What Side Do You Stand on the Great Dog Debate: Rescue vs Breeder?

What Side Do You Stand on the Great Dog Debate: Rescue vs Breeder?

If you’re a member of Facebook groups for pets, you may have seen people push the #AdoptDontShop agenda on people who just want to welcome a dog into their family. Where do you stand on this debate? Read our thoughts on both sides of the rescue vs breeder debate right here!

If you’re thinking of getting a dog then you’ll have heard the phrase ‘adopt don’t shop’ a lot. Do you know your options?

The rescue vs breeder debate has continued for years between dog lovers, because both routes to dog ownership have their advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of adopting a dog versus buying a puppy, so that you can find out which route is best for you.

Are You Ready for a Dog?

Before you go to the shelter or visit a breeder, it’s important to make sure you’re really ready for a dog. The HSUS sees thousands of dogs every year abandoned because owners get a pet dog before they’re truly ready.

While canines add a lot of joy to any family, they are hard work. Knowing what you can – and can’t – realistically provide a dog will help you decide whether now is the right time to get one.

Think about these things, and it’ll also help you choose a breed type that suits your lifestyle!


Do you like having a lie in at the weekend? Then a dog is not for you.

Dogs love to get up early in the morning and have a good run around. They need time and attention throughout the day, and you’ll need to play with them in the evenings too.

Do you work really long hours? If your dog is being left alone for long periods, then now isn’t ideal for you to have a pet. You need to be able to let them outside for fresh air and potty breaks, and provide them with plenty of attention.

A bored dog becomes a destructive one. It’s important to make sure you have the time to spend with your dog to keep them occupied and happy.


Are you ready to spend time testing your patience with the basic obedience and potty training every puppy needs to learn?

A young puppy will learn fast but you need to continue to reinforce your training over time if you want a well-behaved pet.


Do you live in a studio apartment or on several acres of land? The space you have doesn’t necessarily restrict you from getting a dog, but it’ll impact on the best breed types for your living situation.

Do you have a garden, or is there a nearby dog park or outdoor space for your dog to run around in? External space is just as important when you’re thinking about whether to get a dog.

They need plenty of opportunities to run around and let off some steam!

Exercise Ability

If you have limited mobility or a regular ten-mile-runner, then you need a dog that’ll match your exercise commitments and abilities.

An athletic dog is ideal for outdoors-types and those who spend all of their spare time in nature.

A low-exercise dog is better for older people or the less mobile.

The size of a dog doesn’t always dictate their exercise needs, either: a Great Dane is huge but needs less walking than a much smaller Border Collie!


If you have children, or are planning to add to your family in the future, it’s important to consider whether a dog is right for you.

Children take up a lot of time and cause disruption to regular routines. They can also be rough with dogs, so it’s important to make sure that you have a breed that loves kids as much as you do.

Frequent Travel

If you’re always traveling for work, then a pet dog won’t fit well into your schedule. You can always put your dog in kennels or a home stay, but doing this regularly will cause them to be distressed and anxious, and could damage your all-important bond.

Are you a regular vacationer? You can still get a dog, if you are either willing to pay for the kennels whenever you go away, or want to take your pet with you whenever you travel. It will, however, limit where you can go and what you can do.


Many people in the rescue vs breeder debate think that adoption is the cheaper option.

However, all dogs come with an ongoing and hefty price tag.

You need to be able to afford regular vet bills, grooming, and of course food and toys. It’s important to also have a financial buffer set aside for unforeseen medical bills, especially if you have to pay an excess on your pet insurance.

Need for Cleanliness

Dogs are messy. Seriously, really messy. Taking them for a walk in the rain is one thing, but then you have muddy paws, fur everywhere when they shed, and toys strewn over the floor.

If you’re the type of person who has to have a neat and tidy (and not-dog-smelly) home at all times, then a dog may not be your ideal companion.

Rescue vs Breeder: Which Is Best for You?

When you know you’re ready for a pet dog, it’s time to take a look at your options.

Deciding whether to ‘shop or adopt’ takes a lot of consideration as both approaches have their pros and cons. Here are the key things to take into account when you’re choosing your route to having a new furry friend.

Do You Have a Specific Breed in Mind?

A breeder with expert knowledge and experience will be able to give you a purebred animal with the classic characteristics you’re after in the breed.

However, the demand for certain breeds has driven up the popularity of ‘designer dogs’: mixed breeds such as Labradoodles, or unfair breeding practices in popular animals like the pug.

These dogs are often bred on puppy farms. This is not ideal for the animals or for you: dogs bred in this way are prone to disease and ongoing health problems caused by the harsh breeding practices of puppy farmers.

Your local shelter may still have your ideal breed waiting to be re-homed, too. It’s a common misconception that shelters only have ‘mutts’ of mixed and unknown origin.

Mixed breed dogs are also worth considering as their varied genes will often mean they are healthier and have more quirky, individual personalities that could surprise you!

Do You Have Time for House Training?

A very young puppy from a breeder is a blank slate. You’ll bring them home around 8 weeks of age and will need to teach them everything from scratch. That includes house-breaking, crate training, and basic commands such as ‘sit’.

An older dog from a shelter will usually already have these commands and be house-broken, so you won’t need to spend time training them (or risking your carpets getting ruined).

You will often be able to find puppies at a shelter, too. These puppies will already have had input from the shelter staff to help them learn basic commands and be house-broken.

Will You Need Ongoing Support or Kennels?

A good breeder will offer home boarding when you’re away on vacation, and should also offer ongoing support to help you settle your new addition into the family. They will be able to give you breed-specific training tips and help you to understand your dog’s behavior on an expert level.

A shelter won’t be able to offer kennels while you go on vacation, but they will be able to provide you with some support. This is especially true if you have adopted a dog with particular needs, as many shelters will offer additional behavioral training courses for the dog and their new owner.

Are You Prepared for Unexpected Vet Bills?

A dog bought from a breeder will have all of the ideal characteristics and physical elements that make up the breed. However, both with reputable breeders and puppy mills, a breeding regime can result in additional health problems.

Dogs that are bred for particular traits won’t have a very mixed gene pool. This results in some common and serious health conditions, such as cancer in retriever breeds.

Adopt, Don’t Shop?

While you may have had your heart set on a new puppy of a certain breed, your local shelter could still help.

Now you’ve thought about both sides of the rescue vs breeder debate, it’s important that you follow the route that feels right for you and your lifestyle.

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