If you've been considering getting a puppy, you have likely heard the phrase 'adopt, don't shop' more than once. And that is a very well intended phrase. There are a lot of dogs in shelters who could do very well in homes and will make wonderful friends when they find their forever homes.
However, the phrase itself flattens the discussion into something that lacks nuance. Sometimes, when you are looking for a dog, you are looking for breed specific characteristics and need to go a breeder to find the dog you need. In some cases, dogs with unknown backgrounds would be completely unsuitable for what you are looking for.
For example, you may need a dog who is not going to be gun shy. When you buy a puppy bred to be a gun dog and work with hunters, and they can spend their life working with hunters without being gun shy. Dogs who have a trauma response to loud noises can sometimes be trained to work with guns, but that is far from a certainty. A dog from a shelter with an unknown background will have a completely unknown ability to deal with loud noises like gunshots.
Livestock Guardian Dogs
Or you may need a LGD, a livestock guardian dog, and there are just some breeds that are not suited to this. The ideal traits in a LGD are bred into them and often cannot be trained. You cannot train a medium-sized dog enough to make up for the fact that they truly, in order to effectively do their task, need to be a much larger animal. LGDs often rely on their size to intimidate predators like wolves, coyotes, and wild cats. In addition, LGDs live outside all the time with the livestock. They do not work on command, because they are intended to protect the animals when there is no human present. This means LGDs need to have an instinct and be able to think independently. Finding these traits in a shelter dog is not impossible, but it will require a lot of work and you may end up going through several animals before finally finding the one that is right for your farm.
Setting all of this aside, shelters cannot offer the same health guarantees that breeders often can. Many breeders have contracts that have some guarantor of the animal's health or behavior.Breeder contracts will often contain guarantees against certain genetic issues which may otherwise plague a breed. The puppies have been bred specifically to be resistant to the genetic issue and possibly even tested to be sure.
Again, none of this is to say that there's anything wrong with adopting an animal from the shelter. There are many amazing mutts who have been adopted and have led very fulfilling lives, fulfilling the lives of their family on the way. It's just to posit that there are, in fact, times in which it is more appropriate to buy a dog, and that's okay. If you think you should buy a puppy, look for puppies for sale near you.Share