Why I Bought a Puppy From a Breeder Instead of Adopting From a Rescue or Shelter

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Happy National Puppy Day! I’m not sure what the proper way is to celebrate, but having a 12-week-old puppy in the house probably does the trick! After months of (secret) planning,  my partner and I recently brought home our newest fur baby — a Newfoundland puppy we named Sirius!

Puppy Sirius and big sister Charlotte. (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)
Puppy Sirius and big sister Charlotte. Photography by Sassafras Lowrey.

From the moment we announced Sirius’ arrival on social media, my partner and I were repeatedly asked, “Where did she come from?” It quickly became obvious that as an outspoken, socially progressive person, and parent to an older rescue dog and advocate for the needs of behaviorally special/reactive dogs, I would need to defend, or at least address, the elephant-sized dog in the room: Why we decided to grow our family by buying a purebred puppy from a breeder. 

I’m the first to admit that there is something uniquely magical about watching a rescue dog learn to play, trust and ultimately thrive with a new family. The two dogs I brought home before Sirius are/were rescues: Charlotte, my shepherd whose reactivity I have written about, and a behaviorally challenged Border Collie mix named Cosmo who passed away about 10 years ago. My 14-year-old Chihuahua mix, Mercury, is actually not a rescue, though people tend to assume he is. Because for the last decade my pack has been primarily been made up of mixed breeds and rescues, it’s easy for friends to have made the (inaccurate) assumption about my personal ethics/politics when it comes to dogs and breeding.

Sirius' first blizzard. (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)
Sirius’ first blizzard. Photography by Sassafras Lowrey.

Sirius was born in the home of a well-respected breeder who has dedicated her life to improving Newfoundlands as a breed. I am a huge supporter of rescue efforts, just as I am a supporter of responsible dog breeding (as opposed to puppy mills and backyard breeders). I really appreciate the work/preventative medical screenings/early socialization that goes into a puppy who comes from an experienced breeder, and I don’t think my support of rescue and of responsible breeding are at odds with each other. At the end of the day, I’m not a rescue person. First and foremost, I’m a dog person — regardless of where the dog comes from.

There was no question we were getting a Newfie, and I knew our best chance of finding the right one to blend into our big family (three cats, two other dogs) would be from a breeder. We wanted a puppy, in part because we haven’t had one in the home since my 14-year-old Chihuahua mix was young, and because after years of ongoing work to re-socialize Charlotte, we wanted a dog we could shape from the start through proper socialization. Stable temperament and generationally researched health also were extremely important to us since giant dogs already have shorter lifespans — we wanted our puppy to genetically have the best chance of a healthy adulthood.

Sirius is comfortable on her first shopping trip.

I don’t think that purebred dogs are inherently better than mixed breeds, and I certainly don’t love our new purebred puppy any more than my older mixed-breed dogs — but I’m also not ashamed of where she came from. At the end of the day, I adore my rescue dog (I literally just bought her a house) and will rescue again. There are tremendous benefits of getting a puppy who has never known anything but safety, having been born into the hands of a breeder who has dedicated decades to improving the quality of a particular breed and bringing healthy puppies into the world.

Want to see more of Sirius’ adventures growing up in Brooklyn? Follow her on Instagram.

What do you think? Have you ever bought a puppy from a breeder? Why did you choose to do so?

33 thoughts on “Why I Bought a Puppy From a Breeder Instead of Adopting From a Rescue or Shelter”

  1. I got my first dog from a breeder because we had a 3 year old at the time. We went with a breeder who specifically bred for temperament, not to have a show dog. I’ve always wanted to adopt, but I also knew what I wanted, and that was a schnauzer (or schnauzer mix) puppy/young dog. Whenever I saw the opportunity to adopt the dog was either not going to do well in my home or I was a number waiting in line. I had just sent an inquiry email to the woman I got my first schnauzer from and a day later, I saw a rescue puppy with the face of a schnauzer and the body of a German shepherd (my dad jokes that he looks like a GSD dressing as a schnauzer for Halloween!). I applied and drove a total of 27 hours round tip to get him. He was worth every minute of the ride and every penny (he wound up being more expensive than if I went with the breeder 🤪). I don’t think there is any shame in knowing what you want and seeking it out. If a liter of newfies showed up at a rescue, would you have adopted one? My guess would be “probably “, but you knew what you wanted and a breeder was the way to go. No one should be shaming your decision

  2. You are selfish. Why purchase one breed when there are hundreds to choose from and need homes in shelters. Again, you are a selfish person and the fact that you gave the impression that shelter dogs are a lot of work, or have “issues” speaks to the type of person you are. My shelter dog had no issues and no dog can go without any training. I’m sickened and disgusted at you and your decision to buy from a breeder after you have rescue dogs. That makes it even worse. You are horrible.

