Is it OK to get a dog from a breeder?

Is it OK to get a dog from a breeder?

Predictability is the biggest reason to buy a dog from a reputable responsible breeder. Knowing what to expect from that tiny little puppy as he grows into an adult dog is important in some scenarios.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for adopting a dog. But I also think there is a time and place for getting a dog from a breeder. I have adopted every single one of my dogs in my adult life… that is until now. This past weekend we brought home a bundle of joy that we purchased from a reputable breeder.

Yes, you read that right. We bought a puppy. Before you pass judgment and wonder “how could she!” Let me explain our story. 

border collie puppy from breeder
Meet our new border collie puppy, Thunder.

Why I chose to buy a puppy from a breeder

My 13-year-old daughter has wanted a dog of her own since she could talk. And 4 years ago we did adopt a dog for her (Ginger). 

Over these past several years we got involved in dog agility and my daughter has grown to love the sport. So much so, that we attend classes at least once a week, and we bought a house with 5 acres just so we could have an entire agility course in our backyard. 

Her dog, Ginger is good at agility, but she doesn’t love it. I’m certain she goes along with it just so she can get the treats, LOL. 

My daughter, on the other hand, loves agility and wants to train her dog for hours every day, and wants to do agility as a life-long sport. This isn’t a kid that decided they want to try a new instrument and change their mind a few weeks later. 

So we need a dog that is eager to learn and work…. and Ginger is not that dog. 

Adopting a purebred rescue dog

We started searching about 18 months ago for a border collie to adopt. Not that other breeds or mutts can’t be good agility dogs, but border collies are known to be great high-energy working dogs. And we weren’t just looking for another family pet, we already have two dogs.

After looking at breed-specific rescues that wouldn’t return my emails and searching Petfinder for several months, we found a border collie rescue named Rocky. Well, that experience was one we will never forget. You can read what happened in Our Heartbreaking, Gut Wrenching Adoption Story

adoption story of rocky the border collie
Pictured above: Rocky

Not unlike other rescue dogs, border collie rescues often come with their issues. Border collies are very sensitive dogs and if not properly breed or socialized, they can become problematic. 

After the incident with Rocky, we realized we needed a predictable dog for my daughter to train. And the only way we were going to find that predictability was to find a reputable border collie breeder with a proven track record of breeding agility dogs. 

For someone looking to adopt a family dog and really wants a pure breed dog, I think adoption is a great route. There are so many dogs that to no fault of their own, end up in shelters or rescue. They are perfect in every way, other than maybe they didn’t pick up on potty training quick enough or chewed their peoples shoes one too many times.

Finding the right breed specific rescue can take time and patience. They are usually overwhelmed with applicants and run by a handful of volunteers. They usually have tighter guidelines to whom they will adopt to, making it difficult to adopt from.

Even with our background of owning dogs for decades, I still could not get a response for the border collie rescues. I think it was because we didn’t have experience with the specific breed, or maybe it was because we don’t have a fence.

We did adopt our purebred yellow lab, Bear, from a family that didn’t realize how big he’d get and weren’t able to give him the exercise he needs. He just needed the right family and now he is a big goof ball and we love him to pieces.

Picking up puppy from breeder, meeting the dog mom and dad.
Picking up our puppy, Thunder… meeting his parents (mom pictured)

Finding a reputable breeder

I’m not talking about a backyard breeder or a puppy mill. A reputable breeder is one that cares about the dog’s health and temperament; she will spend countless hours socializing her puppies; and will ensure the puppies go to great homes.

Because this dog is not only going to be our family pet but a working dog with a specific job, it is imperative we find the right fit. 

So we switched gears and started our research on breeders. We talked to people at our local kennel club for recommendations and talked to more breeders than I can remember. It took us many months to find the right one.

There are bad breeders, people just looking to make money. Those are the ones you should despise, not the reputable breeders that want to raise happy, healthy, and balanced dogs. 

Getting a puppy from a breeder is all about predictability. Every dog is unique, but when you know who the parents are, how that puppy is raised from birth, you have a very good idea of what the temperament of that dog will be when he grows up. Although I admit, there are never any guarantees. 

Some questions to ask the breeder are:

  1. Can we meet the parents?
  2. How do you socialize your puppies?
  3. How long have you been breeding?
  4. Do you have references we can contact?
  5. What health tests been performed on the parents?
  6. How many litters has the mom had? Any health issues with past litters?
  7. Will the puppies be up-to-date on vaccinations before bringing him home?
  8. Do you provide a health guarantee and a contract?
  9. When will you be able to take the puppy home?
Picking up our puppy, Thunder... meeting his parents (dad pictured)
Picking up our puppy, Thunder… meeting his parents (dad pictured)

Adopting vs buying a pet

I will not be shamed for buying our puppy. I know deep in my heart we made the right choice. I still think adopting a rescue dog is the best choice for getting a family pet… most of the time. And we will adopt our next dog when it comes time. 

But when you need predictability, then buying a dog from a reputable breeder is the right choice. There is nothing wrong with wanting a purebred dog.

For us, it was because we wanted a dog for a specific job. For you, it may be something else. But don’t ever feel ashamed for choosing the right dog for you and your family. 

If your heart is set on a purebred dog, consider adopting from a breed-specific rescue if you can. In our situation, it didn’t work out for many reasons, but it was worth a try. 

Buying a dog from breeder vs. shelter will cost more money. Adopting averages from $50 to $400. Buying a dog from a good breeder can be anywhere from $800 to thousands of dollars! You will also most likely need to wait longer when buying a puppy from a breeder. Most of the breeders we interviewed had a waiting list. 

Learn more about how to adopt a dog.

Rescue dogs sometimes come with behavior problems that require a professional behaviorist trainer. They can be overly shy or may be reactive to other dogs. But buying a dog from a breeder can have the same issues. 

Why you shouldn’t buy a dog from a breeder

  • Don’t buy a dog from a breeder if you expect a guaranteed perfect dog. Because there are no perfect dogs. Purebred or mutt, every dog is unique and can have health and behavior issues. 
  • Don’t buy a dog from a breeder just because you want a “designer” dog. Today’s popular doodle breeds are a bad misrepresentation of a purebred dog. 
  • Don’t buy a dog from a breeder if you aren’t prepared to do your research and your chosen breeder is not proven to be reputable. 
  • Don’t ever buy a dog from a pet store that claims they got the puppy from a breeder. No reputable breeder would ever sell their puppies to a pet store. 

Advantages of buying from a breeder

  • Predictability. Plain and simple, getting a dog from a breeder allows you to know what you are getting. 
  • You will know how big that tiny puppy will become, you won’t be surprised when your puppy grows up to become an 80lb dog.
  • You should be able to meet the puppy’s parents, which is a good gauge on how their puppies temperament will be like.  
  • A reputable breeder will socialize the puppy from the day he is born, creating a confident, well-balanced dog.
  • Reduce health risks, as a good breeder should not be breeding a dog with any genetic health issues. 
  • A good breeder will become part of your family and be there for you when questions arise. 

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About the Author Debi@RescueDogs101

Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, two dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.

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