You want a dog, but where to get one?

Related to my last post regarding purchasing dogs from breeders, I’d like to talk about my beliefs regarding where a person should get a dog based on their wants/needs. These are my suggestions and by no means gospel law.  But after a long time in dogs and having had many dogs from many different sources, these are more or less the guidelines I’ve come up with for those looking to bring a dog into their family.  I’m not going to get into all the prep and consideration that MUST come before you even decide you want a dog, but once you’ve settled on it and know what you are looking for in a dog, here are my suggestions.

Breeder, shelter/rescue, other?

What are the circumstances in which it may be ethical to purchase a pup from a breeder? Well, here are some circumstances:
  • The breed/type/bloodline you would like is not available in shelters or rescues
  • You have a very specific need or want in a dog, i.e. a service dog that needs to perform specialized tasks and will be required to have a temperament that may have taken generations in a closed gene pool to develope (i.e. very difficult to get a random-bred dog that will make it as a service dog when even purpose bred dogs wash-out on a large scale)
  • Showing in conformation is something you want to do – for this you must have a registered, purebred dog.
  • You want to compete in dog sports.  Yes, there are many rescue or shelter dogs that would be able to be registered on a limited basis to compete in canine sports, but for people who are deeply involved at a high level, a purebred, purpose bred dog is often needed.
  • You are a breed fancier (which rescue people often have a difficult time understanding, when many don’t care about specific breeds and only see “dogs”, i.e. no breed), are a student of bloodlines, want a purebred dog because you love your breed and a dog from a shelter of unknown heritage is just not what you want.
  • A caveat applies to all of the above:  you purchase from a very ethical breeder who knows what they are doing.
What circumstances would best warrant a dog from a rescue or shelter?
  • You want a dog that is a family companion. I.E. MOST people.
What are some reasons a person may end up with a dog from a breeder, when they could have done very well with a dog from a shelter/rescue?
  • NO response back from rescue groups. Although it appears rescues are generally begging all over social media for people to adopt their dogs, believe it or not many people who inquire about adoptable dogs don’t even get a reply back.
  • Being repeatedly denied by rescues/shelters when you try to adopt a dog. I.E. you don’t have a fenced in yard, rent instead of own (even with landlord approval), are a first timer, etc.
  • Lack of reputable rescues/shelters in your area.  Dogs in the system should be matched with the appropriate home with follow up from the agency placing them as well as recommendation that if the dog does not work out, it is to be returned to the agency.
What sources should you avoid getting a dog from in general?
  • No matter what, please stay away from pet stores. In most states, the dogs sold in pet stores are puppy mill dogs that come with myriad health and behavioral baggage.
  • Random Craigslists ads. Although good dogs exist and need homes, there are a lot of shady breeders and scammers on CL.  If you go the CL route, use caution. You CAN find great dogs on CL that come from nice homes who simply cannot care for them any longer.  Generally stay away but if you must scan this source, use caution, ask questions (I’m here to help!), and don’t accept answers that seem odd or jar your warning radar into high gear.
  • Internet Breeders aka digital puppy mills. These are puppy mills with many breeds coming from one breeder, that ship dogs sight unseen to people all over the world with a credit card. Just drop a dog in your shopping cart, enter your CC info, and you’ll be shipped a puppy. PLEASE stay away at all costs.
  • Breeders – Ok so SOME breeders are awesome and as per my suggestions above, you MAY need/want to go the breeder route but seriously, SO many bad breeders will sell bad puppies for thousands of dollars. Bottom line is, know your desired breed, bloodline, specifications for whatever your need is, and ask around for references/suggestions. BE CAUTIOUS.

There are so many great dogs out there just waiting for homes. Please consider a rescued dog first and foremost but also know that the most important thing is that you find the RIGHT dog for you and your specific situation. So that means you may have to go a route other than rescue. And guess what? That’s ok!  My desire is to steer people towards a source that is most likely to meet their needs. I do not want to see people buying dogs from scammy breeders or adopting from shady back-of-the-van rescue operations.  I want people to recognize that the dog they want is out there from the right source. If all the people who simply wanted a good family dog went the adoption route, the number of homeless dogs would plummet. THAT is my desire. But in the mean time, if people who want a dog of a specific type for a specialized task, I’m more than happy to have those people look into reputable, ethical breeders.

The goal is ALL dogs in the RIGHT homes. There are enough homes ready and willing and able to bring a dog into their care.  And I”m on the other end of the spectrum, helping people keep their dogs, live in harmony, and avoid the need to rehome/replace a dog because of a bad fit and/or temperament/behavioral issues.  The right source really helps eliminate the cycle of dogs going (back) into the system, and the right support when they are in the home is essential.


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