  3. Some of these comments sound like they came from my 19-year-old who lives in a very black and white world and whose vocabulary is fraught with sweeping generalizations. (“Always,” “Never,” and “ZERO reasons,” is seldom true.)

    I’ve been torn about buying from a breeder as all my dogs have been rescues. My husband and I are still planning to get another rescue. Our dog is 11 and beginning to have medical problems. But we’re also looking at breeders. After several months of trying to adopt a goldendoodle or a labradoodle we’ve found that breeders are our only option. Certainly, there are other dogs out there who have some of the qualities we need, but finding the size, temperament, personality, one that is hypoallergenic, and one that doesn’t shed has been a challenge. So, in a few months we will likely have both a new rescue and one from a breeder. We will love both of them equally and continue donating to support animal rescues.

  4. Reading this made me want to throw up. No, you’re no a dog person. You’re a selfish idiot that doesn’t care about anyone but yourself.

  5. Exactly! I wonder if all the “righteous dog rescuers” out there have also decided to forgo having biological children in favor of adoption. Seriously. You can’t have it both ways.

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  7. I could have written this article insert Westie for Newfoundland – I will make another point in that there are no Westie rescues in the 5 state area around me – I have had Westies for 30 years and I’m not interested in another breed and my last two were rescues and I don’t want to bring another dog into the home with my older rescue as I think a pup will not be a threat and according to my vet will or ivanka help him live longer. My breeder is a breeder of merit and a HEART breeder – at my age if something happens to me my breeder will take her back – she has dedicated her life to the continuation and health of the Westie breed – right now there are at least 29 breeds that have gone extinct due to lack of breeding – I could go in and on but in the end It’s a choice just like fostering or adopting children and yet no one gets shamed for not doing that and having their own children.

    1. This is how it was for me and finding a schnauzer! I had such a tough time finding one for adoption that would work in my home (got along with other dogs/kids, our work schedule,etc.)

  8. You didn’t even address the question that you posed in your title – why you decided to do it. There are literally ZERO reasons to go through a breeder, and the fact that people have as a profession breeding dogs and selling them for money is just despicable. Do you know that more than 1 million healthy dogs are put to death every year in this country because people like you go through a breeder? Just because you want a certain type of dog? I, and many people, have zero respect or sympathy for people who go through a breeder. Every time you look at the pages of local dogs in a shelter, you can think that many of them will be put to death, and you could have prevented it. Extremely selfish, callous and close-minded choice.

  9. Judy E Willoughby

    This situation hits home with me. We were rescued by a lab mix in 2008 who suddenly showed up on our door step with buck shot in her, beaten, starved and so skittish. We decided to keep her after no chip was found nor answers to lost/found. She was thought to be 1- 1 1/2 years old then.
    I will be the first to say our Angel was the best! How the heck someone could treat this sweet girl so horribly is beyond understanding! But it did not alter her personality. She was so good with my great niece and nephew who were also babies at the time. Pretty much house broken as well. Never tore anything up. Just lived up to her name Angel.
    We lost our sweet girl just this past week at 12 years old. My house is so empty and we are considering another baby to love. However, I am taking into consideration the rescue vs breeder. At 60 years old, I am not sure either my husband or myself can handle the “IFS” of a rescue dog not knowing what they have been through or health issues. We were beyond blessed with our Angel but she was a special dog. We may not get as lucky next time. I am leaning more towards a breeder puppy to start out for us as older couple to train and know the health backgrounds etc.
    I think it is a personal decision and an important one to weigh ALL possibilities and views. That makes a responsible owner when you know your own limitations in bringing a pet into your lives. There should not be any shame or regrets. You decide on what is best for you, your family and the pet you choose.
    JMHO

