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To Buy or Adopt A Dog?

Dogs are some of the most popular pets in the world. It isn’t hard to find one to bring into your home. However, many things should be considered when choosing a place to get your dog from. There are many rescues, shelters, and humane societies that house homeless pets, as well as pet stores and breeders who breed dogs for the purpose of selling them and in some cases, to improve the breed and compete in shows. This can be a very heated debate for many people due to the overpopulation of dogs we currently face. You must take into consideration whether it is best for you to adopt or buy a dog, and then consider where to adopt or buy.

Adopting a Dog

Adoption is a wonderful option for acquiring your new canine family member. There are millions of dogs who end up homeless each year. Many end up in shelters, rescues, and humane societies because of various reasons. Many times the dogs end up homeless because people haven’t tried to work through a situation or they weren’t truly committed to the care a dog requires. Sometimes people have not spayed or neutered their dogs and end up with litters they can’t care for. There are situations where there is no choice such as the death or homelessness of the owner. A large portion of dogs who end up homeless are then euthanized because there are not enough homes for them all. Adopting not only saves that dog’s life but opens a kennel for another homeless dog. Shelters that are no-kill and those rescues that can only rely on fosters and have no facility can save more lives, including those set to be euthanized soon, if their dogs are adopted.

Advantages

The wonderful thing about adopting is that you have a huge selection of breeds, mixes, sizes, coat types, ages, personalities, and even options for adopting already trained dogs. Most shelters do temperament assessments, spay/neuter the dogs, give vaccines, and will even start to train dogs. Adopting means you can pick a dog perfect for your home, based on the knowledge they already have about the dog and have come to know about the dog. You can ask if they are good with kids, other pets, other dogs, or if they have any special needs.

Even if your closest shelter doesn’t have the perfect dog for you, there are shelters and rescues all around that might. Sometimes you can get help with transporting a dog from one rescue to where you are. Most shelters and humane societies would prefer you to come in for a visit first, however. Also, it should be noted, adoption fees charged are charged because they have done a lot of veterinary care to prepare the dogs for adoption, as well as feeding, and spaying/neutering of the dogs. You rarely will find a shelter that charges a fee any higher than a breeder.

Most people think that dogs who have become homeless will all have issues of some sort, but more often than not they are wonderful dogs, and if they do have a behavioral issue, a trainer/behaviorist can help. Many people think that you only find adult or older dogs in shelters, when in fact, there are often puppies available as well. More often than not, you can even find purebreds, and breeds or mixes of breeds that you love. “Designer” type mixes like Shihpoos, Golden Doodles, Morkies, and the like, end up in shelters as well. Especially when a breeder has begun breeding these in hopes of making money and then can’t sell them all. If you have a breed preference, you will likely be able to find it in a shelter. Check your local shelters and also search on Petfinder.com. I have an Adoption Page on this site sharing dogs local to the general Omaha area available right now.

Buying a Dog

Sometimes people can’t seem to find just the breed they want in a local shelter, they want a rare breed, or they want to know the genetic makeup of their dog. Sometimes they want to get a dog that they can actually compete in dog shows with or need to train for a specific purpose. Whatever the reason a person chooses to buy a dog instead of adopt, there needs to be a large amount of research done. Unfortunately, since dogs are so popular, there are many people out there breeding them just to make money. Sometimes this results in greedy people who cage their dogs and require the mothers to have puppies over and over again as often as possible. Many times these dogs are in poor condition and live miserable lives. Puppies may even appear healthy at first but may get sick or even die later on due to improper care from the greedy breeder. These are usually labeled as backyard breeders, “greeders”, or puppy mills.

Breeders

In finding a breeder, you must be able to see the parents and see how the dogs are kept on the premises. All dogs should look healthy, have genetic testing done, should not be kept in small cages, and should be allowed exercise. Puppies need to have socialization from a young age and be friendly. They should be able to show you the puppy’s pedigree as well. Be wary of breeders who breed multiple breeds, always have puppies available, and charge outrageous prices with no proof of a reason.

Be wary of breeders who advertise a hypoallergenic breed, when in fact no dog can be hypoallergenic due to many allergies being irritated by skin dander or saliva rather than their hair. While certain breeds like Poodles and Bichons tend to not bother allergies as much, no living thing can be hypoallergenic. All dogs also shed, some just shed less, differently, or even into their own coat (like Poodles), requiring more grooming. Also mixing a dog with a Poodle or Bichon does not guarantee they won’t shed as much or not bother allergies. If you are looking for that, you are better off buying a purebred rather than a mix with these breeds.

You may also find breeders who advertise “teacup” dogs. These often are runts of the litter, or the parents were runts bred together to create smaller dogs. Many times these tiny dogs end up with health issues. If a dog is under 4 lbs full grown, you very likely will find yourself with a dog who ends up unhealthy or with a much shorter lifespan. Research the breed you are looking for and see the normal size for that breed (akc.org is a good source for that). Knowledge is key when buying or adopting. A breeder should also know a lot about the breed they are breeding. If they don’t, or they can’t even seem to spell the name correctly in the ad, be very cautious. The point of breeding dogs should always be to create a dog who fits the breed standard, even bettering the breed, not just to create dogs to sell.

Pet Stores

If you are at a pet store and decide to buy a puppy there, always remember many of these puppies come from puppy mills. The great breeders out there would never sell puppies to pet stores, but want to know who their puppies are going to because they aren’t doing it just for money. They even normally have contracts stating the pup will come back to them if you ever have to rehome. Pet stores often cannot take proper care of puppies, puppies don’t get the attention and training they need from a young age, and once they reach a certain age, are often discarded in various ways. Puppies should also never be an impulse buy because you saw it at the store and thought it was cute. They are a lot of responsibility. Thankfully, many states are starting to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores.

Conclusion

In the end, whether you are buying or adopting a dog or puppy, the important things to remember are, know how to properly care for a dog, be sure if you go with a breeder that you can meet the breeding dogs and see where they are kept, don’t pay for fancy names like “teacup” or “hypoallergenic”, and choose a dog who will fit in your home. Remember to take in all the facts and don’t act on impulse. You can read my Basic Dog Care post for a rundown of needs. I also suggest reading my Choosing A Breed of Dog post to get a general idea of different breeds and their requirements.

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