Adopt or Shop? An Honest Answer


  • Saving Lives Through Adoption: Emphasize the significant impact of adopting from shelters, potentially saving dogs from euthanasia, with supporting statistics from 2019.
  • Ethical Breeding vs. Puppy Mills: Highlight the contrast between the problematic practices of puppy mills and the responsible, caring approach of ethical breeders.
  • Cost-Effectiveness of Adoption: Stress the economic advantage of adopting from shelters, including lower adoption fees and included veterinary care, compared to the higher cost of purchasing from breeders.
  • Health and Predictability: Mention the health benefits of mixed-breed dogs from shelters and the predictability in behavior and health when choosing a dog from an ethical breeder.

The Adopt vs. Shop Debate

The motto ‘adopt, don’t shop’ resonates deeply with many animal enthusiasts around the globe, advocating for the adoption of dogs from shelters instead of purchasing from breeders. As breeders ourselves, we resonate with this message, understanding its profound significance, even though we don’t view dog breeding as inherently wrong. Yet, we genuinely believe that opting to adopt from a local animal shelter might just be the most wonderful choice for both you and your family. It’s a decision that’s both needed and commendable. Let’s delve into a transparent comparison of the pros and cons: purchasing a dog from a breeder versus adopting from your local shelter.

Saving Lives through Adoption

When you adopt from a local shelter, you potentially save a dog from being euthanized. Back in 2019, around 3.1 million dogs were sheltered, with approximately 390,000, or 12.56%, facing euthanasia (Source: These statistics are mirrored in our own state of North Carolina. By choosing adoption, you contribute to decreasing the euthanasia rates, as increased adoption naturally leads to fewer dogs being put down.

The Problem with Puppy Mills

Purchasing from a puppy mill aggravates the issue of dogs ending up in shelters. Puppy mills often disregard the welfare of the dogs, neglecting essential health checks, adequate healthcare, and socialization for the puppies, and often fail to properly assess potential buyers. Consequently, many purebred dogs from these mills face significant health and behavioral issues, increasing their likelihood of being surrendered to shelters. Inadequate buyer screening can also result in mismatches between the breed or puppy and their new home.

The Role of Ethical Breeders

Conversely, buying from an ethical breeder can actually help reduce the shelter dog population. A large portion of shelter dogs originate from puppy mills or unplanned breeding. Ethical breeders, however, select parents for their health and temperament and thoroughly vet potential owners to ensure a harmonious match. As a result, dogs from ethical breeders are less likely to end up in shelters. Ethical breeders typically have clauses in their contracts to reclaim a dog at any point, preventing them from being surrendered to a shelter. Notably, only about 5% of shelter dogs are purebreds, according to the National Animal Interest Alliance.

Cost Considerations in Adoption vs. Purchase

Adopting from a local shelter is also more economical compared to purchasing a puppy. If budget is a concern, adopting offers a great opportunity to find a quality dog at a more affordable price. The average adoption fee ranges from $50-$350 (Source:, typically including spaying/neutering and vaccinations. In comparison, purchasing from an ethical breeder without training can cost between $1500-$3500, depending on the breed. Remember, the ongoing costs of dog ownership remain similar whether you adopt or buy from a breeder, averaging $500-$1500 annually.

Health Benefits of Mixed-Breed Dogs

Adopting usually means bringing home a healthy mixed-breed dog. Mixed-breeds often have fewer health issues than purebreds due to their greater genetic diversity, a concept known as “hybrid vigor.” With purebreds, there’s less uncertainty about appearance, size, personality, and potential health issues. However, purebreds can be more prone to certain health problems due to this limited genetic diversity.

Expectations and Surprises in Dog Adoption

Adopting a dog from a shelter prepares you for the unexpected. While purchasing a purebred dog comes with certain breed-specific expectations, there’s no guarantee your individual dog will conform to these. This can lead to disappointment if the dog’s behavior isn’t what you anticipated. With a shelter dog, particularly a mixed breed, you typically have fewer preconceived notions about their behavior, allowing for greater adaptability and readiness for various outcomes.

The Assurance of Ethical Breeding

Purchasing from an ethical breeder removes much of the uncertainty involved in getting a new puppy. Ethical breeders conduct health tests on the parents and can more accurately predict the puppy’s personality. You’re more likely to have a clear idea of the puppy’s future appearance, behavior, and potential health issues. Choosing an ethical breeder also reduces the likelihood of severe health problems. Plus, ethical breeders offer lifelong support and guidance for questions related to behavior, training, and health.