When Should You Adopt a Dog From a Shelter… and When it’s Best to Buy a Puppy From a Breeder



A shelter dog can be a perfect option for some prospective dog owners. And a shelter dog can also be a terrible match for others. How do we know when it’s best to adopt and when it’s best to buy?

This topic is important to talk about because it’s a moral dilemma we all face when choosing to bring a new fur friend home. When we are clear on the ethics of animal breeding and overpopulation- we can do what’s best for us and for the animals. If we aren’t clear on the ethics in regards to this matter- we might be contributing to the unnecessary suffering of dogs, including its overpopulation. So it’s important to read this piece so that you can make a confident and guilt-free decision.

First, we will need to determine the purpose of this new dog. Answer the following questions. What are your objectives with this new dog? What goals are you hoping to accomplish? What will be the duties assigned to this new dog (if any)?

When we start with these questions in mind, we are able to discern what’s the best choice for you that’s both ethical and logical. It would not be ethical in some situations to advocate for prospective dog owners to buy a puppy from a breeder- when it is evident that the breed wouldn’t be a good match to begin with and when the local animal shelter is crowded with hundreds of unwanted pets. And likewise- it wouldn’t be ethical to recommend a prospective dog owner to adopt a dog from a shelter when it’s evident that this would be a terrible choice (like when someone has specific needs to be met, concrete goals and/or specific qualities he/she expects from a dog).

The factors we take into consideration behind this is that shelter dogs may come with surprises that many inexperienced dog owners may not be prepared to deal with. An unknown history can subject you to bringing home a dog that may have been traumatized, abused and neglected. This is extra work that would need to be put into the dog. If you’re fully aware of this, have the experience and are willing to deal with the extra time it would take for healing- then adopting can be a good option. There are also many prospective dog owners that have no specific requirements, goals, or duties expected from their new dog. They simply just want a ‘pet’. And these people too would be good cases for adopting a “trauma-free” shelter dog.

As ethical and responsible animal lovers- this is an important topic for us to discuss. So we are weaving our position carefully into this article. We want to recommend what is right for both the animals and the owners. So now that we’re this far into the conversation let us state this- there’s no reason for you to feel guilty to buy a puppy from a breeder when your needs and goals warrant it. In animal activist circles- it is indiscriminately advocated (without individual case by case analysis) for everyone to adopt animals and to boycott buying puppies from breeders. In many cases this makes individuals seeking to buy a puppy (even tho well justified) to feel unnecessary guilt. We want to let you know that we are with you on this one. We understand the moral issue very well as we also advocate for holistic and cruelty-free animal wellness practices. So we will advocate shelter animals when it’s a good option but also support anyone in buying a puppy from a breeder when it’s properly justified. This is truth.

Many times it’s best to buy a purebred puppy from a breeder because we have specific goals to accomplish with our dogs. We want to assign specific duties for them to perform. We want to be able to expect certain predictable characteristics that a shelter dog simply can’t deliver. In these cases buying a purebred is justified.

As said before- if you have no specific demands from a dog and just want a purpose-less “pet”- then helping with the animal overpopulation and adopting a dog from an animal shelter is more likely the way to go!

Some tips for adopting an animal from a shelter

When you decide that adopting is the best choice for you- a good way to get to know prospective shelter animals available and determine whether one can be a good fit for you would be to visit your local shelter daily and volunteer when possible. When you volunteer to clean and feed the animals you will get an intimate look at their individual personality and traits. You will see which ones are more dominant and which ones are more submissive. You will see which ones show signs of viciousness and which ones are friendlier.


It seems like we touched all the main bases we wanted to bring up in this post for now. There are times when buying a puppy from a breeder is justified and you should proceed so guilty-free. There are also other times when adopting an animal from an animal shelter a better option and you should therefore proceed to do so.

If you have questions or comments regarding this topic, feel free to send us a voice message (via Speakpipe) below. Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply