Lots of families decide to get a purebred puppy every day. But with the new Adopt-Don’t-Shop movement, is buying a puppy really responsible? Should you consider a rescue instead of a dog breeder?
I’m here to tell you that it is OK to buy a puppy from a dog breeder, IF you choose a breeder that breeds healthy, sound, and correct dogs. These are called “reputable dog breeders” or “responsible dog breeders.”
We want a breed that is difficult to find as a rescue.
Many breeds commonly end up in rescues. Looking for a Lab, Pit, or German Shepherd? Your family will certainly find a rescue, probably even a little puppy. You can find these puppies at rescues, shelters, and in the classifieds.
But what if your family settles on a rare breed? A breed like a Gordon Setter, Irish Terrier, or Cardigan Welsh Corgi? These breeds sometimes do end up in rescues, but most dog breeders carefully place puppies, so rescue pups are rare. There are about thirty breeds that are easy to find, but there are over two hundred that can be considered rare in rescue—and you’ll spend years on a waiting list.
Don’t consider this a downside to the breed. Remember, the dog breeders worked very hard to ensure that their puppies never end up in rescue, and they built a strong safety net for their breed. They’ve done good work to ensure their breed doesn’t end up in rescue, so there’s no shame in buying a puppy from a good breeder if rescue dogs or puppies simply aren’t available regularly.
We want to know our puppy will have a good temperament.
While environment definitely affects personality, temperament comes from a dog’s genes. What’s the difference? Temperament is how a dog reacts to things innately, and their personality is how they’ve learned to interpret their temperament. It’s a little bit like writing styles, except that it’s everything the dog does.
All dogs present a risk, but good dog breeders have more accurate information on the background of their dogs. Breeders know not just the dog and its parents, but they often know the dog’s grand and great-grand parents, and can give an accurate picture of the likely temperament. Having owned two breeder dogs and having handled and known many more, I can definitely vouch for the inheritability of temperament.
I don’t want baggage.
Sadly, adult dogs often come with some baggage. Usually, baggage is manageable. And often, people create baggage for the puppies we raise. But when families have a puppy, at least they know their puppy’s baggage.
Sometimes you can’t properly evaluate a dog in a shelter situation. The dog may not behave in a territorial manner because it doesn’t have a territory; maybe it hasn’t shown itself to mark corners because it hasn’t been in a house to mark. This does not by any means suggest that all rescues will have major baggage, it simply means that you don’t know a dog has issues until the dog demonstrates the behavior.
We want to participate in dog sports, and we need to know people.
This is a totally valid reason. You can compete in most dog sports with rescues or mixed-bred dogs, but a network of peers makes it easier. Often that social network comes from purchasing a purebred dog and falling in with the dog breeder and their friends.
In many breeds, breeders handle rescue operations and can help place a rescue with a good sport home, but not all breeds have this network in all areas. The only sport that can’t be played by mixed-breds or most rescues is conformation, and in that case it’s important to purchase a purebred from a reputable breeder.
If you are purchasing a dog from a breeder that competes in an event, your puppy already has an advantage, because the breeder has probably been conditioning the entire litter for that sport since the day they were born, and even bred specifically for behavior. Field breeders introduce their dogs to birds as babies, agility breeders introduce their dogs to moving underfoot toys.
Most dogs can excel at many sports, but you’ll have a distinct early advantage with a puppy from a breeder.
If the family’s previous dog suffered from an inherited condition, especially now that we can test for carrier status on so many diseases, the family may want more assurances in subsequent pets. If the disease caused pain to the dog, the family may want to avoid the emotional turmoil in the future.
It can be heartbreaking to lose a pet from a condition that could have been prevented had the dog breeder tested, and many families choose dogs from breeders to minimize the risk of congenital defects and chronic disease. While there are many conditions that cannot be tested for carrier status, dog breeders should test for diseases that appear frequently in their breed, and buyers should ensure that puppies come from tested stock.
So many people preach the theme of rescue, and rescues need the help of all pet owners and breeders. But not every family can accommodate the risks a rescue presents. Not every family can handle foster-to-forever situations, and just as with the dogs, the family’s background influences the personal level of risk.
A family should never feel shame after purchasing a puppy from a responsible breeder. Without supporting breeders, rarer breeds would become extinct.
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- How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder