Spoiler alert: There is no simple, right or wrong answer to this question. There is only the right choice for you. You get to make it.
If you do your research thoroughly on sources and you’re willing to keep your mind open about where your new bff will come from as you do it, then you can be sure you’re making an informed decision. Responsible, reputable adoption centers and responsible, reputable breeders can both serve a role in helping us make sound decisions when it comes to acquiring a dog; your willingness to explore both routes just empowers you. Here are some points to consider about each as you go about your search.
Adopting: What to Consider
One major benefit of adoption is that you get to save two lives – the life of the dog that you adopt, and the next dog who needs that space in the shelter. Over a quarter million dogs and cats enter Canadian animal shelters every year, and over 100,000 are euthanized. The reward of saving and raising a pup who truly needs you is so important.
Another perk of adopting a pup: You’ll save a lot of money. Most shelters will generally charge between $100 – $300, which can include the animal being spayed or neutered, vaccinations, deworming, flea treatment, microchip identification implant, and potentially, some pet insurance.
On the downside, some adoptions centres may not be able to disclose everything about the dog you want to adopt. So, while his or her breed, birthday, and overall history may be a mystery, and you won’t necessarily get to choose the exact breed you would like, this doesn’t mean you won’t be happy. As with any source, your efforts to make sure you go with a reputable one will help prevent you running into any major surprises.
Another point to consider is that you’ll have to fill out some paperwork and you may run up against some prohibitive restrictions. Shelters want to know the homes their animals are going to are safe and secure – all organizations have specific requirements, and some of them, you may not meet. Find these out beforehand to avoid a disappointment or a delay. You may need to exercise patience.
Going with a Breeder: What to Consider
Those who choose this route likely have a specific breed in mind. When you get a dog from a breeder or a pet store, what you see is more or less what you get. In addition to choosing your breed, you’ll also get to see the dog’s parents, and will have an idea of what kind of dog it’ll grow into. Additionally, a dog purchased from a reputable breeder who takes pride in their work may come with a promise of lifetime support, which can be reassuring for a new owner.
Another reason many choose this route is that they get to be their pet’s first human partner, and they can be the first to socialize him or her. Having this heightened sense of control, and having a sense of their basic history may also take the pressure off of first-time dog owners.
In general, finding a truly responsible, reputable breeder who meets your requirements (here’s a list of questions you might ask) requires a lot of research. Purebred dogs may have desirable traits, like predictable behaviour and appearance, but some can have health problems that come with their specific breed. You want to be sure you’re supporting a breeder who is bringing healthy, well-supported animals into the world, and of course, ensure you’re getting one yourself. Check out some red flags you might watch out for when looking for a breeder.
Breeders are typically much more expensive than getting your dog from a shelter. Depending on the location and breed, breeders can run upward of $1500 for a puppy – that’s not including all the other costs associated with acquiring a new pet. Regardless of the initial price, a pet is a big investment, but going this route can definitely ramp up the overall cost.
This is a big decision, and the choice is your own! Whichever one you decide, do make a point to dive into all the specifics that matter to you – and think outside the box. What might matter to someone else may not really matter much to you. Owning a dog is optional. Your choice to do it, and how you do it, starts and ends with you. Empower yourself with all the knowledge you need.