Adopting vs. Shopping for Dogs

Skylar Dial
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Finding Your New Friend

If you want to find a great dog to become part of your family, you have a number of options to choose from:

Puppies, which are cute and playful, require a lot of time, effort and love to train.

Teenagers, which are more independent, can be a great fit for single or empty-nester families.

Older dogs and senior dogs, including purebreds, mutts and mixed-breeds are also a great choice for families of all sizes.

If you are interested in adopting a dog, the first thing you need is a lot of patience. Chances are you won’t find a dog at the animal shelter or pet rescue center immediately. You might even end up waiting weeks or months until the right dog for you comes along.

The initial cost of bringing a dog into your home isn’t negligible. You’ll need to invest in some supplies like food, bowls, a collar and leash. Plus, there are health and spaying/neutering costs. You can save money by adopting an adult dog if you are willing to wait it out.

Why Purchase a Dog Instead of Adopting?

The sheer number of dogs in need of a home is staggering. Saline County Animal Shelter for instance, had more than 400 dogs alone. These dogs included purebreds and mixes of all shapes, sizes, and ages, piled one on top of the other. Some were wagging their tails, while others just stared at you blankly. They all had one thing in common … they were in dire need of a home.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats enter shelters in the United States annually and approximately 25 percent of them will be euthanized. Animal shelters have become the nation’s leading animal rescue organizations. However, not everyone can foster or adopt an animal, particularly if you have allergies and/or lifestyle restrictions (e.g., you live in an apartment, only have a yard, don’t want the expense, etc.). With that in mind, for people interested in buying a dog, their only option is to purchase a purebred dog or puppy.

So why should someone buy a purebred or puppy when millions of dogs are in need of a home? Is it fair for someone to think about a puppy in the same way as they do an inanimate object? Humans place a lot of value on things and most people believe their dog is part of the family, not a living object.

When to Adopt or Rescue

One starting point for deciding which type of dog you should have is thinking about where you are going to live. Do you have enough space to raise a large breed? Are you going to be traveling a lot? Are you going to move in the near future? Do you like to go camping or walking in the woods with your dog? These are just some of the questions that you have to ask yourself in order to make the right decision.

Regardless of when you consider adopting your pet, you will soon realize that there are a lot of breeds to choose from and you will not have enough space to raise all of them, regardless of whether you will be getting a puppy or a rescue dog. When I started doing some research on the topic, I found out that some rescue organizations don’t even want you to bring the dog back if you decide that you do not feel like you can provide the proper environment for them, which makes the adoption process even more appealing as you can try without being forced to bring a dog back. There are also some shelters, which do not allow you to take the dog home until you have actually adopted it, many pet shops will not sell to you if they know that you are getting a dog and if you are in the market for a purebred dog, you can go to a dog show, where you might find some dog breeders that would be happy to allow you to raise their puppies in your home.

OK, You’ve Chosen a Possible Pet … What’s Next?

Your mind is made up, you're ready to get a dog but where do you start? So many people believe that they can't possibly be ready for a dog until they move into a house.

That isn't the case for many of us, moving house is a tiresome, time consuming ordeal as is and adding the challenge of a new dog makes for a very stressful event.

So where do you start?

Thinking about your options is the fist step. Then you have to choose a type of dog for you and your family.

Your next decision…should you adopt a dog or should you go to a breeder? Adopting a dog has many steps and one great step is the first step where you decide to be a responsible dog owner.

We are not here to sway you to either decision you are at this page because you have decided that you have had enough of being a dog owner and are ready for bigger and better things.

Good for you!

Here are a few things to do to get you started.

Find out how to get your dog from the shelter or shelter near you. If you know how to get a dog from the shelter you may be closer than you think to finding your next dog.

Health Differences in Adopted vs. Purchased Dogs

When it comes to pregnancy and health issues, there's a lot to consider. But when it comes to dogs, things are a little different.

First, a dog is a living thing, whereas humans are human beings. This makes reasoning things out and comparing statistics a little different.

Secondly, "Shelter Syndrome" can make adopted dogs significantly more unhealthy than dogs purchased from a breeder.

So what's up with this "Shelter Syndrome"?

When animals get into a shelter, they are stressed and nervous. The uncertainty of their situation is foremost on their mind. They are anxious and worried about their state and sometimes given up when they start to get sick. As a result, animals who are brought to shelters are much more frequently sick upon admission.

This isn't exclusive to dogs – for instance, more birds, dogs, tortoises, mice, gerbils, and hamsters are surrendered to shelters than adopted.

There are two ways for animal owners to combat this unhealthy effect. The first is to bring the animal to an experienced shelter. Shelters that receive animals who get along with each other are less likely to exhibit symptoms of unhealthy stress.

Dog Owners Hold Strong Opinions on Adoption

Vs. Shopping

From a time before Ancient Egypt to a dog-centered modern day, humans have had a close relationship with dogs.

Dogs were so valued thousands of years ago that in Egyptian culture they were used for everything from hunting to defense. They had a position of importance in the village that put them second only to the pharaoh. Some hailed Fido as a deity.

Expanding the Family

Many animal shelters and rescue organizations, encourage their adopters to bring home an animal that requires their love and compassion.

Some dogs are the perfect match for a family because they are highly energetic and love children, while other dogs are ideal for a family of two empty-nesters or those without pets.

Even if you don’t have a dog at home, you can always consider adopting from your local animal shelter or animal shelter.

The good news is the longer animals are at an animal shelter, the more likely they are to be adopted. In many cases, it’s just a matter of time before the right adopter comes along.

While adoption agencies take great care to help get the animals ready for adoption; you have to take on the responsibility to get the new dog acclimated to your home and routine.

{1}. How did you hear about adoptions?
{2}. Are you planning to adopt an animal?
{3}. What made you decide to adopt an animal?
{4}. Did your landlord approve of your decision?
{5}. Why do you like adopting animals and not buying from a pet store?
{6}. Can you please tell us if you adopted or bought from a breeder or pet store?
{7}. How much time did you invest in looking for your pet?


Adopting a Dog vs. Buying in a Puppy Shop or Online

The first thing you should do in order to adopt your next dog is to consider some practical things like the space you have in your home, what your daily routines are and if you have time to spend every day developing your dog's social skills.

For example I have two Jack Russell Terriers. Therefore, I try to take them to the dog park every day, play fetch and train. Although it’s a lot of work, I’m really enjoying because they’re my dogs and love them as part of the family. But if you have a job or simply don't want the hassle of being a dog owner, adopting a dog is totally worth thinking about.

The other reason put forth by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is that many people treat their dogs like designer goods. This means they get bored with the dog as soon as it grows up.

Personally I prefer adopting a dog because I enjoy them for their companionship. However, considering that in the UK an Applied Animal Behaviour and Training Society survey found that one in three families who buy a puppy from a pet shop or breeder get rid of it in less than six months, it's time we put this option to bed.


The information in the following table was obtained through a survey of adoption hopefuls in a nearby city over a two week period.


If you are thinking about adopting a dog or for whatever reason have decided to go the shelter or rescue route, you should know that some shelters can be full of troubled dogs. Some of these dogs have been abused, neglected, or are suffering from separation anxiety and/or injury, and they might have a variety of health issues or defects.

If you want to keep things simple and are looking for a dog that you can take home and immediately love unconditionally, this might work for you. But if you are looking for a dog that you can train, trust, and travel with or that you can use as a service dog, the shelter route may not be your best option.

If you are looking for a perfectly behaved, healthy, and well-trained pooch to take home, look to a reputable dog breeder or a quality dog training school.

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I am a dog breeder, I do not work for, or represent any dog breeders or kennels.