Breeder vs Rescue Shelter: Why I Chose the Former When Buying a Dog

Puppies in hands of breeders, via Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 18, 2023 by Dogster Team

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?

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

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