Adopt or Shop? An Honest Answer

The phrase ‘adopt don’t shop’ is a very common phrase promoted by many wonderful animal lovers throughout the world. The idea is that due to the large number of dogs in shelters, people should focus on adopting those dogs instead of shopping around to breeders. We are breeders ourselves, so we understand and empathize with this sentiment, even though we do not believe that breeding dogs is wrong. However, we believe that adopting from a local animal shelter could be the best thing for you and your family. It is something that is needed and admirable. Let me give you a transparent Pros and Cons: buying a dog from a breeder versus adopting from a local shelter.

Adopting from a local shelter can help rescue a pup that may otherwise be euthanized if not adopted. In 2019, approximately 3.1 million dogs were placed in shelters, and out of that number, 390,000 dogs were euthanized, which accounts for 12.56% of the dogs in shelters. (Source: We found the same statistics in our state of North Carolina. By adopting from a local shelter, you can help reduce the number of dogs that are euthanized, as more adoptions can lead to fewer dogs being put down.

Shopping from a puppy mill will exacerbate the problem of dogs ending up in shelters. Puppy mills do not breed for the welfare of the dogs, fail to perform health-checks on the parents, provide inadequate health care and socialization to the puppies, and do not screen potential buyers to see if they are a good fit. As a result, many of these purebred dogs from puppy mills have serious health and behavior issues, which increases the chance of them being surrendered to a shelter. Moreover, if a buyer is not screened, it may lead to a poor match between the breed or puppy and the home.

Shopping from an ethical breeder can help reduce the number of dogs in shelters. Most shelter dogs come from puppy mills or accidental breedings. Ethical breeders carefully choose parents with good health and temperament, and screen potential buyers to ensure they are a good fit for the breed. As a result, dogs purchased from ethical breeders are less likely to be surrendered to a shelter. Additionally, ethical breeders often have contracts that require them to take back a dog at any time, rather than having the dog surrendered to a shelter. According to the National Animal Interest Alliance, only 5% of dogs in shelters are purebreds.

Adopting dogs from a shelter offers a cost-effective alternative to purchasing a puppy. If finances are a concern, adopting from a local shelter provides an opportunity to find a high-quality dog at a fraction of the cost. The average adoption fee for a pup from a shelter typically ranges from $50 to $350, as outlined by Chewy (, and often includes spaying/neutering and up-to-date vaccinations. In contrast, purchasing from an ethical breeder without training can cost between $1500 to $3500, depending on the breed. This presents a considerable saving.

It’s essential to note that the cost of dog ownership remains consistent whether you adopt from a shelter or buy from a breeder. On average, owning a dog can range from $500 to $1500 per year. Therefore, adopting from a shelter not only saves you money upfront but also offers a fulfilling opportunity to provide a loving home to a dog in need.

Adopting from a local shelter normally means buying a healthy mix-breed. Mix-breeds can be healthier than many purebreds and “hybrid vigor” means that you are spreading out the genetic diversity of the pup. Purebreds means that there is less guessing when it comes to the look, size, personality and health issues with the breed. Many purebreds though have more health issues than hybrids because of the lack of genetic diversity.

Adopting a dog from a local shelter allows you to be prepared for the unexpected. While buying a purebred dog can come with expectations based on typical personality traits and behaviors of the breed, there are no guarantees that your individual dog will fit those expectations. This can be disappointing if your dog does not behave as you anticipated. With a local shelter dog, you have fewer expectations regarding their behavior, especially if they are a mixed breed. This can allow you to be more flexible and better able to handle whatever comes your way..

Shopping from an ethical breeder takes a lot of guesswork out of buying a pup, which may be the greatest advantage. Ethical breeders health test the parents and can describe the puppy’s personality with much more accuracy. You will have a higher chance of knowing how the puppy will look and act, and what health challenges are associated with that breed. If you buy from an ethical breeder, there is a lower chance of major health issues affecting your puppy. Ethical breeders also provide lifetime support and will answer any questions you may have after taking your pup home. It’s important to have a professional advisor for your breed available to answer questions about behavior, training, and health.