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  11. I love rescue and run one! But I am not a rescue Nazi! Here in america we have freedom. Yes 2 of my own dogs are rescues but. You can say 5 because our rescue has 3 very special needs dog that are very hard to place. We’ll have then quite a while. I also bought a newfie (to he trained for service work) this works for me, I chose this life. I think you have the right to do the same. Follow you heart not some else. Judgement is only the lord’s not some rescue nazi

  12. I think it’s cool that you have rescues and breeder dogs (all pups need love!) . I have 3 dogs and 1 of them is a rescue but you would have never known because he’s very social now. I actually wanted my 3rd pup to be a rescue too but I encountered so many hurdles w/several rescue groups. I was denied adoption for working a full time job, denied for not living within a specific mile radius of the rescue, and some rescue groups just never responded at all after I filled out lengthy applications (some rescues also didn’t have a contact phone numbers and did not reply to emails).

    It was very discouraging because I know I’m a great pet parent and have the means to provide for my animals (love, time, money). After several rejections I got my 3rd pup from a responsible breeder and have no regrets. I will definitely try rescues again in the future but this time around just wasn’t meant to be. My 3rd little guy fits right into our little family 🙂

    1. I had a similar experience.

      I did require a poodle mix because I know this is helpful for my allergies. However, I was denied adoption because, although I was home all day at the time, I couldn’t guarantee that I would be for the lifetime of the dog! I mean, how can I say 100% that I will never have to work outside my home?

      Anyhow, I ended up buying from a responsible breeder. I’d still love to adopt in the future, but will probably have to plan to adopt from out of state. I have lived in other states where it seemed adopting would easier; however, I was unable to have a dog at the time and was just volunteering at shelters. In the future, if I try to adopt, I know the hurdles may be great, but I’ve done more research to figure out how I can adopt more easily in the future. I think for my first pup, I just found it too frustrating to try to overcome.

  13. Pingback: Why I Bought a Puppy From a Breeder Instead of Adopting From a Rescue or Shelter – dogcaz.com

  14. We have had added dogs to our family both ways – through a breeder and through local rescue groups that pulled our dogs from county kill shelters. I have even knowingly stolen a dog who was used/abused as a breeding female after she crossed 6 lanes of a busy highway in an attempt to get away, and would most definitely do it again. I understand why people choose breeders: they want to start fresh with a “pure” puppy, who looks a certain way, raised in a controlled environment. The thing is, you never know what you’re going to get – no matter how reputable the breeder or how much you paid. Anecdotally, the dogs we have had the highest vet bills for (and the most random and expensive medical problems) are our purebreds. Our rescue dogs have no issues (behavioral or otherwise) and are just happy to have love.

    Our family will never buy a dog again. Period. We live in the South where people are so irresponsible that they just let their dogs roam and breed. Roam and breed. That equals THOUSANDS of dumped puppies in our rural county shelters. Because they don’t have the “look” that people want – and would pay a breeder for – they are often euthanized before they ever get a chance at a home. Knowing this reality, I can’t help but think that people who still choose breeders over shelters are making a selfish choice, whether they realize it or not.

    1. The south part of the country seems to be a lot different from the north part of the country. I haven’t been able to find a kill shelter anywhere near me. Every single one of them are no-kill. So in my situation it isn’t actually saving a life, it would have been adopted anyway.

  15. Responsible breeder is mostly an oxymoron these days. I fail to see the positive side of buying versus adopting. There are millions of dogs euthanized every year that would’ve made wonderful pets and companions. The majority of breeders care more about money and the majority of rescues care more about dog’s lives. Yes, there are bad exceptions on either side but how can wanting a purebred from a breeder not be selfish and immoral when thousands of innocent lives pay for that privilege??

  16. I feel like a critical response to this post is appropriate. This is a long post and it would be unfair to demand I comment on every point raised in this comment.

    But, in short – this misses a critical point. Adopting out of a rescue saves lives. Buying a dog from a breeder promotes unnecessary breeding.

    There are so many ways to accomplish the goals articulated in this post justifying buying a dog that can be done through a rescue. It tends to just take a bit of work. Work these dogs deserve. Please just think twice before buying over adopting.

