If everyone stopped breeding, there would be no purebred dogs left after one generation. I’ve read that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a secret agenda to end the keeping of all pets. If they can convince enough people to put a stop to all breeding, there will be no domestic dogs left at all. That would be a very sad thing for dogs and people.
Should You Boycott Breeders and Only Adopt Dogs?
Many people are encouraging others to adopt a dog and not buy from a breeder. This argument has two sides and both are right.
Why Buy a Dog?
This is a tough issue with pros and cons on both sides.
As we all should know by now, buying a dog from a pet shop only encourages the growth of puppy mills where often the parents of these dogs live in misery. It also encourages the growth of backyard breeders. These are the breeders who breed either purebred or even mixed breed dogs for the pet market for profit. There is no thought of the health and temperament of the dogs or of improving the breed.
Sources have shown that the largest segment contributing to the overpopulation of dogs is the owner who wants to breed their pet “just one time.” There are so many one-time breeders that they produce more dogs that all the big time kennels. Many times these are dogs who aren’t sold but given to friends and family members.
The problem with laws and regulations is that they may curtail this type of breeding, but they generally hurt the responsible breeders too.
Instinct vs Talent
Photo by Elf of a 16-week old puppy showing working ability.
So why should anyone want to buy a dog? If you needed a dog to hunt, herd or for any breed specific purpose, there would not be any left. That may not sound like a problem, but if you have a sheep ranch, you need a dog or two to help move the flock. Or if you want a livestock guard dog, you don’t want to find out the hard way that the dog won’t guard your goats.
Even some of the purebred dogs in shelters and rescues are so badly bred, that they have lost their talent for work. Notice I said talent and not instinct. These are two different qualities. My Shetland sheepdogs had instinct. When they saw sheep, they would rush around and bark and the run back to me. They showed instinct, but they were mostly pretty useless.They had been bred for the show ring and not for working.
When I decided to get a working herding dog, I went to a breeder of working Border collies. My Border collie pups showed not only instinct, but (to varying degrees) talent. They instinctively knew to keep behind the sheep and to move in the right direction to bring the sheep to me. They were almost useful from day one.These qualities are almost impossible to put into a dog if the dog is not born with it.
The Reputable Breeder
A good breeder not only screens the dogs he or she breeds for sound health and temperament, but breeds to produce the best qualities of that particular breed. If you want any sort of working dog, you would naturally look to the breed that is bred to do the job. If you want a sled dog, it is best to visit someone who has sled dogs.You should be able to visit a breeder of herding dogs and watch the parents or near relatives work sheep.
I know of some breeders will only breed a litter when they have a waiting list of prospective buyers for their pups. You can't get much more responsible than that.
A Greyhound is Not a Poodle
A major reason we even have purebreds is the predictability of the breed. When you breed two golden retrievers, you get more golden retrievers. If you love the temperament of the corgi, you would have to search through all the dogs in the shelter to find one that had that temperament you wanted. As much as the shelter workers try to screen dogs, they may not always be looking for what you want in a dog.
Some people just fall in love with a breed. They love everything about them - the way they act and the way they look. It would be sad to limit that love to one particular dog, never to find another one like it. Not that you ever replace an individual dog, but there are qualities and traits that make up the character of each breed.
The Mixed Breeds and Shelter Dogs
I do not mean to dismiss the mixed breed or shelter dog by any means. Some of my best dogs were mixed breeds and purebreds from shelters and rescues. My greyhounds were all rescue dogs. I even got two of them as puppies. (not recommended unless you are an experienced dog owner. Greyhound puppies can be unexpectedly high energy and destructive.)
A great many of our best companion dogs and working dogs come from shelters. Many service dogs, search and rescue and therapy dogs are deliberately picked from the shelters. And we can’t discount the majority of people who just want a companion and friend. There are many waiting for homes even now. Mixed breeds can participate in many sports such as flyball, agility and flying disc competitions.
Buying vs Adopting
So what should you do? If you do want a purebred, then look for the best breeder you can find. Don't buy a discount dog unless you know why it is for sale cheap. Spend some time looking at the parents if you can or look at the kennel they come from.
If you don't necessarily want a purebred, there is no reason to buy at all.There are many dogs and puppies waiting for homes. Puppies are wonderful, but there are many reasons to look at an older dog. Many are in a shelter for reasons that have nothing to do with the dog. Many times it is just a change in circumstances that has put them there.
You should spend some time visiting the dogs and talking to the caretakers. There often is a charge though. It should be a reasonable fee for vet services, shots, worming and, if the dog is old enough, for neutering. It should be much less than the going price for a purebred puppy.
What is the Right Decision?
Should you adopt or buy? The choice is yours. What is right for you might not be right for someone else. There is a reason that dogs have been bred for specific purposes over hundreds of years. We should not discount the people who breed carefully and thoughtfully.
Yet we need to be aware of the population problem and the lack of homes for so many dogs. Every prospective pet owner simply needs to look into their own heart and do what is right for them. Ultimately, what leads to a happy bond between dog and owner is the right choice.