I strongly believe in rescuing dogs from shelters, though there is a place for responsible breeders too. I know some may not agree, but hear me out. There are pros to each avenue, so it really comes down to your needs and what fits your lifestyle and beliefs.
The pro of a shelter dog is first and foremost – you save a life! How amazing is that?! The gratitude you get from that dog will be like no other. I rescued my first dog, Kya, from the pound in Denton, TX and that dog would do anything for me. Now that I think about it – I would for her too. We had a special bond and her ashes will be spread with mine. If you rescue from a shelter all the vetting is complete. Not having to pay for the spay/neuter and shots will save you hundreds of dollars. The range of personalities and experiences of rescue dogs is astronomical. It’s incredibly important to make sure you pick the right dog. Some dogs will be incredibly timid at the shelter, but once they have been in their new home for a while a different dog may appear. When the dog feels safe and confident their true personality comes out – which could be a good thing, however sometimes it presents new challenges. I had a dog walking client who adopted a dog with severe fear aggression — which I’m assuming was caused as a result of whatever happened in the dog’s past (poor thing). I used every method I knew of over the next several weeks, but had to refuse to walk him to save myself from being bitten. The owners were so sweet and tried other walkers, trainers, everything. They ended up having to medicate the dog to alleviate the problem. Many dogs can be rehabilitated – some can’t. I’ve found fear aggression and bad habits are the top two issues. In contradiction to that – some dogs have already had some training and are house broken which is a huge bonus. Some shelters will have some background for the dog, but not always, so size and behaviors are an unknown.
There are several pros to getting a puppy from a responsible breeder. One is predictability – you know what the breed’s temperament, size, and appearance will be. You will even be able to meet the parents of your puppy. If you have an affinity for a specific breed it is likely you won’t find one in a shelter, so going through a breeder is your best option. (Note: sometimes you can find a specific breed in a shelter – it depends on the breed and they can be challenging to find) Responsible breeders have a passion for their breed and work hard to achieve high standards with their litters. They search for champions, test for potential problems, and examine family trees to make sure inbreeding does NOT occur. Getting a puppy is starting with a CLEAN slate to mold, guide, and teach from scratch. A responsible breeder will start the potty training and socialization from day one and will help you to prepare your home. This is setting you up for success, though no doubt about it – a puppy is WORK! Many times our dog walking service is hired to help with the potty training. As they say – it takes a village! A responsible breeder will be your support system and help you in every way they can throughout your dog’s life. Since they know the breed so well they can tell you things to watch out for ie. they sunburn easily, love water, or are prone to eye infections. “It’s important to understand that responsible breeders do not contribute to the situation of homeless pets in shelters. In fact, they support breed-rescue efforts that help those dogs and are often actively involved in transport, fostering, and placement of rescued dogs.” (SOURCE) A responsible breeder will take back, and/or help you find a new home if it is necessary. “Responsible dog breeders do not cause pet overpopulation. Irresponsible dog owners do, whether they breed their dogs deliberately, or don’t bother to neuter their dogs in the first place.” (SOURCE)
Some say there are enough dogs out there – why breed more? I used to be one of those people, but after 10 years in the pet industry, I’ve seen a lot and have had many experiences. I respect responsible breeders and believe they have a place. They foster the integrity of the breed and share their history. I’ve always loved the Great Dane and the American Bulldog and when I see them running full speed I sometimes imagine their ancestors working on the farm and in the fields. The dog is an amazing animal and if you like them – I like you.
Happy tails and trails,
Amy & Bette Fiala
Kya – my Great Dane mix rescue – RIP
Bette my American Bulldog from a responsible breeder