    1. I have been trying and waiting to find a hypoallergenic dog at the rescue places for 3 years now…I need a small one due to apt mgr restrictions so I have given up. All the dogs at the shelters are HUGE and none are hypoallergenic what is a senior citizen to do. I cannot afford to pay a breeder either so here I am lonely in San Diego

  17. I am currently in the exact same situation! My cat and older dog are rescues, I fought against puppy mills and was even interviewed for TV. But when I bought from a responsible breeder because I wanted a healthy well bred puppy (I hadn’t as an adult ever had a young puppy), I got the stink eye and cold shoulder. Even from people I am close to, I didn’t mention getting a dog before hand because I knew what would happen and that people would try to guilt me into a rescue. It really bothers me that I have to defend giving a puppy a loving home!

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  19. If I was looking for a dog just as a pet, I would most certainly consider a rescue. But…my pom is a psychiatric service dog. I did a lot of research, my only pre-existing parameters being under 10 pounds with a long coat. I knew what I needed in a dog, I knew that buying from a breeder I could be sure to get a dog that would meet my specific needs. You never know with a rescue, even if they are apparently pure bred you don’t know what their emotional state has been through their life. I needed a dog with a long life as change is hard for me. My previous dog died at 7 of meningitis, not something common for this breeder. My current dog is 9. There are positive and negatives to both pure=breds and rescues. Just don’t buy from a pet store/puppy mill/backyard breeder.

  20. Every once in a while I need a read like this. When I see comments like “only rescue”. We spent years researching and waiting until we were in a place in our lives with our family that we could provide a stable home for our family dog (my husbands work took us overseas for a time). During those years, we spent a lot of time learning about responsible breeders. We made the decision to get a purebred through a responsible breeder. I urge everyone to do their research first. Know what “responsible breeder” means. Our family was put through an interview process, and an application process, we were able to come into the breeders home to see how she and her dogs lived, she had extensive records of all of her dogs and their lineage. For a year after we got our puppy, we were not full owners. She was local and would groom him for us. Under that contract we were required to send pictures and updates to her. At anytime during his life, she will take him back should the need arise. If I have any questions or concerns, I can contact her at anytime. These are all requirements I expected from a responsible breeder. I know that every puppy born in her home was well thought out beforehand. She loves her dogs and she loves the breed. By buying through a responsible breeder, my dog has an extremely high likelihood of being healthy.

    One of my fears was adopting a dog with numerous health issues that we would be unaware of and then having to tell my children that we had to give him back to the humane society because we simply could not afford the constant vet costs. Also, not know the dogs past life and how they react in social situations. It’s for this very same reason that I find people who adopt extremely noble. There is a place for both in this world.

    1. one more thing I left out. Also, responsible breeders have a very very small likelihood of contributing to any more dogs being placed in shelters.

  21. I’ve been searching for articles to try and understand the potential pros of dog breeding, and I’m still not understanding this. I can definitely appreciate responsible dog breeding. I’ve read about it, and it seems these people rarely make any profit after everything they put into it and do it solely for the love of it and to improve a breed. They really take care of their dogs. But there are so many irresponsible dog breeders, and people are still supporting them. Besides that, my biggest problem is the millions of dogs being euthanized…why does our desire to have a certain dog make it okay to let so many die so you can have exactly what you desire? I think that I would be completely okay with people buying dogs from responsible breeders if we didn’t have such a huge epidemic of homeless animals being put to sleep. Let me know your thoughts though.

  22. This is me. I’ve retyped my comments numerous times because I could go in-depth. I would love to talk more, but couldn’t find a direct email to you.

    Long story short, I have a rescue, but I have a deposit down for a pure bred puppy. I love rescues, but I also appreciate the beauty of pure breds and think it’s important to keep the breeds existing. The bad rap I think is from backyard breeders like you said, or people who neglect to fix their dog and they wind up getting pregnant.

    Feel free to email me. I’d love to go more in-depth and learn more from your experience.

  23. I like how you talked about how you were a big supporter of rescue but also responsible dog breeding. We are looking into buying a puppy for my son this year. Thank you for the information on purchasing a puppy from a breeder.

    1. “Buying a puppy”. Just think of how sickening that sounds, knowing how many wonderful puppies are out there that come from the south who are incredibly cute and deserving of life. “Buying a puppy”. You are truly a sickening and close minded human being

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