Sammy, who is my assistant and who was born in the shelter; he is one of the best dogs I have ever known and he didn’t come from a breeder.