Is It Better to Adopt or Buy a Dog? It Depends.

Deciding whether to adopt or buy a dog is not an easy decision, and there are reasons to support both options.

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To buy or not to buy? By: zibrantsen

To buy or not to buy…a puppy:
That is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler to rescue a pup
Or to purchase a breed with outrageous fortune.
To buy, perchance, or befriend a homeless pup: ay, there’s the rub!

—From Ham-dog by Dr. Shakes-deb

The choice to buy a purebred dog over adopting a dog that needs a home reaches tragic proportions for some people.

As eloquently stated in “Yes I Bought a Puppy — and No, I Don’t Feel Bad About It,” many purebred dog caretakers come under attack from the “rescue dog” camp for not having animal welfare concerns trump their own desire to purchase a particular breed.

The bleeding-heart rescue people contend that buying a dog is a spoiled act and adopting a dog is altruistic. These rescuers want to make a purebred pet parent feel crappy about buying a dog when so many dogs are looking for  homes.

Don’t Miss: Puppy Mill Red Flags — Don’t Be an Accidental Supporter

Red-dog or Blue-blood? Demo-dogs versus Repub-li-pups! Hey dog lovers, let’s try to get a better approval rating than our political parties and work together. We have a common bond: to find all pets the best loving homes possible.

It’s time to stop squabbling and take a dog walk across the aisle. Let’s do away with slanderous attacks of puppy racism and elitism and work for a common cause of responsible pet caretaking.

The Purebred Camp

My purebred pet parents are not all looking for a handbag puppy or a status symbol. But unfortunately, there are people who buy a purebred dog for empty-headed reasons. This does not help the Purebred Camp’s arguments.
How about if you heard some of these reasons for buying a puppy?

  • “I saw this dog in a movie and just had to have one.”
  • “It has to be small enough to smuggle on a plane.”
  • “I had one as a kid and need another one.”

Do you feel my blood pressure rising? These are not good reasons to buy a Brussels Griffon or a teacup schmeecup or a Cocker Spaniel!

Everyone should delve into the reasonable, responsible part of their brains when considering adding a pet to their home. Get rid of the notions of Hollywood fads, Paris Hiltonism, and re-creating your childhood, which probably was not all that great when you really think about it.

Valid Reasons to Buy a Puppy

1. Breed Attributes and Characteristics

Clearly, you have a fair to good chance of  your new dog exhibiting certain traits and strengths when you do your research and purchase a particular breed. But buyer beware, of course: No amount of research can guarantee that your lap dog will not turn out to be a landshark, or that your hunting dog would rather watch soap operas all day.

2. Emotional Attachment

If you’ve always had poodles, have your heart set on a beautiful poodle, and don’t mind spending half your life (or paycheck) on dog grooming, I don’t think I’ll be able to talk you into a shepherd cross. Some people grieve so deeply when they lose a certain dog it just makes sense that, when the are ready, they purchase the same breed that filled their heart with joy and love.

3. Improving the Breed

Many people are dedicated to breeding, raising or showing a particular breed and improving the health, temperament and welfare of that breed. This is why we should respect purebred dogs and honor and reward the people who do a great and dedicated job breeding and helping veterinarians with genetic research and testing.

Don’t Miss: The Importance of Getting to Know Your Dog’s Breeder

The world of purebred dogs is rich and fascinating. Here’s a word of advice to aspiring veterinarians out there: Know your breeds! It’s bad for your reputation to ask a new client if she got her goofy hound from the pound, only to be told it’s an Entlebucher sennenhund.

These Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retreievers, Ochre, Maple and Tegan, say, "We do exist!" By: Kristine Lacoste/Pets Adviser
These Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers, Ochre, Maple and Tegan, say, “We do exist!” By: Kristine Lacoste/Petful

Or when the client says her dog is a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, don’t say, “Oh, sure it is. And I have an Adirondack bear sniffing mastiff.” The Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever is a real breed, for the 2 or 3 of you out there who have never heard of it.

The Adopt-a-Dog Camp

1. Unnecessary Euthanasia

Shelters and rescue groups always have more pets than homes. Adopting a pet helps save a life. Of course it’s a wonderful thing to do!

Shelter workers and veterinarians experience depression and compassion burnout when faced with having to euthanize healthy pets just for the lack of available homes. This is why some adoption advocates can be aggressively nasty to purebred dog caretakers.

2. Fabulous Shelter Dogs Available

Walk into any shelter and try to turn your back on those soulful eyes staring at you through bars. Each face is saying, “Make this my last day in this cage.” Ears perk up because your voice is the best thing they’ve ever heard. A paw pokes through the bars and says, “Set me free to run in your backyard.” Are you actually saying you couldn’t love this mutt-face as much as a purebred mug?

3. Mutts Come in All Flavors

Homeless dogs and puppies come in all shapes and sizes. Even if you have a breed in mind, there are lots of wannabes out there.

I work with a lot of breed rescue groups, and they often include “almosts” in their foster homes. Looking for an Old English Sheepdog? How about this adorable muffin-head with a bunch of fur over her eyes and a fantastic sloppy disposition? Just try to say no to Goldiflocks, even if she doesn’t have papers!

When Wally, my aging rescue Cocker, crosses over to the Great Heavenly Dog Park, I don’t think I’ll be calling Cocker Spaniel breeders to “replace” him — as if he could ever be replaced. No, I’ll wait until the next needy dog comes into my sphere, or I’ll openly search for a dog that needs a home. Variety is the spice of a pet home, right?

I look at it this way: I may window-shop at Bloomingdale’s, but I comb the racks at T.J.Maxx to give past season’s merchandise a new home. That’s what I’ll do when I can open my heart and home to another set of paws.

In my mind, there is no off-price brand of dog in the world. They all deserve a wonderful home.

Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD

View posts by Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD
Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, is a small animal and exotics veterinarian who has split her time between a veterinary practice in Pelham, Massachusetts, and her studio in New York City. Dr. Lichtenberg is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine with 30 years of experience. Her special interests are soft tissue surgery and oncology.

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